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Scientists Believe The Earth's Inner Core Rotation Is Slowing To Spin In Reverse

Jasmyne Jeffery January 24, 2023

Scientists believe that the earth’s inner core rotation is slowing to a halt. Made of iron and suspended in molten lava, geophysicists, the core in planning to start spinning in reverse. What’s even more baffling, is that it’s not the first time it’s happened either. So what will happen if the Earth’s core stops?

At some point, we’ve all had a bit of a crisis thinking about the Earth’s core. If you stop and think about how it holds all of our existence in its hands; controlling life as we know it, it’s a little troubling. It’s the same as when you realise just how quickly the Earth is spinning, or travelling through space. So, when something is a fact of life, it’s best to ignore it for the most part so you’re constantly hyperaware. That is, of course, until it changes. And that’s what some geophysicists believe is happening with the Earth’s core.

The Earth’s Inner Core Rotation Is Changing

Two scientists from the University of Beijing have recently published a paper explaining how the core has been slowly stopping over the last decade. The paper, ‘Multidecadal variation of the Earth’s inner-core rotation‘, was published yesterday, and is an update on a similar study released in 1996.

Yi Yang & Xiaodong Song, the scientists who authored the paper, look at seismic incidences and connect them to the Earth’s inner core rotation. What they conclude, is that it is not only slowing, but the Earth’s core will begin spinning in reverse.

“Here we analyse repeated seismic waves from the early 1990s and show that all of the paths that previously showed significant temporal changes have exhibited little change over the past decade. This globally consistent pattern suggests that inner-core rotation has recently paused.”

The idea of the core stopping is quite a baffling one. What’s even more mind-blowing is that the scientists go on to explain it will begin spinning in reverse. According to their data, seismic records show the inner core is gradually turning back on itself. However, this isn’t the first time it’s done this. In fact, it actually does it quite often.

“We compared this recent pattern to the Alaskan seismic records of South Sandwich Islands doublets going back to 1964 and it seems to be associated with a gradual turning-back of the inner core as a part of an approximately seven-decade oscillation, with another turning point in the early 1970s.”

Now, the core is preparing to do it all over again. Though it sounds like a huge event, it actually happens due to small imbalances in the electromagnetic and gravitational forces. Earth’s core slowing may be a little dramatic, as well as completely changing its direction, but it’s still quite cool to think about.

What Happens If The Earth’s Core Stops?

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

Luckily, there will be no dramatic effects felt by anyone on the surface when it stops. This is the same for when the Earth’s core begins spinning in reverse.

If you watched The Core a lot as a kid, then up until this point you were probably freaking out a little. Sorry about that. No matter how much Aaron Eckhart or Hilary Swank tries to convince us, actual scientists have said that the opposite would happen.

Now, it’s completely different if the Earth itself stopped spinning. That would have some pretty dramatic effects. But, there’s no point worrying about that when it’s the inner core that we’re concerned about currently.

Although Yang and Song write about the “dynamic connection” between the Earth’s surface and its inner core, the fact that they propose the rotation switches every 70 years proves that our daily lives will be unaffected. Though climate changes have been observed, nothing immediately obvious will occur.

So, it’s time to stop panic-texting loved ones, booking a flight to space or binging Armageddon. Listen to the scientists (and not the movie ones) and we’ll all be alright.

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time writer on Freshered after working freelance with GRV Media previously. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger. In 2022, she graduated with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Jasmyne worked briefly for her local newspaper before heading to university and completing an internship at a publishing company. She is now pursuing and loving a career in journalism. Jasmyne has a particular interest in student news, entertainment, and social media, whilst also (trying!) to help put the world to right. Originally from North Devon, she is currently loving the small-city life in Cardiff.