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Humans have extracted so much underground water that the Earth’s axis has shifted

As the earth rotates on its axis, it oscillates like an unbalanced pendulum. The fall of molten iron in the Earth’s core, melting ice, ocean currents, and even hurricanes can all cause the Earth’s poles to deviate. Scientists now know that human pumping of groundwater for drinking and irrigation has also played a significant role in the drift of the planet’s poles.

According to Science, Surendra Adhikari, a geophysicist from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and an expert in the field of Earth’s rotation, who was not involved in the recent study, says: The way the Earth oscillates is affected by our activities. “This finding is somewhat puzzling.”

Imagine you are rolling a basketball on your finger. If you can keep the ball balanced, it will roll evenly along its axis; But if you add a bit of weight to one part of the ball or take it off another part, the ball quickly becomes unbalanced, swings, and changes its axis of rotation. The Earth’s axis also oscillates and its North Pole draws a circle approximately 10 meters wide every year. The center of this fluctuation also changes in the long term; In such a way that in the recent era, every year, almost 9 cm has been tilted in the direction of Iceland.

Clark Wilson, geophysicist from the University of Texas at Austin and colleagues thought that the removal of tens of gigatons of groundwater each year may have affected the planet’s oscillation; But they knew that extracting water from the earth cannot be the only factor.


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