Climate change is altering Earth’s rotation enough to mess with our clocks

The leap second is being affected by climate change, scientists warn  The Washington Post

Climate change is altering Earth’s rotation enough to mess with our clocks

Climate change is altering Earth’s rotation enough to mess with our clocks

Climate Change Affects Earth’s Rotation and Timekeeping

The Impact of Climate Change on Earth’s Rotation

According to a paper published in the journal Nature, the melting of polar ice due to global warming is affecting Earth’s rotation and could have implications for precision timekeeping.

The Significance of Timekeeping

Timekeeping is crucial in a highly technological society. Global authorities invented the concept of the “leap second” over half a century ago to account for slight changes in Earth’s rotation.

The Complications Caused by Climate Change

Climate change is making timekeeping calculations even more complex. It may be necessary to insert a “negative leap second” into the calendar in the future to synchronize Earth’s rotation with Coordinated Universal Time.

The Core Problem in Timekeeping

Traditionally, timekeeping has been based on astronomical observations. However, modern technology demands precise measurements. Atomic clocks define a second as 9,192,631,770 oscillations of a Cesium atom. The goal is to ensure that atomic time aligns perfectly with astronomical time.

The Influence of Earth’s Core and Shape

Earth’s fluctuating spin rate is influenced by various factors, including the moon, the sun, oceanic tides, Earth’s atmosphere, and the planet’s solid inner core. Changes in the planet’s shape caused by melting ice caps and rising land at the poles have opposite effects on Earth’s rotation.

The Future of Timekeeping

While the core is causing the planet to spin faster, the shape changes resulting from climate change are slowing down this process. It is predicted that a “negative leap second” may need to be added to the calendar in the future to account for these changes.

SDGs, Targets, and Indicators

SDGs Targets Indicators
SDG 13: Climate Action Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.2: Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies, and planning Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising, and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.a: Implement the commitment undertaken by developed-country parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to a goal of mobilizing jointly $100 billion annually by 2020 from all sources to address the needs of developing countries in the context of meaningful mitigation actions and transparency on implementation and fully operationalize the Green Climate Fund through its capitalization as soon as possible Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 13.b: Promote mechanisms for raising capacity for effective climate change-related planning and management in least developed countries and small island developing States, including focusing on women, youth, and local and marginalized communities Indicator not mentioned in the article
SDG 9: Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure Target 9.5: Enhance scientific research, upgrade the technological capabilities of industrial sectors in all countries, in particular developing countries, including, by 2030, encouraging innovation and substantially increasing the number of research and development workers per 1 million people and public and private research and development spending Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 9.a: Facilitate sustainable and resilient infrastructure development in developing countries through enhanced financial, technological, and technical support to African countries, least developed countries, landlocked developing countries, and small island developing States Indicator not mentioned in the article
Target 9.b: Support domestic technology development, research and innovation in developing countries, including by ensuring a conducive policy environment for, inter alia, industrial diversification and value addition to commodities Indicator not mentioned in the article

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