Earth broke the record for the shortest day on June 29 this year. According to the website TimeAndDate, the planet completed a complete rotation around its axis in 1.59 milliseconds less than the traditional 24 hours. According to a report by The Independent, the milestone was nearly passed again on July 26, when scientists recorded a spin minus 1.50 milliseconds.
Previously, the Earth’s rotation record was 1.46 milliseconds less than the traditional 24 hours. This data was recorded on July 19, 2020. Since scientists began timing Earth’s spins in 1960, the planet has surpassed its shortest day mark 28 times.
In theory, the Earth takes exactly 86,400 seconds to complete one revolution. But, full rotations take less and less time as the years go by. Scientists have not yet discovered the real reasons that cause changes in Earth’s gyres, but there are some suspicions of processes that may impact the way we perceive time.
Global warming can affect Earth’s rotation
The report in The Independent newspaper cites global warming and melting glaciers to explain the change in the speed of Earth’s rotation. These factors cause changes in the Earth’s core, tremors and a phenomenon called the Chandler Oscillation.
The phenomenon is a small divergence in the Earth’s axis of rotation. It’s as if the planet is a big spinning pawn, and the wobble causes the object to gain momentum from an impact in the right place at a specific time.
Some scientists still believe that the Moon may be to blame for changes in the Earth’s rotation. The satellite causes gravitational changes, affecting the tides of the oceans. With the force of the waters, the planet can gain or lose speed over the course of 24 hours.
How the Earth’s rotation affects everyday life
Although it seems tiny, the 1.59 milliseconds less in the Earth’s rotation time can cause serious problems on GPS satellites equipped with atomic clocks, for example. The fact can also harm cell phones, computers and communication systems connected to the Network Time Protocol (NTP).
To prevent serious failures from occurring, the International Telecommunication Union is considering advancing or pausing the atomic clocks used to calculate Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) by one second. These clocks are quite accurate and unvarying, as they measure time through the movement of electrons in frozen atoms.
However, forcing any change to atomic clocks can have serious consequences on communication systems, hardware and software components that rely on UTC accuracy. Therefore, it is necessary to have planning to face possible crises.