Have you noticed changes in the weather or climate in your corner of the world? Perhaps these changes are not so noticeable from year to year. A person gets used to a lot of things, misses a lot and takes a lot for granted. According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who made the March report on the “One Planet Summit”, climate changes in 2018 were the most large-scale and negative in the entire history of observations. 2019 successfully picked up the baton and put a lot of uncomfortable questions in the minds of scientific community.
From year to year, winds and air pressure patterns change, causing different forces to act on the solid Earth. During El Niño years, for example, the rotation of the Earth may slow ever so slightly because of stronger winds, increasing the length of a day by a fraction of a millisecond (thousandth of a second).
Issac Newton’s laws of motion explain how those quantities are related to the Earth’s rotation rate (leading to a change in the length of day) as well as the exact position in which the North Pole points in the heavens (known also as polar motion, or Earth wobble).
To understand the concept of angular momentum, visualize the Earth spinning in space. Given Earth’s overall mass and its rotation, it contains a certain amount of angular momentum. When an additional force acting at a distance from the Earth’s rotational axis occurs, referred to as a torque, such as changes in surface winds, or the distribution of high and low pressure patterns, especially near mountains, it can act to change the rate of the Earth’s rotation or even the direction of the rotational axis.
Because of the law of “conservation of angular momentum,” small but detectable changes in the Earth’s rotation and those in the rotation of the atmosphere are linked. The conservation of angular momentum is a law of physics that states the total angular momentum of a rotating object with no outside force remains constant regardless of changes within the system.
An example of this principle occurs when a skater pulls his or her arms inward during a spin (changing the mass distribution to one nearer the rotation axis, reducing the “moment of inertia,” and speeds up (increasing the skater’s spin); because the moment of inertia goes down, the spin rate must increase to keep the total angular momentum of the system unchanged.
“The key is that the sum of the angular momentum (push) of the solid Earth plus atmosphere system must stay constant unless an outside force (torque) is applied,” Salstein said. “So if the atmosphere speeds up (stronger westerly winds) then the solid Earth must slow down (length-of-day increases).Also if more atmosphere moves to a lower latitude (further from the axis of rotation), and atmospheric pressure increases, it also gains angular momentum and the Earth would slow down as well.”
Other motions of the atmosphere such as larger mass in one hemisphere than the other can lead to a wobble (like a washing machine with clothes off-balance) and the poles move, in accordance to the law of the conservation of angular momentum.
Salstein looked at wind and pressure measurements from a National Weather Service analysis that makes use of a combination of ground-based, aircraft, and space-based observations. The measurements for the Earth’s motions come from a variety of space-based measurements including satellites, like those in the Global Positioning System (GPS), the geodetic satellites that included records from NASA’s older LAGEOS satellite, and observations of distant astronomical objects using a technique known as Very Long Baseline Interferometry. Understanding the atmospheric pressure patterns, moreover, is essential to interpret results from NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE).
The fact that the two vastly different systems, namely the meteorological and the astronomical, are in good agreement according to the conservation of angular momentum gives us assurance that both these types of measurements must be accurate. It shows, moreover, that changes in climate signals can have global implications on Earth’s overall rotation.
What If Earth Started Spinning Backward?
For billions of years, Earth has rotated in the same direction as the sun — but what if that direction were reversed?
Deserts would cover North America, arid sand dunes would replace expanses of the Amazon rainforest in South America, and lush, green landscapes would flourish from central Africa to the Middle East, according to a computer simulation presented earlier this month at the annual European Geosciences Union General Assembly 2018 in Austria.
In the simulation, not only did deserts vanish from some continents and appear in others, but freezing winters plagued western Europe. Cyanobacteria, a group of bacteria that produce oxygen through photosynthesis, bloomed where they never had before. And the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC), an important climate-regulating ocean current in the Atlantic, faded away and resurfaced in the northern Pacific Ocean, scientists reported at the conference.
During Earth’s yearlong orbit around the sun, our planet completes a full rotation on its axis — which runs from the North Pole to South Pole — every 24 hours, spinning at a rate of about 1,040 mph (1,670 km/h) as measured at the equator. Its rotation direction is prograde, or west to east, which appears counterclockwise when viewed from above the North Pole, and it is common to all the planets in our solar system except Venus and Uranus, according to NASA.
