The Earth's Axis Is Tilting Thanks to Climate Change, NASA Scientists Say

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The very Earth is trembling under humanity's feet — or more accurately, smokestacks.

Scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory have determined climate change is actually causing the tilt of the Earth's axis to change, the Associated Press reported Friday.

Using satellite data, the scientists found as global climate change causes ice sheets across the planet to melt, releasing their water weight, the Earth's polar motion has stopped wobbling toward Canada and is now wobbling toward England.

Source: YouTube

JPL scientist and study lead Surendra Adhikari told the news agency the difference was "very dramatic," though functionally harmless. The data primarily serves to show the scale of human impact on the environment.

Greenland has lost an average of more than 272 trillion kilograms of ice annually since 2003, along with West Antarctica losing 124 trillion kilograms and East Antarctica gaining 74 trillion kilograms of ice each year, NASA scientist and study co-author Erik Ivins told the AP.

"It is due to climate change without a doubt," Adhikari told Climate Central. "It's related to ice sheets, in particular the Greenland ice sheet."

A 2013 study first credited the change in the Earth's wobble, which began in 2000, to the loss of ice in the Greenland ice sheet, according to Scientific American. "If you're losing enough mass to change the orientation of the Earth — that's a lot of mass," John Ries, a University of Texas at Austin senior research scientist who worked on that research, told the magazine.

The overwhelming scholarly consensus is that rising average global temperatures are the result of mass human industrial activity, with emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide to blame. 2015 was the hottest year ever recorded by scientists, according to NASA, beating the record set in just 2014.

"As I've noted elsewhere, the likelihood that two consecutive record-breakers would have happened by chance — in the absence of global warming — is less than 1 in 1,000," Pennsylvania State University climatologist Michael E. Mann told Mic in January. "Despite the continued false claims by climate change contrarians to the contrary, the globe continues to warm at the rate that the models predict it should be warming given our ongoing burning of fossil fuels."

Read more: 7 Global Warming Facts That Even Critics Can't Ignore

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Tom McKay

Tom is a staff writer at Mic, covering national politics, media, policing and the war on drugs. He is based in New York and can be reached at tmckay@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Can't download iOS 11 public beta? Having trouble installing it? Here's a quick fix.

Want to download iOS 11 public beta but can't figure it out? Here are some tips and tricks for troubleshooting.

The Hubble Telescope just took pictures of a galaxy twice as massive as the Milky Way

This discovery shatters what scientists had previously believed.

The world needs this smart laser that kills every mosquito in sight

It could help save millions of lives.

iOS 11 Beta: Every new feature that’ll change how you use your phone, all in one video

Your iPhone will never be the same.

Anonymous claims NASA has found intelligent alien life. Here's the truth.

Never blindly trust a robotic voice behind a mask.

Can't download iOS 11 public beta? Having trouble installing it? Here's a quick fix.

Want to download iOS 11 public beta but can't figure it out? Here are some tips and tricks for troubleshooting.

The Hubble Telescope just took pictures of a galaxy twice as massive as the Milky Way

This discovery shatters what scientists had previously believed.

The world needs this smart laser that kills every mosquito in sight

It could help save millions of lives.

iOS 11 Beta: Every new feature that’ll change how you use your phone, all in one video

Your iPhone will never be the same.

Anonymous claims NASA has found intelligent alien life. Here's the truth.

Never blindly trust a robotic voice behind a mask.