According to Korean scientists, the ‘wobble’ in Earth’s axis is caused by shifting its mass to meet human drinking water and agriculture needs.
The team estimates that between 1993 and 2010, humans displaced enough water to cause a 31-inch (78.5-centimeter) eastward tilt of the Earth.
If the Earth’s axis were to shift, more sunlight would reach the poles, hastening the melting of polar ice.
Previous studies have demonstrated that melting glaciers and rising sea levels can further change Earth’s mass distribution in a vicious cycle.
Researchers from Seoul National University conducted the latest study, published in Geophysical Research Letters.
According to our research, groundwater redistribution is the most critical factor in the rotating pole’s movement due to climate change. In contrast to the permanent positions of the geographic north and south, the rotating pole of Earth moves concerning the crust.
However, because mass distribution is influenced by water distribution, the axis begins to shift and wobble when water is removed from one region of the globe.
The wobble of Earth’s axis isn’t noticeable in daily life, but it must be accounted for when using GPS, satellites, or ground observatories to achieve precise readings.
According to the study, the potential impact of groundwater on polar drift depends on its location. They discovered that the rotating pole is most affected by water redistribution at mid-latitudes or the region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
Western North America and northwest India, both at midlatitudes, had the most significant amount of water redistribution throughout the research period.
However, the researchers found that water currents are not the main element in determining the axis of rotation.
The sloshing of molten iron in the Earth’s core, melting ice, ocean currents, and storms are all other factors that contribute to the movement of the poles.
One would think the massive oceans would stabilize the earth’s rotation instead of pockets of groundwater used for sustaining life on land having that much influence on our spinning planet.