People have always been fascinated by what would happen to Earth and to us if something disastrous happened. And that’s probably the reason why Hollywood makes so many movies about the end of the world.
We also interested in the topic and we decided to find out what would happen if the Earth suddenly stopped (actually, it’s slowing down, by the way).
If The Earth Stopped Spinning
All Objects Would Fly East At High Speed Under Their Own Momentum
We do not notice the enormous speed with which the Earth rotates. But if it stopped, says NASA’s Sten Odenwald, everything on its surface would fly off the ground and fly eastward at high speed, falling back down.
At the equator, the speed would be the highest (about 1,600 km / h), while closer to the poles it would reach 800 km / h.
Enormous Tidal Waves Would Occur
The power of the momentum would cause the water of the seas and oceans to move to form extremely powerful tsunamis that would go east and clean the coastal cities from the face of the Earth.
A Powerful Wind Would Rise
The atmosphere would continue to move and its momentum would spin it around the planet, probably several times.
The initial airflow velocity would be huge – over 1,100 mph. It’s possible that Earth would lose part of its atmosphere in the action.
All Water On Earth Would Collect In 2 Oceans, And A New Continent Would Form
Water accumulates at the equator now due to centrifugal force. A sudden stop in the Earth’s rotation would cause the masses of land and water to redistribute to form 2 large oceans at both poles.
The land at the equator would rise and form a gigantic new continent that would cover the entire planet across the equator.
Volcano Eruptions, Hurricanes, And Earthquakes Would Begin
The enormous kinetic force and momentum of the Earth would shake the planet to its core. The result is quite predictable: all-powerful hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, and destructive earthquakes. Everywhere.
Earth Would Transform From A Geoid Into A Sphere
The geoid shape of the Earth is due to its rotating motion. It is a bit flat at the poles and a bit salient at the equator (see a lecture by Prof. Etienne Ghys from ENS de Lyon). If the planet stops, its shape will become more spherical.
One Hemisphere Would Become Hot As A Desert While The Other Would Be Cold As The Antarctic
If the Earth continued to make just one turn around the sun, only half would heat up, making it extremely hot and always illuminated with the highest temperatures at the equator.
The second hemisphere would become a kingdom of eternal night and arctic cold.
NASA has another version: the Earth would stop spinning altogether and there would be a day of 6 months followed by a night of the same length.
The Magnetic Field Protecting Earth From Dangerous Cosmic Radiation Would Disappear
The magnetic field is formed basically due to the processes of the outer core (made mainly of iron) and the rotating motion of the planet.
If it stopped, the magnetic field would also disappear, predicts Sten Odenwald. The field protects us from the solar wind: the charged particles from the sun that would destroy all living things.
In fact, the Earth is slowing down. In its youth, it spun much faster: a day only lasted 6 hours. The Moon’s gravity causes ebbs and tides that gradually slow down the Earth’s motion.
NASA has calculated that the length of the day increases by 2.3 ms every 100 years. After billions of years, the days will become several times longer, and then our planet, perhaps, stop completely.
Preview photo credit imgur