Tuesday, 16 October, 2018


Study finds that days on Earth are getting longer - here's why

Longer days The earth and the moon GETTYLonger days The interaction between Earth's and the Moon's gravity is strong
Kristine Garrett | 07 June, 2018, 17:29

The moon's retreat causes Earth to spin more slowly on its axis, increasing the amount of daily sunlight a given region receives.

Stephen Meyers, a professor of geoscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, employed a statistical method called astrochronology, which uses geological observations and astronomical theories to reconstruct our early solar system and track how it affected Earth's climate over time. These variations are also determining how and where the light and warmth coming from the Sun in distributed on the surface of Earth, therefore these Milankovitch cycles are also influencing the climatic rhythm of Earth. According to Meyers, his team had the ambition of using astrochronology to tell time in the distant past and to develop very ancient geological time scales.

The moon is believed to be moving away from Earth at a rate of 3.82 centimetres a year. As per these calculations, if we go back to around a billion years ago, a day on our planet would last for about five hours and fifteen minutes shorter than the present situation.

We sometimes wish days were longer to fit our busy schedules.

Prof. Meyers and his team are seeking better ways of knowing what our planetary neighbours were doing billions of years ago. According to the study, the moon gradually moved away from the Earth and would also continue to move further away.

Examining the geologic record captured in the rock layers and integrating the measure of uncertainty revealed changes in Earth's rotation, orbit and distance from the moon throughout history, as well as how the length of day on Earth has steadily increased.

Looking to find a better way to account for the motion of our planetary neighbors, Meyers teamed up Alberto Malinverno, Lamont Research Professor at Columbia, and combined a statistical method created to deal with uncertainty, called TimeOpt, with astronomical theory, geologic data and a sophisticated statistical approach called Bayesian inversion. Meyer estimated as to how the Earth rotated near about a billion years ago. In relation to this, Meyers says, "We were excited about rebuilding the Milankovitch cycles as it offers an effective tool for understanding and estimating our planet as well as the history of the solar system".

The group research studies 2 stratigraphic rock layers i.e. 55 million-year-old record from Walvis Ridge and 1.4 billion-year-old Xiamaling Development discovered in Northern China.

"Astronomers can clearly calculate changes in Earth's orbit about 50 million years into the past, but beyond that point the calculations become impossible due to the effects of what we call chaos theory, which makes the calculations too complex to complete", he said.

Being the nearest astronomical body near earth, the Moon directly influences Earth's rotations and tilt on its axis, it also affects how our planet is orbiting around the sun. Rocks have been on Earth for a very long time; they studied rocks from different time periods and made a timeline of climate changes that took place in the past. Next, they want to apply their method to other intervals of geologic time, added study co-author and Lamont Research Professor at Columbia, Alberto Malinverno in the statement. "We are looking at its pulsing rhythm, preserved in the rock and the history of life".

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