11 June 2007

The positive side of global warming

An unexpected bonus of global warming is predicted:

Yet another potential impact from global warming: It may speed Earth's rotation. According to a computer model run by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany, climate change will warm the oceans; as the water warms, it will expand, causing sea level to rise—already up 0.17 meter (nearly seven inches) over the course of the last century—shifting liquid from the ocean depths to the shallows near shore.

As a result, the relative distribution of water mass will shift away from the equator and closer to the poles. Enough water will move that Earth will actually spin slightly faster, like a figure skater who brings her arms closer to her body. "Earth's rotation rate changes if its moment of inertia is altered via redistribution of mass in the oceans," geophysicist Felix Landerer and his colleagues report in Geophysical Research Letters. The result: a day that is 0.12 millisecond—slightly more than one ten-thousandth of a second—shorter two centuries from now.
Of course, the speeding up will play havoc with our watches that shall be adjusted to the new rotation speed.

But think about the possibility that the paycheck day will come quicker and quicker every year!