Global warming will lengthen days, say Belgian researchers

February 14, 2002

Brussels, 13 February 2002

Belgian scientists have announced that global warming, caused by increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, will slow the Earth's rotation and result in longer days for everyone.

The length of the day is measured by scientists to the hundred thousandth of a second, and varies according to changes in atmospheric winds and ocean currents, which affect the Earth's angular momentum as it spins on its axis.

The researchers, from Belgium's Royal observatory and the Catholic University of Louvain used 14 different computer models to reach their conclusions. They claim that the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide by one per cent every year will slow the Earth's momentum and lead to a gradual increase in the length of the day. Days will however only lengthen by microseconds (millionths of a second) every year.

The scientists estimate an increase in day length of around 11 microseconds per decade in the 21st century, resulting in a total lengthening of 11 hundred thousandths of a second for the century as a whole.

For further information, please contact the project leader:
Olivier de Viron

Research DG; Cordis News

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