On June 29, the Earth suddenly revolved around its axis 1.59 ms faster than 24 hours, the fastest it has revolved since atomic clocks began tracking such data with great accuracy in the 1960s.
The Earth's rotation has been gradually accelerating in recent years, but no one knows why this is happening. Since 2020, the planet has already broken rotation speed records a couple of dozen times, with nothing like this happening for decades before that.
The Earth is not a perfect ball, so its rotation is constantly fluctuating, subject to a host of factors, including its internal structure, the tidal influence of the moon, and climate change. One team of scientists has suggested that the acceleration of rotation may be related to fluctuations in the Earth's geographic poles. This phenomenon was discovered in the 19th century by the American astronomer Seth Carlo Chandler, and is called the "Chandler wobble of the poles".
According to Matt King, a professor at the University of Tasmania and an expert on observing planetary behaviour, this is a strange phenomenon indeed. Clearly something has changed, and changed in a way that has not manifested itself since the advent of precision radio astronomy in the 1970s.
If the days keep getting shorter, scientists will have to subtract a second from the atomic clock. This would be the first case of negative hand correction in history. Since 1972, the scientific world has adopted the practice of adding an extra second to UTC to make it coincide with UT1 mean solar time. So far, we have only had to add these seconds, not subtract them.
Previously, scientists calculated that the day on Earth should become one minute longer in 6.7 million years because of changes in the Earth's interaction with the Moon.