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Melting ice sheets are changing Earth’s wobble

Melting polar ice sheets are changing the wobbling motion of Earth and—in the process—the location of the North Pole, Associated Press reports. As Greenland and parts of Antarctica have lost hundreds of trillions of tons of ice annually in the last decade, the distribution of weight on Earth’s surface has shifted, according to the study published last week in Science Advances. This has altered the natural wobble of Earth’s poles as it rotates in a way similar to a spinning figure skater lifting one leg, NASA scientists told Associated Press. Meanwhile, Earth’s “instantaneous” north pole, the point at which Earth’s rotational axis meets its surface, is now shifting east toward the United Kingdom. For much of the 20th century it had been moving toward Canada. Though the changes will have little impact on humans, they show the profoundly large impact that humans are having on the planet, researchers say.


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