Is the Earth Spinning Faster?

Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory in England recorded the shortest day ever on June 29 and another shortened day on July 26, Popular Mechanics reported.

On both of these days, the Earth completed its usual 24-hour rotation in less than 24 hours, The Guardian reported

June 29 was 1.59 milliseconds shorter than usual — the shortest day since the 1960s when scientists began using atomic clocks to measure time, Forbes reported.

July 26 neared the newly-set record, at 1.50 milliseconds shorter than usual, according to

The shortened days are caused by the Earth spinning faster than usual, Interesting Engineering reported.

But why is the Earth spinning faster? Scientists are not completely certain, but they have a few competing explanations:

• Changes to the climate or climate systems, such as melting and freezing of glaciers or winds, whose shifting weight pulls on the Earth, The New York Post reported.

• Earthquakes and other seismic activity which move mass toward the center of the Earth, like a spinning person pulling their arms in, The Guardian reported.

• Movement within the Earth’s molten core that shifts mass on the planet, Forbes reported.

Ocean circulation and pressure on the seabed that pulls on the Earth’s axis, ABC reported.

• The “Chandler Wobble” — a natural shifting of the Earth’s axis due to the planet not being perfectly spherical — could be linked to the spinning speeds, reported.

Some scientists think this could be the beginning of a new period of shorter days, Interesting Engineering reported.