Skip to comments.Earth's core rotating faster than rest of the planet but slower than previously believed
Posted on 02/21/2011 4:47:12 PM PST by decimon
New research gives the first accurate estimate of how much faster the Earth's core is rotating compared to the rest of the planet.
Previous research had shown that the Earth's core rotates faster than the rest of the planet. However, scientists from the University of Cambridge have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed approximately 1 degree every million years. Their findings are published today, Sunday 20 February, in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The inner core grows very slowly over time as material from the fluid outer core solidifies onto its surface. During this process, an east-west hemispherical difference in velocity is frozen into the structure of the inner core.
"The faster rotation rates are incompatible with the observed hemispheres in the inner core because it would not allow enough time for the differences to freeze into the structure," said Lauren Waszek, first author on the paper and a PhD student from the University of Cambridge's Department of Earth Sciences. "This has previously been a major problem, as the two properties cannot coexist. However, we derived the rotation rates from the evolution of the hemispherical structure, and thus our study is the first in which the hemispheres and rotation are inherently compatible."
For the research, the scientists used seismic body waves which pass through the inner core - 5200km beneath the surface of the Earth - and compared their travel time to waves which reflect from the inner core surface. The difference between the travel times of these waves provided them with the velocity structure of the uppermost 90 km of the inner core.
They then had to reconcile this information with the differences in velocity for the east and west hemispheres of the inner core. First, they observed the east and west hemispherical differences in velocity. They then constrained the two boundaries which separate the hemispheres and found that they both shifted consistently eastward with depth. Because the inner core grows over time the deeper structure is therefore older, and the shift in the boundaries between the two hemispheres results in the inner core rotating with time. The rotation rate is therefore calculated from the shift of the boundaries and the growth rate of the inner core.
Although the inner core is 5200km beneath our feet, the effect of its presence is especially important on the Earth's surface. In particular, as the inner core grows, the heat released during solidification drives convection in the fluid in the outer core. This convection generates the Earth's geomagnetic field. Without our magnetic field, the surface would not be protected from solar radiation, and life on Earth would not be able to exist.
"This result is the first observation of such a slow inner core rotation rate," said Waszek "It therefore provides a confirmed value which can now be used in simulations to model the convection of the Earth's fluid outer core, giving us additional insight into the evolution of our magnetic field."
For more information, contact: Lauren Waszek Mobile: +44 (0) 7766881777 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Arwen Deuss Mobile: +44 (0)7913416063 Email: email@example.com
Dr Jessica Irving Jcei2@cam.ac.uk
Notes to editors: The paper 'Reconciling the hemispherical structure of Earth's inner core with its super-rotation' is scheduled for advanced online publication in Nature Geoscience on Sunday 20 February.
As the world turns ping.
“,,,scientists from the University of Cambridge have discovered that earlier estimates of 1 degree every year were inaccurate and that the core is actually moving much slower than previously believed approximately 1 degree every million years. “
LOL...how can scientists be so totally WRONG about so many “facts” that “everyone” accepts for years? Wonder how many taxpayer grants were wasted publishing dire warnings about the spinning core of the earth.
This explains my acid reflux...
It’s obviously Bush’s fault. When he was President it sped up. Now that Obama is President, it’s slowed back down.
Arizona was -13 degrees give or take 20 years ago, where is it now
They can’t even get a simple global measurement like this right, but they know what global climate is doing, even though there are an infinite number of variables.
Isn't "freeze" kind of the wrong word here? Aren't the temperatures extremely high? What's wrong with "solidify"?
I'm in a mood to pick nits tonight... watch out! :)
” an east-west hemispherical difference in velocity is frozen into the structure of the inner core.”
Read it three times and still don’t comprehend how two halves of a sphere can move at different velocities. Guess I’m not as smart as I used to be.
They are not to be confused with such terms as frozen, melted, solid, liquid, gaseous, plasma or douflopped
Left to my own devices, I rather doubt that my comment on this would be as temperate.
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douflopped? Is that anything like doo-wap?
Kinda, sorta ~ yeah, something!
Did you realize that when it comes to the relative rates of rotation of the inner and the outer core there’s not a doggoned thing any of us can do about it.
Makes me feel so helpless ~ utterly and totally helpless.
Only in Cleveland. Everywhere else they get regular jobs now.
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