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Earth's core has almost stopped spinning and may start spinning the other way, scientists say.

Published: 2023-01-24

A group of Chinese scientists from Peking University's SinoProbe Lab at the School of Earth and Space Sciences have reported "surprising observations" that the Earth's core has stopped spinning and can reverse it. If this is confirmed, many unexplained phenomena in the behavior of the planet from changes in the length of the day to fluctuations in climate and ocean levels can be easily explained.

For the first time, more or less convincing data on the variable speed of rotation of the Earth's inner core were obtained in the 90s of the last century. Not all scientists agree with them, but this theory has many supporters. In particular, when studying the propagation of seismic waves through the core region, time-varying time shifts in the received data were found. This could be caused both by anomalies at the interface between the inner and outer cores and by the phenomenon of rotation of the inner "iron" core in the outer "liquid" core.

Researchers are inclined to believe that the inner core of an alloy of iron and nickel rotates under the combined influence of magnetic and gravitational forces. This is facilitated by the heterogeneity of the inner core and mantle layer. In other words, there are points of application of forces from both gravity and the magnetic field. And if these two forces do not balance each other, the core of the Earth will either accelerate or slow down.

To search for new evidence for this theory, scientists analyzed seismic data from the 60s of the last century and even more firmly established themselves in the theory of variable rotation of the Earth's inner core.

According to new data, the rotation period of the inner core is from 60 to 70 years. The rate of rotation of the Earth's core today is the same as in the 70s of the last century. Moreover, now the core of the Earth has practically stopped and can begin to rotate in the opposite direction. The rotation minimum was determined from data from 2009. If this theory finds more evidence, then with its help it will be possible to explain both the change in the speed of the Earth's rotation and global climate change.

Based on the data obtained, scientists do not undertake to connect the speed and direction of the Earth's inner core with the observed geoclimatic phenomena, but intend to create working models to search for such connections.