Do you ever think what would happen if the earth stop spinning? The consequences would be cataclysmic? Well, not necessarily. It all depends on the speed with which the planet came to a stop.
A sudden and abrupt halt?
But if the world slow on its axis gradually and came safely to a standstill, then life on Earth might just survive.
But the rotation of the Earth is already slowing down.
So, what’s going to happen? Lets try to understand….
What is the Earth’s Rotation?
The rotation of Planet Earth around its own axis.
The Earth rotates at around 1,600 km/h (1,000 mph).
Speed of the Earth Spin
This figure is base on the fact that our planet’s circumference is approx. 40,075 km (24,901 mi).
The surface of the Earth at the equator moves at a speed of 460 meters per second or approx. 1,000 mph.
How Long Earth Spin?
Earth rotates once in about 24 hours.
In fact, once every 23 hours, 56 minutes, and 4.09053 seconds, to be precise.
Spinning in time of Earth
You can’t feel the Earth spinning.
That’s because you and everything else including the planet’s oceans and atmosphere are spinning with the Earth at the same constant speed.
Why Earth Rotate?
The Earth has rotated since it form 4.6 billion years ago.
It was created out of a disk of gas and dust that swirled around the newborn Sun.
In this spinning disk, particles of dust and clumps of rock stuck together to form the Earth.
As it expands, debris rotating around the Sun continued colliding with the nascent planet, exerting phenomenal forces that sent it spinning.
Earth Spins Counterclockwise
The Earth’s rotation direction is prograde, or west to east.
As view from the north pole star Polaris, Earth turns counterclockwise.
Importance of Rotation?
If the Earth suddenly stopped rotating, the effects would be catastrophic.
We’d feel it in an instant, a sensation akin to riding along in a fast car without wearing a seat belt and having someone slam on the brakes we’d all hurtle forward as the vehicle crashed to a halt.
Up in Air
Using that same analogy, we and everything else not deeply rooted to the planet would be thrown sideways.
In fact, all of the land masses would be scoure clean of anything not attach to bedrock.
Waves of Destruction
Oceans would maintain momentum and a mega tsunami would spread water inland up to 30 km (18.5 mi) within a minute.
Winds of frightening velocity would sweep around the Earth, whipping up a cataclysmic storm.
Rocks, topsoil, vegetation, buildings, infrastructure, people everything would be swept away into the atmosphere.
Global destruction would be instant, and terminal.
But what if the Earth stop spinning over a period of time, and safely came to a standstill?
If the process happen gradually over billions of years, the situation would be very different.
Day in the Year
If Earth stop rotating around its axis, but continue to orbit the sun, the length of the year would remain the same, but the length of the day would be prolong to last one year.
This is because it would take the Sun 365 days to move through the sky and return to the same position.
A standstill Earth would see the Sun rising in the West and setting in the East.
Dark and Cold
We would be in darkness for nearly half a year, with a few weeks of twilight either side, experiencing bitterly cold temperatures throughout.
The Sun would eventually reappear, and stay in the sky for six months.
During this period the surface temperature would depend on latitude, the equator, for example, would be far hotter than it is now, with scorching temperatures baking the ground so as to feel like solid concrete.
Earth Changes Shape
Perhaps the greatest effect of losing our rotation would be that the Earth would change shape.
Battle of the Bulge
Centrifugal forces create as the planet spins literally make the equator bulge.
In fact, the Earth is 67 km (41.5 mi) further around the equator than it is from pole to pole.
Pole to Pole
Bereft of these centrifugal forces, the Earth’s bulge would recede.
This would lead to the oceans effectively migrating to the poles.
Flooding on a Colossal Scale
This colossal amount of water would first flood areas of Russia and northern Canada before eventually submerging much of Europe and vast swathes of southern South America.
New Big Continent
As the seas retreat from around the equator, a new gigantic landmass would be reveal, a vast equatorial mega continent spanning the entire planet’s midsection.
The world’s oceanic waters would be cleave into two isolate seas congregating at the poles.
The planetary landscape now consists of one ocean nearly 17km (10 mi) deep in the north, one in the south, and a girdle of land around the equator.
Most of this new continent would be uninhabitable due to thin air.
And, due to sufficient air pressure, the former ocean floor could possibly sustain life. Possibly.
Earth coming to a Standstill?
Believe it or not, the rotation of the Earth is slowing down right now.
Earth and Moon
Earth’s rotation is slowing with time.
This is due to the tidal effects the Moon has on the planet’s rotation.
But as the planet slows, the days gets longer.
A century ago the day was shorter, but not by much.
Today, due to the tidal forces between the Earth and the Moon, the modern-day is longer by about 1.7 milliseconds.
25 hrs in the Day?
Scientists estimate that 140 million years from now the day will be 25 hours long.
400 Days in the Year
To put that estimate into perspective, if you go back in time to the Devonian period 400 million years ago, a period mark by the beginning of extensive land colonization by plants, the days were so short that there were roughly 400 days in the year.
Fortunately for life on Earth, the Sun will have died out long before the planet runs out of spin.