We all know that global warming has the power to change weather patterns, melt polar ice caps and wreak general havoc around the Earth, but NASA just discovered that it’s also changing the way our entire planet rotates.
You see, when you look at a globe, you’ll notice that the Earth always spins on a specific angle. But in reality, that axis wobbles and shifts around due to a variety of factors. In the year 2000, for example, researchers with NASA noticed that the North Pole went from slowly moving towards Canada, to quickly moving East. And when we say “quickly”, we mean at twice the speed it was moving before–roughly 17 centimeters per year.
“It’s no longer moving toward Hudson Bay, but instead toward the British Isles,” Surendra Adhikari of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said. “That’s a massive swing.”
Naturally, it wasn’t long before those scientists dug in to find out what was causing the big shift. And sixteen years later, they finally have an answer: humans.
It turns out that the loss of mass from Greenland as a result of melting ice is helping to pull the North Pole East. But a second force was found even further.
“The bulk of the answer is a deficit of water in Eurasia: the Indian subcontinent and the Caspian Sea area,” Adhikari said.
This deficit in the water supply was caused mainly through droughts and a depletion of the area’s aquifers. The reason that can cause the North Pole to shift is because, generally speaking, when mass is lost in one part of the world, the Earth’s axis is drawn to it.
The good news is, the change in the North Pole probably won’t effect your day to day life. Scientists only bother keeping track of it because axis changes have ramifications for things like GPS systems and satellites. More than anything else, this should be seen as a testament to how much power humans have over the planet, as these findings come after NASA discovered we’re also slowing the rotation of the Earth, making each day a little longer.
Doesn’t the future just look bright?