Is Earth's axis changing?
Climate change has shifted Earth's axis: study. Shifting water weight is changing the way Earth's poles move around, a new study indicates. While Earth's axis periodically shifts by itself, the effect is being exacerbated by human activity's effect on climate, researchers found. New York Daily NewsClimate change shifting Earth's axis: study
In a new study, researchers examined the phenomenon of polar wandering, in which Earth's magnetic north and south poles drift around the surface of the planet, restlessly roaming from the anchored positions of their geographic counterparts.
This mysterious phenomenon is thought to be driven by many factors, including the existence of vast anomalies of molten iron under Earth's surface. But other elements also contribute, scientists say – including, amazingly enough, the effects of anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change.
"Faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s," explains lead researcher Shanshan Deng from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research in China.
In the new study, Deng and fellow researchers examined the extent to which changes in terrestrial water storage (TWS) in recent decades contributed to the amount of magnetic polar wander recorded in the same timeframe.
Basically, TWS includes changes in water levels on Earth resulting from glaciers melting as the world gets warmer, in addition to changes also produced by the pumping of groundwater from underground reservoirs.
The reason these changes are important is because they affect the distribution of mass on Earth, and when you're dealing with a spinning object – whether a spinning top, a yo-yo, or an entire planet revolving in space – the way its mass is distributed in turn affects the way it spins.
"It brings an interesting piece of evidence to this question," explains climate scientist Vincent Humphrey from the University of Zurich in Switzerland, who wasn't involved with the study.
"It tells you how strong this mass change is – it's so big that it can change the axis of the Earth."
While polar drift is a natural phenomenon that has been observed by scientists for over a century, the wandering has rapidly picked up speed in more recent times, along with a directional change from westwards to eastwards in the magnetic north pole first seen in the 1990s.
Over time, the drifting adds up, with the poles traveling hundreds of kilometers, meaning adjustments have to be made to the World Magnetic Model, which underpins navigation systems such as GPS.
According to the team's calculations – based on satellite data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) mission and estimates of glacier loss and groundwater pumping going back to the 1980s – the primary driver of polar drift change seen in the 1990s was ice melt due to climate change.
"The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s," the researchers explain in their study.
"The other possible causes are TWS change in non‐glacial regions due to climate change and unsustainable consumption of groundwater for irrigation and other anthropogenic activities."
While the degree of axis shift experienced so far is estimated to be so slight that humans wouldn't be able to perceive it in daily life, the results nonetheless suggest another alarming side effect of humanity's unsustainable usage of Earth's resources: planetary-scale mass rearrangements significant enough to measurably affect the revolutions of the world we live upon.
Another question is how much ongoing, locked-in ice melting – and continued plundering of groundwater resources – might impact future axis shifting, and what ramifications could result from that. We'll have to wait and see.
The findings are reported in Geophysical Research Letters.
Read full article at ScienceAlert
26 April, 2021 - 01:00am
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The paper highlights how the loss of hundreds of billions of tonnes of ice has led to changes in the distribution of the Earth’s mass, which has caused the poles to move in new directions.
The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.
Earlier this week, US President Joe Biden warned world leaders this is the “decisive decade” to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
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25 April, 2021 - 11:29am
Earth's geographic north and south poles—where the planet's axis of rotation intersects with its surface—are not fixed. Changes in where the Earth's mass is distributed can cause the axis, and the poles, to move.
Melting glaciers caused a significant amount of water to shift, which scientists have now said helped the locations of the poles accelerate eastward.
It is estimated that since 1980, the poles' positions have moved about 4 meters (13 feet).
Melting glaciers accounted for most of the shift observed since the 1990s, the peer-reviewed study published in Geophysical Research Letters (the American Geophysical Union's journal) said.
Pumping groundwater from beneath land had a lesser impact, it added. Natural factors, such as ocean currents, also contributed to the drifting pole positions, the study said.
Researchers analysed data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, which have tracked polar drift since 2002, with their own modeling before publishing the results.
The team was led by Shanshan Deng, from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, with the project funded by the Chinese government.
