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Shortest day ever recorded after Earth experienced a 'wobble'

The shortest day in recorded history has been measured at 1.59 milliseconds short of 24 hours, perhaps due to the Chandler wobble.

@AdamHuntTT
Published Aug 2, 2022 4:01 AM CDT

The shortest day in recorded history has been confirmed to have occurred on June 29th, 2022.

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The speed of Earth's rotation, and thus its day length, has been measured by atomic clocks daily since the 1960s. On June 29th, Earth completed one full rotation in 1.59 milliseconds (ms) less than 24 hours, and continues a trend found in recent years. The previous shortest day was recorded on July 19th, 2020, at 1.47 ms fewer than 24 hours, and the one before that was on July 16th, 2019, and was shorter than 24 hours by 0.95 ms.

Earth's rotational speed has decreased over time, taking a handful of milliseconds longer to complete a rotation every century. However, fluctuations are still observed on a smaller time scale, with some days being shorter or longer than the standard 24 hours. Some scientists suggest the change in day length could be the result of various factors, including the 'Chandler wobble,' which refers to the small movement of Earth's North and South Poles.

"The normal amplitude of the Chandler wobble is about three to four meters at Earth's surface, but from 2017 to 2020 it disappeared," Dr. Leonid Zotov told timeanddate.

If Earth continues to record shorter days in upcoming years, it could require the first ever negative leap second, meaning a second will have to be subtracted from current clocks. However, Dr. Zotov believes "there's a 70 percent chance" Earth has hit a minimum for the shortest day, and a negative leap second won't be necessary.

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Adam grew up watching his dad play Turok 2 and Age of Empires on a PC in his computer room, and learned a love for video games through him. Adam was always working with computers, which helped build his natural affinity for working with them, leading to him building his own at 14, after taking apart and tinkering with other old computers and tech lying around. Adam has always been very interested in STEM subjects, and is always trying to learn more about the world and the way it works.

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