Scientists have been baffled after discovering the Earth is spinning faster than normal, making the days shorter than usual.
New measurements from the UK’s National Physical Laboratory show that the Earth is spinning faster than it was half a century ago.
On June 29, the Earth’s full rotation took 1.59 milliseconds in less than 24 hours, the shortest day on record.
Scientists have warned that if the rate of rotation continues to accelerate, we may have to cut a second from our atomic clocks.
“If Earth’s rapid rotation continues, it could lead to the introduction of the first-ever negative leap second,” astrophysicist Graham Jones reported via Timeanddate.com.
“This would be necessary to keep civil time – which is based on the super regular rhythm of atomic clocks – in sync with solar time, which is based on the movement of the sun across the sky.
“A negative leap second would mean that our clocks jump a second, which could potentially create problems for computer systems.”
Researchers from Meta said a leap second would have colossal effects on technology and become a “major source of pain” for hardware infrastructure.
“The impact of a negative leap second has never been tested on a large scale; this could have a devastating effect on software relying on timers or schedulers,” claimed a blog post on the subject, written by researchers Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagowi.
“In any case, every leap second is a major source of pain for the people managing the hardware infrastructure.”
Scientists Leonid Zotov, Christian Bizouard and Nikolay Sidorenkov claim that the irregular rotations are the result of something called Chandler Wobble, an irregular movement of the Earth’s geographic poles on the globe’s surface.
“The normal amplitude of the Chandler Oscillation is around 3-4m at the Earth’s surface,” Zotov told TimeandDate, “but from 2017 to 2020 it disappeared.”
Some experts believe melting and refreezing ice caps on the world’s tallest mountains could be contributing to the erratic speed.
“Earth has recorded its shortest day since scientists began using atomic clocks to measure its rotational speed,” TimeandDate reported.
“On June 29, 2022, the Earth completed one revolution in 1.59 milliseconds in less than 24 hours. This is the latest in a series of speed records for Earth since 2020.”
Zotov told TimeandDate that there’s a “70% chance” the planet has already reached the minimum length of a day, which means we’ll probably never have to use a negative leap second.
However, Zoltov admitted there was no way to know for sure with current technology.