The planet's axis has moved eastward toward England and climate change may have contributed to this shift. Scientists, however, are keen in determining the causes that affect the shifting of the planet's axis.
In a new study by NASA, scientists have included Antarctica's melting ice sheets as a contributory factor in the Earth's rotation shift. This adds up to the previous work that considers the impact of Greenland's melting ice sheet.
The scientists looked into decades-worth of data to see whether the dramatic changes like melting ice sheet and changes in the planet's hydrology are caused by natural phenomena or are human-induced.
Climate Change Affects Global Temperatures
Scientists who study the planet's well-being see indisputable evidence that the Earth is getting warmer. Many believe that human activity like burning fossil fuels and the resulting buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are to blame for drastic changes on the planet.
Aside from the increasing temperatures of the planet's oceans, they have noticed the retreat and changes in the distribution of ice across the globe.
For instance, scientists observed the rapidly increasing water levels from Greenland's melted ice sheets. However, the new study pointed out that the melting of ice sheets in Antarctica has contributed to increasing water levels too.
Continental Water Is Also Affected
Continental water plays an important role in the dynamics of the Earth system. Availability of water on land regulates the presence of water and energy into the atmosphere which results in changes in the planet's climate.
Global warming that has caused the melting of ice glaciers has increased the water levels across the globe.
The distribution of continental water is vital to the stability of global hydrology, ecology and climate dynamics. Water circulates on the globe in a predictable pattern; changes in the oceans conveyer belt could affect not only the climate, but also the planet's axis.
Shifting Of The Planet's Axis
In the new study by NASA scientists, the planet's axis has shifted sharply to the east and is now drifting almost twice as fast as before, with a rate of about 7 inches (17 centimeters).
The scientists suggested that Greenland and Antarctica's mass of ice sheet have been rapidly melting that has caused the eastward shift of the spin axis. One contributory factor of this change is the movement of water through daily processes.
The calculations showed that the movement of North Pole has not only been caused by changes in Greenland alone, but also, Antarctica's loss of ice mass. These changes in ice sheets have caused a gigantic amount of energy needed to pull the planet's axis as far it has shifted.
For years, the North Pole shifted back and forth from east to west. Its trend, however, had it moving toward Canada. Starting 2000, the trend had a major shift as it moves steadily eastward toward the Prime Meridian that passes across England.
Photo: Claire Rowland | Flickr