How melting glaciers have accelerated a shift in Earth’s axis

The redistribution of water has caused the planet to lean and wobble, resulting in the poles moving

a polar bear on melting ice
A recent study has blamed the lurch in the Earth’s axis and poles on the melting of the world’s glaciers, especially from the polar regions. Photograph: Bj Kirschhoffer/Polar Bears International/AFP/Getty Images

Jeremy Plester Thu 6 May 2021 01.00 EDT

The axis of the Earth has shifted and moved the locations of the north and south poles. The poles have always wandered very gradually on the globe but in 1995 the north pole turned away from Canada towards Russia and accelerated over the next 15 years, 17 times faster than the previous 15 years.The distribution of water over the planet is a big driving force behind this shift, by changing the way mass is distributed around the world. The Earth spins around on its axis like a spinning top, and if its weight is shifted around on the globe it starts to lean and wobble, changing the axis and poles.

recent study has blamed this lurch in the Earth’s axis and poles on the melting of the world’s glaciers and especially from the polar regions, with melting glaciers elsewhere adding to the problem. Widespread pumping of groundwater may have also been a contributing factor. It is thought that melting ice as a result of global warming, redistributing water around the globe and that change in the distribution of Earth’s mass looks like it was enough to account for most of the shift in the poles and axis.

The Guardian

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