Falling Short on Time? Earth Might Have 25 Hours in a Day in The Future
About 1.4 billion years ago, when the moon was not that far from the earth, the days used to be just 18 hours and 41 minutes but it is 24 hours at present and increasing. The reason is the moon is moving away from Earth causing it to move slowly and making the days longer. Happy news for people who wished to have more hours in a day as geoscientists say that days on Earth are getting longer.
The lead author of the geoscien
ce study, Stephen Meyers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison explained the relation between Earth’s spin and the location of Moon as that of a spinning figure skater and his arms. The Moon will continue to move about 1.5 inches away from the Earth and the days will get longer. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
A statistical method called astrochronology is used by the researchers for this study to look back on Earth’s geologic past, reconstruct the history of the solar system and understand ancient climate change as captured in the rock record. The Milankovitch cycles collectively refer to three dominant cycles of variations in the Earth’s eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession. These cycles determine Earth’s climate rhythms.
During the study of sediments from a 90 million-year-old rock that captured the earth’s climate cycles, the research team cracked the code on the chaotic solar system. They were able to reliably assess from a layer of rock in the geologic record variations in the direction of the axis of rotation of Earth and the shape of its orbit. It allowed them to make more accurate choices than before.
Stephen Meyers explains, “As the moon moves away, the Earth is like a spinning figure skater who slows down as they stretch their arms out. One of our ambitions was to use astrochronology to tell time in the most distant past, to develop very ancient geological timescales. We want to be able to study rocks that are billions of years old in a way that is comparable to how we study modern geologic processes.”
Prof. Meyers and his team are seeking better ways of knowing what our planetary neighbours were doing billions of years ago.