Scientists around the world have noticed that lately the Earth has been spinning faster than usual and this is why in 2020 some days were shorter than normal.
For most of human history, the time has been marked by a 24-hour day/night cycle, with some disturbances caused, for example, by the changing of the seasons.
The cycle depends on the speed with which the planet rotates on its own axis. Because of that, the duration of a day has been standardized and amounts to approximately 86,400 seconds. The day/night cycle is fairly stable, even though it actually varies slightly on a regular basis.
Several decades ago, the development of atomic clocks allowed specialists to record the passage of time in incredibly small increments, which, in turn, made it possible to measure the length of a given day down to milliseconds. That has led to the discovery that the planet’s spin is actually much more variable than previously thought.
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Since these measurements began, scientists also discovered that the Earth was gradually slowing its spin. But in 2020 everything changed and it started spinning faster.
The researchers noted that July 19, 2020, was the shortest day in history – it was 1.4602 milliseconds shorter than standard.
Scientists are not concerned about this new finding, as they have learned that there are many factors that influence planetary spin, including the Moon’s orbit, snow levels, and mountain erosion.
Experts have even begun to wonder if global warming could push the Earth to spin faster as layers of snow and high-altitude glaciers begin to disappear.