As Earth rotates, the push and pull of its momentum shapes ocean currents, which, along with atmospheric wind flows, produces a range of climate patterns around the globe. These patterns carry abundant rainfall to humid jungles or divert moisture away from rain-parched badlands, for example.
To study how Earth’s climate system is affected by its rotation, scientists recently modeled a digital version of Earth spinning in the opposite direction — clockwise when viewed from above the North Pole, a direction known as retrograde, Florian Ziemen, co-creator of the simulation and a researcher with the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Germany, told Live Science in an email.
“[Reversing Earth’s rotation] preserves all major characteristics of the topography like sizes, shapes and positions of continents and oceans, while creating a completely different set of conditions for the interactions between the circulation and the topography,” Ziemen said.
This new rotation set the stage for ocean currents and winds to interact with the continents in different ways, generating entirely new climate conditions around the world, the researchers reported in a project overview.
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To simulate what would happen if Earth were to spin backward (retrograde instead of prograde), they used the Max Planck Institute Earth System Model to flip the sun’s rotational path — and thereby flip Earth’s rotation — and reverse the Coriolis effect, an invisible force that pushes against objects traveling over a rotating planet’s surface.
Once those alterations were in place and the model showed Earth spinning in the opposite direction, the researchers observed the changes that emerged in the climate system over several thousand years, as feedback among the rotation, atmosphere and ocean went to work on the planet, the scientists wrote in a description of the work, which they are currently preparing for publication.
Overall, the researchers found that a backward-spinning Earth was a greener Earth. Global desert coverage shrank from about 16 million square miles (42 million square kilometers) to around 12 million square miles (31 million square km). Grasses sprouted over half of the former desert areas, and woody plants emerged to cover the other half. And this world’s vegetation stored more carbon than our forward-spinning Earth, the researchers discovered.
However, deserts emerged where they never had before — in the southeastern U.S., southern Brazil and Argentina, and northern China.
The change in rotation also reversed global wind patterns, bringing temperature changes to the subtropics and midlatitudes; continents’ western zones cooled as eastern boundaries warmed, and winters became significantly colder in northwestern Europe. Ocean currents also changed direction, warming seas’ eastern boundaries .
VIA : nasa.gov
A typical desk globe is designed to be a geometric sphere and to rotate smoothly when you spin it. Our actual planet is far less perfect — in both shape and in rotation.
Earth is not a perfect sphere. When it rotates on its spin axis — an imaginary line that passes through the North and South Poles — it drifts and wobbles. These spin-axis movements are scientifically referred to as “polar motion.” Measurements for the 20th century show that the spin axis drifted about 4 inches (10 centimeters) per year. Over the course of a century, that becomes more than 11 yards (10 meters).
Using observational and model-based data spanning the entire 20th century, NASA scientists have for the first time identified three broadly-categorized processes responsible for this drift — contemporary mass loss primarily in Greenland, glacial rebound, and mantle convection.
“The traditional explanation is that one process, glacial rebound, is responsible for this motion of Earth’s spin axis. But recently, many researchers have speculated that other processes could have potentially large effects on it as well,” said first author Surendra Adhikari of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “We assembled models for a suite of processes that are thought to be important for driving the motion of the spin axis. We identified not one but three sets of processes that are crucial — and melting of the global cryosphere (especially Greenland) over the course of the 20th century is one of them.”
In general, the redistribution of mass on and within Earth — like changes to land, ice sheets, oceans and mantle flow — affects the planet’s rotation. As temperatures increased throughout the 20th century, Greenland’s ice mass decreased. In fact, a total of about 7,500 gigatons — the weight of more than 20 million Empire State Buildings — of Greenland’s ice melted into the ocean during this time period. This makes Greenland one of the top contributors of mass being transferred to the oceans, causing sea level to rise and, consequently, a drift in Earth’s spin axis.
While ice melt is occurring in other places (like Antarctica), Greenland’s location makes it a more significant contributor to polar motion.
