With high-precision atomic clocks, scientists began measuring the planet’s rotation and concluded that June 29 was the shortest day since the 1960s. Scientists marked it the shortest day ever recorded.
They also warned that the consequence of the rotation’s speeding up can result in removing an entire second from atomical clocks. Astrophysicist, Graham Jones furthered the claims by naming the loss of a second, “If Earth’s fast rotation continues, it could lead to the introduction of the first-ever negative leap second.”
Leonid Zotov and other scientists claim that the irregular rotations are a consequence of the “Chandler Wobble.” Which is the change in the spin of Earth on its axis. Zotov told TimeandDate, “The normal amplitude of the Chandler wobble is about 3m to 4m at Earth’s surface, but from 2017 to 2020 it disappeared.
Some experts think the erratic speed may be caused by the ice caps on the tallest mountains in the world melting and refreezing.
The ‘negative leap second” could have effects of its own, including rekindling the discussion that after more than 5,000 years, the concept of measuring time by the movement of the planet has outlived its usefulness.
The International Telecommunication Union, a UN agency, admitted to adding sporadic leap seconds in June or December, most recently in 2016, to keep clocks in sync with the planet’s spin. This action stops the clocks for a second so that the Earth can catch up.
In 1972, the first leap second was introduced. The next opportunity presents itself this December, though it’s extremely unlikely to be needed given how rapidly the Earth is rotating.
according to NASA, Stronger winds in “El Nio years.” can slow the planet’s rotation and lengthen the day by a few hundredths of a millisecond. While earthquakes might have the opposite outcome. The Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004 caused an earthquake that moved enough rock to cut the day by almost three microseconds.
Similar to how a spinning ice skater accelerates when they draw in their arms, anything that pushes mass towards the center of the Earth will hasten the planet’s rotation. It will have the reverse effect and slow the rotation if geological activity pulls material away from the center.
According to Zotov, we probably won’t ever need to use a negative leap second, admitting that there was a ‘70 % chance,’ that the planet already reached the minimum length of a day. Before adding that it was impossible to be certain.