We are pumping out so much groundwater that the Earth’s axis has shifted

We are pumping out so much groundwater that the Earth’s axis has shifted

The Earth’s rotation is not a model of stability. The Earth’s axis moves slowly and erratically and wobbles because all the masses do not stay in place. Astronomers see this in quasars, which are bright objects in the sky that hardly deviate from their position.

Movements in the atmosphere due to the seasons are the main factor for the fluctuation. The geographic North Pole – the point at which the axis of rotation protrudes through the Earth’s surface – thus draws a circle about ten meters long.

But when American geophysicists wanted to know the contribution of melting ice caps and glaciers, their models didn’t work. Maybe we should involve groundwater, as someone suggested at the time.

Humans pump out millions of cubic meters of water every year, especially in the western United States and northern India. The water that not all flows into those reservoirs, but also remains partially in the oceans. In net terms, the world’s groundwater reserves shrank by more than 2 trillion cubic meters between 1993 and 2010, geophysicists wrote in their journal last week. Geophysical Research Letters.

The oceans rose about six millimeters and the Arctic moved about 80 centimeters in that period, or more than four centimeters a year. It doesn’t sound like much, but the impact of groundwater is greater than that of melting in Greenland or Antarctica. Moreover, the picture that science has of the Earth’s oscillation is now complete.

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The North does not hold

The rotation of iron in the Earth’s core gives the planet its magnetic field. A field runs strictly from north to south until it turns and the compass needle pointing at the North Pole turns south. This reversal can happen quickly.

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