Harvard University researchers have provided an answer to a long-held conundrum over how shrinking glaciers are affecting the rotation and axis of the Earth, calculating that the duration of a day has lengthened by a millisecond over the past 100 years.
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The brakes will be more sharply applied to the Earth’s rotation as glaciers melt at an ever faster rate, meaning that at least five milliseconds will be added to each day over the course of the 21st century. The axis of the Earth will shift too, with the north pole set to move position by about 1cm (o.4in) during this century.
The research, published in Science Advances, apparently solved a scientific puzzle known as “Munk’s enigma”, which came from a 2002 researcher paper by oceanographer Walter Munk, examining how the melting of glaciers had altered the Earth’s rotation and axis.