Back in year 2000, scientists noted that the North rotational pole of the Earth is shifting. The phenomenon has been studied extensively since then. Unfortunately, the underlying evidence has never been strong enough to determine the reason behind this.
Climate change causes the shift of our planet’s rotational pole.
Two decades of solid research have passed, but finally a team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory found the reason for it. The mystery is finally solved- human induced climate change.
The research, led by Surendra Adhikari, is one of the most comprehensive studies on the topic to date. Adhikari developed a number of complex mathematical models, and combined the results with series of observations.
She was able to identify two very clear causes for the shift.
On one hand, the results showed that the melting of the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets affect the motion of the polar axis. Similar shift was also noted back in the 20th century too. Back then, the melting of the Laurentide ice sheet, which used to cover Canada and the Northern parts of the US during the ice age. I say similar, because this time around the direction and the speed are different.
On the other hand, thanks to NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite, the understanding of the phenomenon became even more clear. Alongside the melting of the ice sheets, storage and distribution of water on the land was found to be equally important. According to Adhikari, desertification and floods due to climate change, together with pumping and redirecting of ground water, play a crucial role.
The scientist believes that the continuous long term observations, which have been gathered over the past century, can help reconstructing past climate. Such data can help climate scientists and hydrologists study water dynamics and identify new patterns.
The study is published in the latest issue of Science Advances.
Image (C) Science Advances