Experts said they found the direction of the poles moved from southward to eastward in the mid-1990s and that the speed of the drift between 1995 to 2020 was upwards of 17 times faster than it was in the years between 1981 and 1995.
"The accelerated terrestrial water storage decline resulting from glacial ice melting is thus the main driver of the rapid polar drift toward the east after the 1990s," the study read.
"This new finding indicates that a close relationship existed between polar motion and climate change in the past."
The team said climate change was not the only factor in why the direction of the poles had shifted, but that it had contributed significantly over the observed period.
Vincent Humphrey, from the University of Zurich and not involved in the new study, said it showed how human activities have redistributed huge amounts of water.
"It tells you how strong this mass change is – it's so big that it can change the axis of the Earth," told The Guardian.
He added that the shifting of the Earth's axis could change the length of a day by milliseconds, but was not large enough to affect daily life.
Tackling climate change once again has become a leading agenda for the White House since President Joe Biden took office in January.
Earlier this week Biden spoke about how he intended to tackle climate change with serious resolve. He said the U.S. "has resolved to take action" on the issue.
He added: "The signs are unmistakable, the science is undeniable and the cost of inaction keeps mounting."
During his Earth Day proclamation, Biden said recent crises, namely the Texas snowstorms and storms in the Gulf of Mexico, had shown the threat posed by climate change.
He said: "That is why my administration is advancing the most ambitious climate agenda in our nation's history.
"Our clean energy plan will create millions of good-paying union jobs, ensure our economic competitiveness, and improve the health and security of communities across America.
"By making those investments and putting millions of Americans to work, the United States will be able to cut our greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030."
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24 April, 2021 - 02:12pm
Glacial melting due to global warming is likely the cause of a shift in the movement of the poles that occurred in the 1990s.
The locations of the North and South poles aren’t static, unchanging spots on our planet. The axis Earth spins around—or more specifically the surface that invisible line emerges from—is always moving due to processes scientists don’t completely understand. The way water is distributed on Earth’s surface is one factor that drives the drift.
Melting glaciers redistributed enough water to cause the direction of polar wander to turn and accelerate eastward during the mid-1990s, according to a new study in Geophysical Research Letters, AGU’s journal for high-impact, short-format reports with immediate implications spanning all Earth and space sciences.
“The faster ice melting under global warming was the most likely cause of the directional change of the polar drift in the 1990s,” said Shanshan Deng, a researcher at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and an author of the new study.
The Earth spins around an axis kind of like a top, explains Vincent Humphrey, a climate scientist at the University of Zurich who was not involved in this research. If the weight of a top is moved around, the spinning top would start to lean and wobble as its rotational axis changes. The same thing happens to the Earth as weight is shifted from one area to the other.
Melting of glaciers in Alaska, Greenland, the Southern Andes, Antarctica, the Caucasus and the Middle East accelerated in the mid-90s, becoming the main driver pushing Earth’s poles into a sudden and rapid drift toward 26°E at a rate of 3.28 millimeters (0.129 inches) per year. Color intensity on the map shows where changes in water stored on land (mostly as ice) had the strongest effect on the movement of the poles from April 2004 to June 2020. Inset graphs plot the change in glacier mass (black) and the calculated change in water on land (blue) in the regions of largest influence. Credit: Deng et al (2021) Geophysical Research Letters/AGU
Researchers have been able to determine the causes of polar drifts starting from 2002 based on data from the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), a joint mission by NASA and the German Aerospace Center, launched with twin satellites that year and a follow up mission in 2018. The mission gathered information on how mass is distributed around the planet by measuring uneven changes in gravity at different points.
Previous studies released on the GRACE mission data revealed some of the reasons for later changes in direction. For example, research has determined more recent movements of the North Pole away from Canada and toward Russia to be caused by factors like molten iron in the Earth’s outer core. Other shifts were caused in part by what’s called the terrestrial water storage change, the process by which all the water on land—including frozen water in glaciers and groundwater stored under our continents—is being lost through melting and groundwater pumping.
