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The shortest day! The Earth rotated in less than 24 hours, breaking records

The Earth recorded the shortest day since these measurements have been available

La Tierra logra récord al dar una vuelta en menos de 24 horas
El último día menor a 24 horas se registró el 26 de julio de 2020 | Shutterstock / Archivo

August 1, 2022 4:08pm

Updated: August 1, 2022 8:46pm

Scientists from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said on Friday that the Earth completed its rotation in less than 24 hours with 1.59 milliseconds less than its usual spin.

Experts explained that this could be related to climate change or the movement of the poles. However, it could also be caused by variations in core processes, oceans, tides, or even changes in the climate.

Since 2020, this phenomenon has been increasingly constant. Although the change is practically imperceptible for humans, it could generate inconveniences that could affect telecommunications systems, mainly those used by space researchers, experts warn.

Previously, the fastest day was recorded on July 19, 2020, when the Earth's rotation was completed in 1.47 milliseconds less than 24 hours. Yet, that same year, on July 26, another shortest day was recorded with 1.50 milliseconds less.

If the Earth continues to rotate at this rate, it could force the introduction of negative "leap seconds" to keep the rate at which the planet revolves around the sun in sync with the measurement of atomic clocks.

The negative "leap second" would also have potentially confusing consequences for smartphones and computers due to their clock advancing from 23:59:59 to 23:59:60 before resetting at 00:00:00:00. 

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the standard by which the world regulates clocks and time, has been updated with a "leap second" 27 times so far. However, a time jump that would lead clocks to change from 23:59:58 to 00:00:00:00 would have the potential to crash programs and damage data due to the timestamps in their storage, reported Excélsior.

On January 4, the Earth reached the minimum distance of 147 million kilometers from the Sun, enough so that, instead of moving at its average speed of 107,280 kilometers per hour, it accelerated to 110,700 kilometers per hour.

This phenomenon caused the boreal winter and austral summer to last 4.7 days less compared to the July 2021 seasons, according to National Geographic.