A faster spinning Earth may cause timekeepers to subtract a second from world clocks

The Earth’s rotation is speeding up, potentially leading to a negative leap second around 2029, according to recent reports. This global phenomenon has been delayed by about three years due to the melting of ice at the poles.

The situation involves a complex combination of physics, global power politics, climate change, technology, and the interaction of two types of time. Ever since atomic clocks were officially adopted as the standard over 55 years ago, there have been two versions of time: astronomical and atomic.

Leap seconds were originally added to the calendar because the Earth’s rotation was slowing down. However, in 2016 or 2017, the Earth began speeding up due to unpredictable actions of its hot liquid core. The melting ice at the poles has temporarily masked this effect, pushing back the need for a negative leap second to 2029 instead of 2026.

To address this issue, timekeepers have decided to change the standards for leap seconds starting in the 2030s, in an effort to make it less likely. Tech companies like Google and Amazon have also developed their own solutions for the leap second problem.

However, skipping a second may prove challenging as most software programs are designed to add, not subtract time. Some experts speculate that the need for a negative leap second may be linked to Earth’s changing shape from geologic shifts.

While some scientists support the idea of a negative leap second, others are uncertain about long-term predictions regarding Earth’s rotation. As the global community continues to monitor these changes, the implications of a negative leap second remain a topic of interest and debate within the scientific community.

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