“There is a geometrical effect that if you have a mass that is 45 degrees from the North Pole — which Greenland is — or from the South Pole (like Patagonian glaciers), it will have a bigger impact on shifting Earth’s spin axis than a mass that is right near the Pole,” said coauthor Eric Ivins, also of JPL.
Previous studies identified glacial rebound as the key contributor to long-term polar motion. And what is glacial rebound? During the last ice age, heavy glaciers depressed Earth’s surface much like a mattress depresses when you sit on it. As that ice melts, or is removed, the land slowly rises back to its original position. In the new study, which relied heavily on a statistical analysis of such rebound, scientists figured out that glacial rebound is likely to be responsible for only about a third of the polar drift in the 20th century.
The authors argue that mantle convection makes up the final third. Mantle convection is responsible for the movement of tectonic plates on Earth’s surface. It is basically the circulation of material in the mantle caused by heat from Earth’s core. Ivins describes it as similar to a pot of soup placed on the stove. As the pot, or mantle, heats, the pieces of the soup begin to rise and fall, essentially forming a vertical circulation pattern — just like the rocks moving through Earth’s mantle.
With these three broad contributors identified, scientists can distinguish mass changes and polar motion caused by long-term Earth processes over which we have little control from those caused by climate change. They now know that if Greenland’s ice loss accelerates, polar motion likely will, too.
The paper in Earth and Planetary Science Letters is titled “What drives 20th century polar motion?” Besides JPL, coauthor institutions include the German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam; the University of Oslo, Norway; Technical University of Denmark, Kongens Lyngby; the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Copenhagen, Denmark; and the University of Bremen, Germany.
An interactive simulation of how multiple processes contribute to the wobbles in Earth’s spin axis.
Earth Catastrophe Cycle – Pole shift.
Solar flares are already known to change the Earth’s rotation, now imagine one 100 to 1 000 times larger than what is known.
How does the crust unlock from the mantle? Would a tilt be included or rotation change only?
A pole shift is already underway.
Earth’s cataclysmic history and how Earth goes through these period of chaos and destruction over the span of millions of years.
They look at the Magnetic Polar Reversals, Crustal Displacement and even Micro Nova that are produced from our own star, the Sun.
Earth is well over due another cycle and currently scientists are seeing increasing changes within the magnetic field of the earth and the north magnetic pole has been erratically changing direction and speed over the past few decades.
Interestingly much information on the topic has been buried by the powers that be, and with much research and plenty of digging some of these earlier texts are coming to light. They also present interesting evidence of these events in the past.
NOAA forecasters say there is a 55% to 60% chance of geomagnetic storms on May 15th and 16th when a series of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) could hit Earth’s magnetic field. Storm levels are expected to range between category G1 and G2. This means auroras could be sighted in northern-tier US states such as Montana, Minnesota, and upstate New York.
Three and possibly four CMEs are en route to Earth following a series of explosions near sunspot AR2741. The most potent so far occurred on May 12th when a filament of magnetism surrounding the sunspot became unstable and erupted. The blast zone was more than 200,000 km in diameter:
How the Strongest Solar Flare in a Decade Is Affecting Earth
The monster burst of radiation already caused brief radio blackouts and may trigger strong auroras in the coming days.
The sun unleashed two monster solar flares, the second of which was the most powerful we’ve seen in more than a decade. The burst of radiation was so intense, it caused high-frequency radio blackouts across the daytime side of Earth that lasted for about an hour.
Solar flares are giant explosions on the surface of the sun that occur when twisted magnetic field lines suddenly snap and release massive amounts of energy.
Space weather scientists classify flares based on their intensity, with X-class flares being the most powerful. These explosions can release as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the sun began unleashing its fury on Wednesday at 5:10 a.m. ET, with an X2.2 flare. Just three hours later, the sun produced a second flare measuring a whopping X9.3—the most powerful on record since 2006.
The strongest solar flare measured in modern times happened in 2003, when scientists recorded a blast so powerful that it was off the charts at X28.
On Thursday morning, scientists using the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, satellite confirmed that an accompanying giant cloud of charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection, now has Earth in its crosshairs. (Find out how sun-watchers stopped World War III in 1967.)
Why shark attacks are more common in the Atlantic than the Pacific
Even a glancing blow to our planet’s magnetic field from a powerful CME can trigger a geomagnetic storm, which can disrupt satellites, GPS navigation, and the power grid but can also spawn especially brilliant auroras. SOHO scientists predict that a strong geomagnetic storm will hit on September 8.
Sky-watchers, particularly those in high-latitude regions, should be on the lookout for auroras visible in the northern skies over the course of this week and into the weekend.
And the sun may not be over its tantrum yet. The same sunspot group that sparked the Wednesday flares, known to scientists as active region 2673, belched out a medium M-class flare on Tuesday that also triggered an aurora alert.
While the sun is now heading toward the minimum level of activity in its natural 11-year cycle, these sunspots could continue to flare up in the days ahead.
What are some of the effects of solar flares on Earth?
I already know that solar flares cause the earth’s atmosphere to become more ionized and has an effect on radio signals which causes a disruption in wireless communication.
“There are many effects of solar flares (and related solar processes) on Earth.
Some conditions in space have the potential to seriously affect us on Earth. We call these conditions “space weather”. The causes can include radiation storms and ejections from the Sun as well disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field caused by the Sun. Besides triggering beautiful auroras, these solar storms can damage satellites, disrupt power grids and electrical systems, interfere with cell phones and other communications, and disturb animal movements. They can even threaten astronauts and high-flying airplanes with their radiation!
A curriculum unit designed for middle and high school science teachers highlighting the types of solar activity that threaten Earth and the potential impact they can have.
National Academy of Sciences about the potential global impact of a super large solar flare, such as the “Carrington flare” of 1859 (which was also the first solar flare ever observed, and named after Richard Carrington, one of the observers). This event caused a severe geomagnetic storm, which disrupted telegraph communications and had it occurred today, its impact on electrical systems, telecommunications and commerce would be catastrophic.
The direct effects of solar flares are mainly related to communications and radio transmissions, which you already seem to know about. Solar flares are often associated with coronal mass ejections, the ejections of electrons, protons and ions from the Sun. These charged particles have some other effects on Earth. The Earth has a natural protection against these charged particles: its magnetic field and atmosphere that blocks most of them. However, some charged particles can enter the atmosphere at the magnetic poles.
One of the most spectacular (and extremely beautiful) consequence of this are auroras. When charged particles (especially electrons) find their way at the poles, they get accelerated along the lines of the magnetic field and collide with the particles in the atmosphere which makes them glow. That glow is what we see as an aurora.
There are also health issues for airline pilots and astronauts. For those of us that spend most of our time on the ground, the magnetic field and the atmosphere block out almost all of the harmful radiation and charged particles. This is not the case when you go up in the atmosphere. Airline pilots that fly at great altitude, and especially near the poles, are exposed to more of these. The same goes for astronauts. This results in a higher incidence of cancer among airline pilots and cabin crew. Astronauts have even reported seeing flashes of light because of high energy protons hitting their eyes!
A PowerPoint presentation explains the effects of space weather upon the Earth and the steps we might take to be more prepared.
The impact of disasters on agriculture and food security
Droughts, floods, storms and other disasters triggered by climate change have risen in frequency and severity over the last three decades, increasing the damage caused to the agricultural sectors of many developing countries and putting them at risk of growing food insecurity, FAO warns in a new report released ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21)in Paris.
Worldwide, between 2003 and 2019– the period analyzed in the study – the average annual number of disasters caused by all types of natural hazards, including climate-related events, almost doubled since the 1980s. The total economic damage caused is estimated at $2.5 trillion.
The FAO report is based on a review of 78 on the ground post disaster needs-assessments conducted in developing countries coupled with statistical analyses of production losses, changes in trade flows and agriculture sector growth associated with 140 medium and large scale disasters – defined as those affecting at least 250,000 people.
The report clearly demonstrates that natural hazards – particularly extreme weather events – regularly impact heavily on agriculture and hamper the eradication of hunger, poverty and the achievement of sustainable development.
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