The Arctic, (TFC)— Many omens of massive climate changes go often overlooked, in mainstream media and day to day conversation. As any researcher will explain, however, it’s not as simple as global warming or cooling, flooding, drought, and the like. It’s a titanic phenomenon morphing the planets very nature, and it recently took a concerning turn. Although the north pole naturally drifts, it’s path has not only changed, but it’s rate of change accelerated. These developments not only alarm researchers, but add yet another layer of mystery and urgency to the climate crisis.
The north pole can naturally drift by as much as 10 meters over a century, Scientific American reports, that’s not surprising. Geographical poles wobble over time due to small gravitational variations in the sun and moon, in addition to Earth’s natural movement. What is surprising, even shocking, is its recent sharp turn east in an unprecedented zig-zag pattern.
Although first noticed in 2000, it took another 13 years for a researcher to attribute the rouge pole changes to climate changes. Geophysicist Jianli Chen, of the University of Texas, theorized in 2013 that the melting of Greenland’s ice sheet could literally be tipping the earth. “If you’re losing enough mass to change the orientation of the earth”, says Chen’s colleague at UT John Ries, “that’s a lot of mass.” The team’s findings, according to Scientific American, find that rising ocean levels account for 90% of the latest pole shift.
Other’s investigating the phenomenon aren’t so sure, suggesting another mechanism to the pole morph. According to a study published in Science Advances, the pole shift could be due to changes in the amount of water held by each continent. The study, conducted by NASA jet propulsion lab geophysicists Surendra Adhikari and Erik Ivins, unlike Chen’s research, is backed by a couple years of data. NASA’s study, according to Scientific American, also used smaller scale models for more accurate data. Droughts and dry spells in various parts of the planet may contribute to these changes in continental water.
What’s for absolute certain is, as of yet, scientists can not account for these recent changes in pole drift. A drifting pole will ultimately affect what weather occurs where on the planet, how long this may take is anyone’s guess. The shocking revelation should speak to the scale of the task before humanity when dealing with climate change. It’s encouraging to see the World Bank allocate $25 billion to adaptable technologies, but so much more is needed. We’re already seeing species die outs, environmental devastation, drought, flooding, and other previously unexperienced phenomenon. A drifting pole will not only accelerate these evolutions, but likely increase their severity in specific places and then, ultimately, everywhere.