The authors of the new study believed that this water loss on land contributed to the shifts in the polar drift in the past two decades by changing the way mass is distributed around the world. In particular, they wanted to see if it could also explain changes that occurred in the mid-1990s.
In 1995, the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward. The average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 also increased about 17 times from the average speed recorded from 1981 to 1995.
Shifts in the geographic location of Earth’s North and South poles is called polar drift, or true polar wander. Credit: NASA/ JPL-Caltech
Now researchers have found a way to wind modern pole tracking analysis backward in time to learn why this drift occurred. The new research calculates the total land water loss in the 1990s before the GRACE mission started.
“The findings offer a clue for studying past climate-driven polar motion,” said Suxia Liu, a hydrologist at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the corresponding author of the new study. “The goal of this project, funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China is to explore the relationship between the water and polar motion.”
Using data on glacier loss and estimations of ground water pumping, Liu and her colleagues calculated how the water stored on land changed. They found that the contributions of water loss from the polar regions is the main driver of polar drift, with contributions from water loss in nonpolar regions. Together, all this water loss explained the eastward change in polar drift.
“I think it brings an interesting piece of evidence to this question,” said Humphrey. “It tells you how strong this mass change is—it’s so big that it can change the axis of the Earth.”
Humphrey said the change to the Earth’s axis isn’t large enough that it would affect daily life. It could change the length of day we experience, but only by milliseconds.
The faster ice melting couldn’t entirely explain the shift, Deng said. While they didn’t analyze this specifically, she speculated that the slight gap might be due to activities involving land water storage in non-polar regions, such as unsustainable groundwater pumping for agriculture.
Humphrey said this evidence reveals how much direct human activity can have an impact on changes to the mass of water on land. Their analysis revealed large changes in water mass in areas like California, northern Texas, the region around Beijing and northern India, for example—all areas that have been pumping large amounts of groundwater for agricultural use.
“The ground water contribution is also an important one,” Humphrey said. “Here you have a local water management problem that is picked up by this type of analysis.”
I never heard one thing mentioned about all the oil that’s been pulled from the earth (mother earth’s blood)she dieing you people have about drained her of her blood (oil)the core of the earth is to hot the there’s not enough oil in the earth to keep it cooled down so it just keep getting hotter causing more heat to push out from the core heating our waters melting polar caps etc… Now this is what it’s all come to and it will get worse and it will kill us all we must reverse this and start by pumping the oil back into the earth cool her down then start dealing with the damaged earth maybe the oil being put back in the earth might slow things down I don’t know but what I do know is be need to start somewhere and try to say this planet all our countries must work together to save this planet in order for us all to survive we must all unite and become one it’s the only way start putting some of that oil back in the earth that might be a big start you may think not but how do we really know unless we try it this earth needs to cool down and slow down it may give us more time to work on earth other issues I truly believe all the oil that has been pulled out of this earth over heating earth core throwing everything off balance mother earth is dieing that why all this is happening she does we die as well I doubt that NASA finds us a planet in time to save all of us I pray the Lord be with us all Amen.
Please go back on your meds before you hurt yourself!
The movement of our axis of rotation is a combination of normal top-like precession, and the changes in the distribution of mass from melting ice and isostatic rebound. However, the recent changes are small compared to the historical past! See the following graph: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Post-Glacial_Sea_Level.png
The last glaciation started to wane almost 21 thousand years ago. The initial melt-water pulse from about 15,000 to 7,000 years ago was significantly greater and would have had a much greater change on the distribution of mass than what Earth has experienced in the last 7,000 years, let alone the last couple of decades. To put everything in perspective, nothing unusual with respect to melting has happened recently that can be uniquely attributed to industrialization, as evidenced by the change in sea level.
The NASA/JPL/Caltech illustration in the article is deceptive; it suggests that the north pole was located in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains in 1995.
The reference and link to the impact of molten iron in the outer core refers to the wandering of the MAGNETIC pole, which is unrelated to the drift of the GEOGRAPHIC poles! While driven by the Earth’s rotation, they are different effects. This is a mix of limes and oranges.
