Categories: Sci/Tech

Here’s What Will Happen If Earth Would Stop Spinning

It's not going to be pretty.

We’ve been taught a lot about Earth’s rotation in school — that basically, our planet rotates on its axis once each day, which is approximately 24 hours. But have you ever wondered what exactly would happen if the world stopped turning?

The Earth’s rotation is actually slowing down with time. Although it would take billions and billions of years before the Earth would stop turning and have a day that’s as long as a year, we can’t help but wonder what happens by then. With improved knowledge about Earth, scientists are able to give us some answers.

#1. The Earth will stand still but everything else will move at the same speed as the Earth was turning before.

We may not notice the speed at which our planet is spinning, but if it stopped, everything will be thrown eastward and then eventually falling down, Sten Odenwald from NASA said. The speed is at its greatest in the equator at 1,670 kilometers per hour.

It’s comparable to what happens when you’re in a car running at high speeds and suddenly stepping on the brakes. The good news is you might survive, but everything else that will happen will kill you.

#2. Powerful tsunamis will form and there will be faster winds as well.

Since everything on Earth will continue to move even if its already still, you can expect that the atmosphere and even the oceans will also move. The winds will be four times stronger and faster than the fastest wind speed record at 408 kph. Also, there’ll be a huge and powerful tsunami wave that will form.

#3. Mega quakes, giant continent, volcanic eruptions and two separate oceans.

The damage is stronger in areas along the equator, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be safe in both poles in the long run. The powerful momentum and the kinetic force would shake the Earth to its core resulting in massive quakes and volcanic eruptions.

With rotation, the centrifugal force results in the bulge along the equator. Without rotation, there is no bulge, and consequently, the landmasses and waters will redistribute. As a result, waters will rush to both poles forming two great oceans and a large land mass circling around the equator.

As explained by Witold Fraczek based on the mapping of the Earth, the north ocean will mostly have Russia and Europe underwater. Greenland, Canada, Seattle, Chicago, and Boston will all be submerged. New York will still be located near the ocean but in a different direction.

Here’s what it would look like with two great oceans on both poles.

Source: Witold Fraczek/Esri

Down in the Southern hemisphere, the ocean will cover most of Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand. The whole Antarctic continent will be submerged as well.

#4. Hot and Cold regions

Because the Earth stopped spinning, one side of the planet will face the Sun, while the other will not. As a result, regions away from the Sun will be experiencing mostly freezing temperatures, while the areas facing the Sun, will obviously experience hotter temperatures – much hotter that is, especially those along the equator. This will spell trouble for all living creatures that have adapted to a particular climate in a certain region. Consequently, humans will be affected as well.

#5. The protective magnetic field eventually wears off.

As Odenwald wrote:

“If the Earth stopped rotating, it’s magnetic field would no longer be regenerated and it would decay away to some low, residual value due to the very small component which is ‘fossilized’ in its iron-rich rocks. There would be no more ‘northern lights’ and the Van Allen radiation belts would probably vanish, as would our protection from cosmic rays and other high-energy particles. This is a significant biohazard.”

#6. The moon will crash to the Earth.

Stanford University Professor Vaughan Pratt said that if the Earth stopped, the Moon would gradually slow down as well. The Moon will get closer and closer to Earth, and eventually, it’ll just fall onto the planet.

Based on the list, a still Earth is not a pretty thing – it’s destruction. It’s a fact that the Earth is slowing down. The Moon’s gravity results in changes in ebb and tides that wi ll consequently slow the speed of the Earth’s rotation. But it would take billions of years before the aforementioned things will happen and most of us won’t live that long to see the devastation.

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