October 24, 2021

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Climate change has altered the Earth’s tilt

2 min read

Earth’s poles are moving — and that’s normal. But new research suggests that within just decades, climate change and human water use have given the poles’ wandering an additional nudge.

Any object’s spin is affected by how its weight is distributed. Earth’s weight distribution is always changing, it turns out, as the planet’s molten innards roil and its surface morphs. Water is a key influencer, since it’s so heavy. In the past two decades, two supersensitive NASA satellite missions — the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) and its successor — have analyzed this shifting weight, but those observations began only in 2002.

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