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A Wobbling Top!
By Ernest Stewart

"Imagine we have a perfect sphere that is rotating on an axis. If you remove a chunk of material from any location of that idealized sphere, then you are perturbing the system, and the axis tends to head toward the location where you lose the mass." ~~~ Surendra Adhikari

Just when you thought global warming couldn't get much worse, a new NASA study concludes that global warming is shifting the way the Earth wobbles on its polar axis. Oh my! Do not confuse polar motion with geomagnetic reversal: the periodic reversal of the Earth's magnetic field effectively switching the north and south magnetic poles. Normally, there's been various polar wobble changes; but, a simple 1 per cent shift in the wobble normally takes millions of years!

Melting glaciers in Greenland are changing the distribution of weight on Earth. And that has caused both the North Pole and the wobble, which is called polar motion, to change course, according to a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

"Scientists and navigators have been accurately measuring the true pole and polar motion since 1899, and for almost the entire 20th century they migrated a bit toward Canada. But that has changed with this century; and now it's moving toward England," said study lead author Surendra Adhikari at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. Surendra continued, "The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic. They all combine to pull polar motion toward the east."

Jonathan Overpeck, Professor of Geosciences at the University of Arizona who wasn't part of the study, said "this highlights how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet."

"Since 2003, Greenland has lost, on average, more than 600 trillion pounds of ice a year and that affects the way the Earth wobbles in a manner similar to a figure skater lifting one leg while spinning,"
said NASA scientist Eirk Ivins, the study's co-author.

Ivins said he likes to think of it as "a billion trucks each year dumping ice out of Greenland. On top of that, West Antarctica loses 275 trillion pounds of ice and East Antarctica gains about 165 trillion pounds of ice yearly, helping tilt the wobble further."

On the bright side, some say this wobble is nothing to worry about; and, I hope they're right; but, I seem to recall from my distant childhood that a spinning top that starts to wobble will increase its wobble before it stops and falls down! Without Earth's spin, there'll be little to no gravity to keep the atmosphere intact -- or us on the ground. Is making the 1 per cent wealthier worth it, America?


09-03-1925 ~ 04-12-2016
Thanks for the film!

02-12-1945 ~ 04-13-2016
Thanks for the film!


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(c) 2016 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for 14 years was the managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine. Visit me on Facebook. Follow me on Twitter.

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