What would happen if the Earth stopped rotating?

The Earth has been spinning since its birth, four and a half billion years ago. It was formed from the debris created when the Sun was formed by the collapse of a large cloud of matter. The debris that made up the Earth revolves around the Sun, just like the water around the bathtub drain when you empty your bath, rotates itself.

Our planet continued to orbit the Sun after its formation and will continue to do so for a long time.

The Earth rotates constantly, once every 23 hours and 56 minutes. During this time, the Earth also moves slightly along its orbit around the Sun, which lasts a year. This means that it has to turn a little more – for four minutes – until it faces the Sun again. That’s why a day on Earth lasts 24 hours.

If the Earth keeps spinning, it’s because there’s almost nothing to stop it. If you spin at one end of the schoolyard, it will eventually stop. This is because as it spins, the air and the playing surface exert pressure, causing friction and slowing it down.

The Earth revolves in space, which is almost empty. In space, there is no wind to slow the Earth’s rotation.

However, there is one thing that slows down the rotation of the Earth: the Moon. The motion of the side of the Earth facing the Moon is not perfectly balanced by gravity, nor is the side of the Earth opposite the Moon. This imbalance creates ocean tides, which cause the oceans to rise everywhere on Earth.

The Moon affects the rotation of the Earth. | Yuki Ho via Unsplash

As the Earth rotates, these bulges move across the Earth’s surface like a wave, pushing against the Earth’s rotation. This slows down the rotation of the Earth. This means that the length of a day on Earth increases by one second every 50,000 years.

The only thing that can stop the Earth’s rotation is another planet crashing into it. Even if that happens, it will definitely change the Earth’s rotation, without stopping it completely.

A day that lasts six months

If the Earth stopped spinning, we wouldn’t suddenly be thrown into space. Gravity holds us firmly to the ground.

But there are many changes. If the Earth stopped rotating but continued to revolve around the Sun, the “day” would last half a year, just like the night. It can be warmer during the day and cooler at night. The Earth’s climate will deteriorate dramatically.

The large temperature difference between day and night causes strong winds, which move warm air to the cooler night side of the Earth. Wind also blows from the warm regions around the equator to the cold polar regions. East and west winds will meet, as will the winds towards the poles. Eventually they can create huge tornadoes the size of entire continents.

On the other hand, you should know that the Earth’s core is partly composed of molten iron. The rotational motion of the Earth turns this molten iron into a magnet and gives the Earth a magnetic field. It protects us against harmful radiation, which comes from particles from the Sun and cosmic rays from outside the solar system.

Without the magnetic field, this radiation would reach the Earth’s surface and make people sick. Some birds use the magnetic field to find their way, so if the Earth stops spinning, they will disappear.

Finally, if the Earth did not rotate, the night sky would always show the same constellations of stars, because we always look into space in the same direction.

If you also have questions, ask your parents to send an email to: [email protected].

We will find a scientist to answer you.

This article is reprinted from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *