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NASA: Global Warming Is Now Changing How Earth Wobbles (go.com) 232

An anonymous reader writes: A new study from NASA finds global warming is shifting the way the Earth wobbles on its polar axis. Melting ice sheets are changing the distribution of weight on Earth, which has caused both the North Pole and the wobble, called polar motion, to change course. Since 1899, scientists and navigators have been accurately measuring the true pole and polar motion and for almost the entire 20th century they migrated a bit toward Canada. That migration has changed with this century -- now they're moving toward England, said study lead author Surendra Adhikari at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. "The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic," Adhikari said. NASA scientist and the study's co-author Eirk Ivins said, Greenland has lost on average more than 600 trillion pounds of ice a year since 2003 and that affects the way the Earth wobbles in a manner similar to a figure skater lifting one leg while spinning.
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NASA: Global Warming Is Now Changing How Earth Wobbles

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  • I alway felt that oil extraction would have the same affect.

    • I think oil extraction is fairly evenly spread around the world so it's probably a pretty small effect.

    • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

      Probably does, although simply extracting the oil all over the world and distributing it may have less effect because its flow isn't all from one or two places in one continuous cyclic stream like movement of a giant icepack would. I'm also not sure how the actual mass of the oil we have pulled out compares to the mass of an ice sheet.

    • One of the higher estimates is, since the 1850s, we've extracted about 125 billion tons of oil.

      According to the summary, Greenland alone has lost over 600 trillion pounds - or 300 billion tons. That's *just* Greenland.

      I think ice water redistribution has oil extraction beat by at least an order of magnitude, easily.
      =Smidge=

    • Re:Shifting masses (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Friday April 08, 2016 @06:20PM (#51871741) Journal
      Water extraction would be much worse. It's shifting a resource from 30% of the surface to the other 70% of the surface. And it's done at a much higher rate than oil extraction. For example, in the year 2000 a total of 26 cubic kilometers of water was pumped from just the Ogallala aquifer alone [wikipedia.org]. That amounts to around 450 million barrels a day - compared to around 90 million barrels a day of oil worldwide. And given the fact that water is 10-15% denser than oil - we have a mass shift of around 6:1 in favor of just the Ogallala aquifer water versus worldwide oil. Total water shift worldwide is probably closer to 60:1.
  • About turning the world upside down.

  • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Friday April 08, 2016 @05:19PM (#51871377)

    Just setup massive garbage dumps and prisons on Greenland.

    Move all our garbage and prisoners there. The extra mass should rebalance things.

  • How, precisely, does this change in the Earth's dynamics affect things like weather, seasons, etc?
  • By wobbling the earth, governments can cause all the loose change from our wallets to fall into the treasuries' pockets.
  • The planet is going to lose its balance and fall over. And then you'll be sorry.

    • We'll go spinning off into space like in Space:1999. The oxygen will snow down to the ground and we'll all live in tiny hovels shoveling oxygen snow [wikipedia.org] onto the fire.
    • by HiThere ( 15173 )

      Actually, that's one of the benefits of the moon. It contributes to gyroscopic stability. There's even a school that claims any planet that's going to have successful life needs to have a large moon to prevent gyroscopic tumbling killing everything off. I don't know how good their claims are, and I've never tried to check their math, but it's not totally unreasonable.

  • The article says it's nothing to worry about. Well that's what they said to Jor-El, and you know how that turned out.

    The shift in mass distribution caused by melting ice will cross the boundaries of tectonic plates, changing the relative pressure on adjacent plates. This will likely lead to increased earthquake and volcanic activity. On the bright side, the ash from the volcanoes may limit global warming (maybe even trigger an ice age), and deformations of the sea floor may reduce sea level rise (or make it

    • by Livius ( 318358 ) on Friday April 08, 2016 @09:24PM (#51872633)

      I can't imagine why they thought there was any point in telling Jor-El about the ice in Greenland, but it's no surprise he didn't have anything constructive to add.

    • But we'll probably just end up fighting over whatever habitable parts of the planet remain.

      Wow, what sort of disaster exactly are you expecting to happen?

    • What we should be discussing is whether we know enough about how this planet works (and have the technology) to attempt some kind of active intervention, such as carbon sequestration or actually blocking sunlight from space.

      How about instead of wondering if we can develop the technology to avert this we use technology we developed 70 years ago, brought to near perfection 40 years ago, and do what's left to work out the minor problems it had. I'm talking about molten salt fission reactors. We can use the plentiful thorium resources we have to produce carbon free energy. While sequestration is fine, I suppose, I do recall the first thing one should do when they find themselves in a hole. Stop digging.

      Thorium fission would al

  • Which leg and how high? Straight or bent?

  • I mean really... That said, it would be interesting to see how this "wobble" effects the distribution of thermal energy on the planet. I suspect that we're going to get a few people saying "look at the climate change!'... ignoring that maybe the earth has tilted one way or the other slightly which could account for changes in climate in parts of the world.

    Whatever... everything is climate change and everything would be improved if we just put the Marxists in power... just ask the Marxists. *rolls eyes*.

  • "Reality must take precedence over public relations, for Mother Nature cannot be fooled." -- R.P. Feynman
  • A little late for April Fools.

  • Climate change denial will not yield to logic, proofs, measurements or facts. Cowardly personalities fear change and fighting global warming and rising seas mean that many things in our lives must change. But cowards reason that they will surely be dead anyway before total calamity takes place. They could care less about their children or future generations. To then it is better that their children perish than they might be forced to pay a bit more in taxes.
  • The change matches with the rise of Dubstep.

  • http://www.wolframalpha.com/in... [wolframalpha.com]

    Result:
    2.722×10^14 kg (kilograms)
    2.722×10^11 t (metric tons)

    Volume V of water from V = m/rho_(H_2O):
        | 2.722×10^14 L (liters)
        | 272 km^3 (cubic kilometers)
        | (assuming maximum water density ~~ 1000 kg/m^3)

    • also: from TFA, it's about 2.34 milliarcseconds per year of movement. An arcsecond at the surface is roughly 30.87 meters, so we're talking 7cm of wobble. Interesting, but not necessarily "Earth-shattering"

  • When a paper uses terms like "link" and "clue" it means they don't have proof for their hypothesis. So the report didn't "find global warming is shifting the way the Earth wobbles." It found some correlations between various data sets. And as every scientist knows, and most lay persons should learn, correlations are a time a dozen and prove nothing.

    So this is just more AGW Chicken Little alarmism.

A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on. -- Samuel Goldwyn

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