Science and Tech

What does it mean that the Earth’s core could have slowed down? How does it impact our life?

( Spanish) — The Earth’s core is one of the most mysterious components of the planet and one that many scientists have studied for years to find out how it affects the daily life of the millions of people who inhabit the planet. And a new study suggests it may have stopped and may even be going the other way. But how does this affect our daily life? We tried to find some answers.

First, a bit of context.

The study published this week in the journal nature geoscience found that the Earth’s core has stopped and may now rotate away from the surface.

The Earth’s core has a radius of about 3,500 km. and is about the size of Mars. It is made mostly of steel and nickel, and contains about a third of the Earth’s mass.

And, based on the research, the inner core is thought to be dynamically linked with its outer layers, predominantly through magnetic energy coupling with the outer core and gravitational coupling with the mantle, wrote According to Yi Yang and Xiaodong Song, authors of the Peking University study.

“Variation of the inner core’s rotation—including its gradual reversal in recent years and a possible seven-decade oscillation—is likely to have a direct influence on Earth’s magnetic field and rotation, and possibly on some processes of the surface,” Dr. Xiaodong Song told en Español in an email.

Now, the force of the inner spin is driven by the magnetic field generated in the outer core and balanced by the gravitational effects of the mantle. Knowing how the inner core rotates could shed light on how these layers and other processes interact deep within the Earth, Song said.

“From the movement of the inner core over the past few decades, we infer that it is likely to be in an oscillation with a period of about seven decades,” Song added. “It implies that the Earth is an integrated system and that there are dynamic links between the layers of the Earth.”

Song, one of the study’s authors, told en Español that in 1996 he reported the first observational evidence of inner core rotation in collaboration with Paul Richards at Columbia University. That investigation was made from the temporal changes of the seismic waves that pass through the inner core.

That initial investigation led to many more being deployed to determine the workings of Earth’s inner core, ultimately leading to this new study.

For years, researchers studied seismic waves from earthquakes that have traversed Earth’s inner core following similar trajectories since the 1960s to figure out how fast the inner core is spinning.

The Earth’s core is unbalanced 1:26

How might this affect daily life on Earth?

Now yes, an answer to the million dollar question.

The good news is that it’s much simpler than understanding how the Earth’s inner core works.

“We don’t expect something catastrophic to happen,” the study’s author said from Beijing. “It has little effect on our daily lives.”

Song added that the change in the rotation of the Earth’s inner core has no direct impact on winter storms or current catastrophic events of climate change, “but it may have effects on the geomagnetic field, day length and climate beyond long term (decades and more)”.

But he clarified: “We don’t think there is any direct impact on our daily lives.”

The author says the study serves to help better understand “how the Earth’s interior works, how the different layers of the system interact as a whole, and how the Earth system (including climate) periodically evolves,” he says.

And this was agreed by Hrvoje Tkalcic, a geologist at the Australian National University, who was not involved in the study, but who has long studied the Earth’s inner core.

“The inner core doesn’t stop completely,” Tkalcic told .

What this means is that “the inner core is now more in sync with the rest of the planet than it was a decade ago, when it was spinning a little faster,” added Tkalcic, who wrote the book “The Earth’s Inner Core: Revealed by Observational Seismology.” .

“There is nothing catastrophic happening,” Tkalcic agreed.

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