Earth is spinning faster than usual and had its shortest day ever

Earth is spinning faster than usual and had its shortest day ever

Published August 4, 2022
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The normal length of day is 24 hours, or 86,400 seconds. But in recent years, the Earth’s rotation has accelerated, shortening some days by milliseconds. “Since 2016 the Earth started to accelerate,” said Zotov, who works at works for Lomonosov Moscow State University and recently published a study on what might cause the changes in Earth’s rotation. “This year it rotates quicker than in 2021 and 2020.”

He says not every day is shorter, but if the trend continues, atomic time – the universal way time is measured on Earth – may have to change. Some scientists propose introducing a negative leap second. “Since we can not change the clock arrows attached to the Earth rotation, we adjust the atomic clock scale,” he said. 

Some engineers oppose the introduction of a leap second, as it could lead to large-scale and devastating tech issues. Meta engineers Oleg Obleukhov and Ahmad Byagowi, who is also a researcher, wrote blog post about it for Meta, which is supporting an industry-wide effort to stop future introductions of leap seconds.

“Negative leap second handling is supported for a long time and companies like Meta often run simulations of this event,” they told CBS News. “However, it has never been verified on a large scale and will likely lead to unpredictable and devastating outages across the world.”