Srinagar, Jan 09: If 2020 felt like a drag, you may be surprised to discover it actually went faster than you thought—and this year is set to be even speedier.
The Earth has been spinning unusually quickly lately, and July 19 saw the shortest day since records began, with the planet completing its rotation in 1.4602 milliseconds less than the usual 86,400 seconds.
The previous shortest day in 2005 was beaten 28 times last year, and 2021 is on track to be the most nippy year ever, with the average day passing 0.5 milliseconds faster than usual.
A negative leap second may soon be needed so atomic clocks can align correctly with the turning world. It would be the first time that a second has been removed from global clocks.
Peter Whibberley, senior research scientist with National Physical Laboratory’s time and frequency group, said: “It is certainly correct that the Earth is spinning faster now than at any time in the last 50 years.”
“It’s quite possible that a negative leap second will be needed if the Earth’s rotation rate increases further, but it’s too early to say if this is likely to happen.”