Climate Change Is Affecting Earth's Gravity!

Climate change is changing the Earth in more ways than we could've imagined! Join Amy as she discusses how the ice sheets melting is changing gravity on Earth!

Years of ongoing research and data collecting has made it pretty clear at this point that climate change is wreaking all sorts of havoc on the environment: Melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, droughts, increased number and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes ... the list goes on. But researchers have just discovered a result of climate change that you probably never expected: it's changing the earth's gravity!

The earth is not perfectly spherical and there are variations in the density of the core. These, plus a number of other factors -- like latitude, altitude, and topography -- cause natural variations in the Earth's gravity within a range of around 0.7%. This means that someone could weigh 200 lb. (or 90.71 kg) in one part of the world and 201.4 lb. (or 91.35kg ) in a different part. These variations -- however minor -- occur naturally.

Now however -- despite how sci-fi movie it sounds -- excess carbon emissions in the atmosphere are making it happen. The Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer (GOCE) was launched by the European Space Agency launched in 2009 to provide a highly detailed map of variations in the Earth's gravity field. They have been looking closely at the largest mass of ice on earth: the Antarctic ice sheet. It has been melting at an alarming rate -- increasing by a factor of three every year since 2009 -- and less ice results in lower density which, in turn, weakens the gravitational field in this region. Although the changes are minor, scientists are still alarmed that climate change is to blame for this.

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GOCE Reveals Gravity Dip From Ice Loss (European Space Agency)
"Although not designed to map changes in Earth's gravity over time, ESA's extraordinary satellite has shown that the ice lost from West Antarctica over the last few years has left its signature."

Antarctic Ice Sheet (Science Daily)
"The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest single mass of ice on Earth. It covers an area of almost 14 million square km and contains 30 million cubic km of ice."

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