Catastrophe for mankind and the planet: what will happen when the Earth's rotation accelerates

Dmytro IvancheskulLife
Our planet can make life "fun" for mankind simply by speeding up

While mankind worries about nuclear war or climate change, few think about the fact that the Earth itself could give mankind a "fun" life if it spun too fast. Such a change would cause the planet to start flattening, and much of the water would collect closer to the equator line and probably even rise into the sky.

Of course, this would lead to a radical change in the lifestyle of those people who would survive the constant earthquakes that would also be caused by the acceleration of the Earth's rotation.

How things might actually be, tells PopSci, whose journalists talked to the scientists who predicted the sad fate of mankind.

What is the rotational speed of the Earth?

It should be noted that the speed of rotation of the Earth is different in its different points. Thus, the highest speed - more than 1668 km per hour - is observed at the equator, as in this place the circumference of the planet is the widest. Meanwhile, at the level of Kiev the speed of rotation of the Earth is reduced to 1076 kilometers per hour.

Scientists suggest that even an acceleration of 1.6 kilometers per hour may have serious consequences, although they will not be noticeable at once.

First of all, there will be a migration of water from the poles and raising its level around the equator. We are talking about an increase in water levels of only 5-10 centimeters, but even this will make a difference.

Much worse, even a slight acceleration of the Earth will affect the satellites launched by mankind. Since they fly in geosynchronous orbit, at the same speed as the spinning planet, everything will collapse after acceleration.

And if the satellites are out of place, you can say goodbye to satellite communications, TV broadcasts, GPS operation, and more. Part of the failure can be repaired, because some satellites have fuel and maybe they can adjust their positions and speed, but a significant portion of them will simply have to be replaced.

However, this is all child's play. The real catastrophe begins when the Earth really picks up speed.

Jetlag and weightlessness

If the Earth accelerates at 160 kilometers per hour, the first thing everyone will feel is a jet lag. The same syndrome you feel when you change time zones as a result of flying east or west. At that moment, your biological clock lives in one time and you yourself live in another. Symptoms include fatigue, insomnia, headaches, loss of appetite and general discomfort.

All this is because, along with acceleration, the duration of the day will begin to shorten - 22 hours instead of 24. So you would start to have a nice divergence.

And not only people would be affected, because both flora and fauna depend on the 24-hour rotation of the Earth around the Sun.

You will also begin to feel as if you have become lighter, while your weight will remain the same. The reason this will happen is because the acceleration will reduce the effect of gravity, which presses you against the Earth. Up to the point where you can fly away from the planet.

As NASA astronomer Stan Odenwald has calculated, if the Earth's rotation speed increases to more than 28,000 kilometers per hour (yes, that is unlikely), people on the planet will become virtually weightless, because the centrifugal force (the same force that tries to throw you off the merry-go-round) will surpass the gravitational force that keeps us on the planet.

Another thing is that it will be extremely difficult to live up to the moment when the Earth spins up to such a speed, because the acceleration will lead to natural cataclysms.

But all this will happen if the Earth accelerates suddenly.

"If it accelerates gradually over millions of years, we will adapt to it," Odenwald is confident.

Hurricanes, earthquakes and other disasters

The acceleration of the Earth will also unwind the atmosphere, which means that hurricanes will become much faster and have more energy for destruction.

The extra speed at the equator, as mentioned above, will start to pull water down from the poles. But if we are talking about an acceleration of not 1.6 km, but 160 km per hour, it will turn into a global disaster.

"I think the Amazon basin, North Australia, not to mention the islands in the equatorial region, they will all go under water," said Witold Fracek, an analyst at ESRI, a geographic information systems (GIS) software company.

According to his predictions, we are talking about 10-20 meters of water.

But that is not all. Suppose the acceleration increases by 1,600 km/h.

"That would certainly be catastrophic," Fracheck believes.

He predicts that in such a case, only the peaks of Kilimanjaro or the highest peaks of the Andes would be visible above the water.

Excess water would be extracted from the polar regions, where the centrifugal force is less, so the Arctic Ocean would become much shallower.

Another interesting point, the extra centrifugal force from rotation would make it easier for water at the equator to fight gravity. Fracheck predicts that the air in these regions would be saturated with moisture, resulting in constant rainfall.

At about 27,000 km/h, the centrifugal force at the equator would compare with gravity and water would begin to fall upward. But it is unlikely that there will still be people living in the equatorial region who will be able to see this.

Fracheck believes that the only way to save people from the equatorial countries would be to move to the dehydrated polar regions, or at least the middle latitudes.

An even greater increase in the speed of the Earth's rotation would also cause the Earth's crust to eventually shift as well. The planet would have lost its rounded shape, flattening at the poles and bulging at the equator.

"We would have huge earthquakes. The tectonic plates would move rapidly, and it would be catastrophic for life on the planet," Fracheck predicts.

Slow down, please

As Odenwald explains, in reality, the Earth's rotational speed is constantly fluctuating at the millisecond level. Earthquakes, tsunamis, and even large air masses and melting glaciers can alter it.

He explains that billions of years ago, the Earth was probably shaped like a flattened ball and rotated so fast that a day lasted only a few hours. Subsequently, the Earth collided with an unknown object, causing a radical change in the shape of the planet as well as the formation of the Moon.

Since then, the Earth has been slowing down by about 6.1 km per hour every 10 million years. And since the gravitational influence of the Moon is the main factor in the slowing down, it means that it is much more likely that in the future the Earth's rotation will slow down, not speed up.

"It is inconceivable that the Earth could accelerate so dramatically. To spin faster, the right object would have to hit it, and that would tear up the crust, and we'd be dead either way," Odenwald summarized.

OBOZREVATEL previously told what happens when the Milky Way galaxy crashes into Andromeda.

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