Earth’s core will begin to spin… upside down – What does this mean

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Earth’s core will begin to spin… upside down – What does this mean

The analysis concluded that after the 1970s, the inner core rotated increasingly faster in an eastward direction, until between 2009-2011 its rotation appears to have stopped

The rotation of Earth’s solid inner core is believed to have recently stopped, and the core appears to be preparing to reverse its motion in the opposite direction, according to Chinese scientists. Based on the indications so far, the reverse rotation will probably be completed within the next decade, while the possible effects on the planet’s surface are to be investigated.

The researchers, led by seismologist Xiaodong Song of Peking University, who made the relevant publication in the journal Geoscience “Nature Geoscience”base their estimates on the analysis of seismic waves from nearly identical earthquakes that penetrated the Earth’s core following similar “paths” from the 1960s to the present day.

The analysis concluded that after the 1970s, the inner core rotated increasingly faster in an eastward direction, until between 2009-2011 its rotation appears to have stopped, possibly due to the impending reversal of the rotation direction. The researchers estimate that the impending new shift in the core’s rotation in the opposite direction, this time to the west, is part of a possible periodic cycle of six to seven decades (a theory that needs confirmation). Based on this model, core it is expected to spin westward increasingly rapidly until the 2040s, when it will stop and reverse its eastward motion again.

The inner core – where it has an estimated radius of 1,220 km and composed mostly of iron and nickel, with temperatures similar to the Sun – it is separated from the rest of the solid Earth by the liquid outer core, which allows it to rotate differently from the planet itself. The rotation of the inner core is affected by the magnetic field created by the outer molten core and is balanced by the gravitational effects of the mantle, the intermediate layer of the Earth between the core and the crust. The rotation speed of the core and to what extent it changes, remains a matter of scientific debate.

Also under discussion is how the direction of rotation of the inner core relates to geophysical changes on the surface of our planet, such as the magnetic field and length of day, as there is thought to be an interaction.

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