Even the Earth wanted 2020 to end quickly: last year, our planet spun faster than normal, scientists say.
As noted in LiveScience, the 28 fastest recorded days on Earth (since 1960) occurred in 2020, with the Earth completing its rotation around its axis milliseconds faster than average.
The Earth is usually an excellent stopwatch, according to TimeandDate.com. On average, the sun rotates once every 86,400 seconds, which is equivalent to 24 hours. This is known as the average sunny day.
“But it’s not perfect,” Graham Jones and Constantine Bikos wrote on TimeandDate.com. “When extremely accurate atomic clocks were developed in the 1960s, they showed that the length of the average solar day can vary in milliseconds (1 millisecond equals 0.001 seconds).”
The Earth’s rotation can change slightly due to the movement of its core, and also, surprisingly, due to weather and ocean patterns.
“Atmospheric changes, especially atmospheric pressure around the world, and wind movements that may be associated with climate signals such as El Niño are strong enough that their effect is seen in the Earth’s rotation signal,” David said. A. Salstein, an atmospheric scientist from Atmospheric and Environmental Research, said in 2003.
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El Niño is a periodic natural warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean, while La Niña, which is observed towards the end of 2020, is a natural cooling of the same part of the Pacific Ocean. According to the NOAA, while El Niño leads to a reduction in the speed of rotation of the earth, La Niña tends to have the opposite effect.
The recent acceleration of the Earth’s rotation has led scientists to talk for the first time about a negative second jump, LiveScience said. Instead of adding a leap second, which has been done several times before, to compensate for the slowing of the Earth’s rotation, you may need to subtract one.
“It is possible that a negative leap second would be needed if the Earth’s speed increased further, but it is too early to say whether this is likely to happen,” physicist Peter Weberley of the National Physics Laboratory told The Telegraph. Great Britain.
“There are also international discussions about the future of leap seconds, and it is also possible that the need for a negative leap second will push the decision to end the leap seconds forever,” he said.
Due to the volatile speed of the Earth, scientists in the 1950s created an atomic clock to keep accurate records of time. However, as the Earth’s rotation could vary, the atomic clock continued steadily forward and the two time indicators diverged.
To correct this discrepancy, scientists have created UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) to help bridge the gap between Earth time and the atomic clock. However, the atomic clock continued to race forward, so at least once every 10 years, scientists added an extra jump second to UTC to keep them closer together. This is especially important for things like GPS navigation.
“In everyday life, this extra second is practically irrelevant,” said Wolfgang Dick, a spokesman for the International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems, the organization that maintains global time, for the United States TODAY in 2016. “However, in every area where it just takes time (astronomy, navigation, spaceflight, but also computer networks for stock markets or energy supplies, and more) this second is of great importance, “Dick said.
The last second jump was added in 2016.
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