After reading the actual research article, I note that there is no mention of the outer core or magnetic pole movement.
Another noteworthy point is that in section 5 they remark, “Accelerated ice melting in glacial areas cannot explain the entire polar drift in the 1990s, especially for peak‐to‐peak amplitudes.” They follow that up with, “Thus, polar motion is more sensitive to TWS changes in mid‐latitude areas than in other areas.” Thus, this article is more about aquifer draw-down in agriculture, and perhaps the NASA documented greening of Earth from increased CO2, than it is about climate change or glacier melting.
In the animation, Earth is rotating in the wrong sense, and the continents appear as their mirror image. That is a rude error.
You all buy this crap. OMG
*slow clap* because if I move to fast you might miss what’s happening. There’s that number 17 again and are we really trusting China still? I hate to quote the guy in the mask that keeps hiding from the reporters but “C’MON MAN”, ain’t nobody buying what you’re selling
This is y ppl r so dum..It may be the fact that the earth’s axis is tilting (actually the angle to which we are positioned to the sun from our viewpoint, which I’ve always said was caused by our orbit hulu hooping around the sun , because the sun travels around the milky way like mimicking a radio wave) and wen ur close to the fire it is warmer…oh BTW it also explains the dry bands over Sahara and polar shift…wen we above sun equator n magnetic pole one charge , ‘s equator n pole the other charge..uw hnd
Good god these comments are just something else
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Loss of water on land through ice melting and human-caused factors is changing the movement of the North and South poles. Glacial melting due to…
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24 April, 2021 - 05:00am
The massive melting of glaciers as a result of global heating has caused marked shifts in the Earth’s axis of rotation since the 1990s, research has shown. It demonstrates the profound impact humans are having on the planet, scientists said.
The planet’s geographic north and south poles are the point where its axis of rotation intersects the surface, but they are not fixed. Changes in how the Earth’s mass is distributed around the planet cause the axis, and therefore the poles, to move.
In the past, only natural factors such as ocean currents and the convection of hot rock in the deep Earth contributed to the drifting position of the poles. But the new research shows that since the 1990s, the loss of hundreds of billions of tons of ice a year into the oceans resulting from the climate crisis has caused the poles to move in new directions.
The scientists found the direction of polar drift shifted from southward to eastward in 1995 and that the average speed of drift from 1995 to 2020 was 17 times faster than from 1981 to 1995.
Since 1980, the position of the poles has moved about 4 meters in distance. “The accelerated decline [in water stored on land] resulting from glacial ice melting is the main driver of the rapid polar drift after the 1990s,” concluded the team, led by Shanshan Deng, from the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Gravity data from the Grace satellite, launched in 2002, had been used to link glacial melting to movements of the pole in 2005 and 2012, both following increases in ice losses. But Deng’s research breaks new ground by extending the link to before the satellite’s launch, showing human activities have been shifting the poles since the 1990s, almost three decades ago.
The research, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, showed glacial losses accounted for most of the shift, but it is likely that the pumping up of groundwater also contributed to the movements. Groundwater is stored under land but, once pumped up for drinking or agriculture, most eventually flows to sea, redistributing its weight around the world. In the past 50 years, humanity has removed 18 trillion tons of water from deep underground reservoirs without it being replaced.
Vincent Humphrey, at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and not involved in the new research said it showed how human activities have redistributed huge amounts of water around the planet: “It tells you how strong this mass change is—it’s so big that it can change the axis of the Earth.” However, the movement of the Earth’s axis is not large enough to affect daily life, he said: It could change the length of a day, but only by milliseconds.
Jonathan Overpeck, a professor at the University of Arizona, told the Guardian previously that changes to the Earth’s axis highlighted “how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet”.
Some scientists argue that the scale of this impact means a new geological epoch – the Anthropocene—needs to be declared. Since the mid-20th century, there has been a marked acceleration of carbon dioxide emissions and sea level rise, the destruction of wildlife and the transformation of land by farming, deforestation, and development.
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