A new NASA study says the North Pole is now slowly shifting in the direction of London.
NASA scientists concluded that global warming is changing the way the earth wobbles on its rotational axis, causing a ‘massive swing’ in the North Pole’s direction of travel.
For most of the 20th century the Pole migrated in the direction of Canada.
For reasons as yet unclear, they found that the planet’s North Pole changed the direction of its travel in 2000, turning eastwards towards the Greenwich meridian.
It is also now drifting almost twice as fast as before, at a rate of almost 7 inches (17 centimeters) a year.
Some evidence suggested that the shrinking of ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica caused by climate change was behind the surprise shift.
The new NASA study says this change is also influenced by the changing distribution of water on land.
In a paper published today in Science Advances, Surendra Adhikari, at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, said:
This is the first time we have solid evidence that changes in land water distribution on a global scale also shift which direction the [earth’s rotational] axis moves to.
The recent shift from the 20th-century direction is very dramatic.
The movement of water around the globe due to climate change and human activity is a contributing factor to the way the earth wobbles.
Scientists say this demonstrates how human activity influences on our planet.
Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences at the University of Arizona, said:
This highlights how real and profoundly large an impact humans are having on the planet.
Jianli Chen, research scientist at the University of Texas’ Centre for Space Research, says that although startling, this is a harmless side effect of climate change.
There is nothing to worry about, it is just another interesting effect of climate change.
So, should we gear up for a new life on ice?
Well, no. Not anytime soon, what with the speed of drift estimated at 7 inches per year.
But just in case, here is how London’s tube stop names may have to adapt to a new icy climate.
(No Longer Drifting Towards) Canada Water
Clapham North Pole
Narwal & Castle
I Maida Snowman Vale
Journal source reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501693