London, Thanasis Gavos

Melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica due to human-induced climate change has slightly slowed the Earth’s rotation speed, is the conclusion of a study by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California published in the British scientific journal Nature.

The consequence of this change is that it extends by almost three years the need that has been pointed out by scientists for the omission of a second in the measurement of time.

This need has arisen from the increased speed of rotation of the Earth in recent decades, which is due to changes in the core of the planet. Under normal circumstances, to keep the timekeeping in sync with the Earth’s rotation, a second would have to be skipped in 2026.

The melting of the ice caps, however, and the consequent reduction in the planet’s rotation speed means that the subtraction of the second from the measurement of time will have to take place in 2029.

Study author Duncan Agnew explained that the reduction in the amount of ice at the two poles means there is now more mass around the equator. It is this change in mass concentration that is responsible for slowing down the rotation.

Mr. Agniou commented that it is impressive that the human factor has now reached the point of affecting the rotation of the planet. “Things are happening that are unprecedented,” he said.