This matter falls outside the domain of this service or is not acceptable for other reasons. For an explanation: http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/aasinfo.htm http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/hints.htm NEWTON, Ask a Scientist at Argonne National Labs
 
Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Rotation Rate and Thermal Balance

Name: Renate
Status: educator
Grade: 6-8
Location: GA
Country: USA
Date: Fall 2011


Question:
If Earth's rotation were to increase, would that have an affect on the general temperature of Earth? Would Earth get cooler since it would not have as much time to heat up the surface before it cools down again at night?

Replies:
Dear Renate,

I am sorry to say you seem to have a critical error in your thinking.

Although the earth spinning faster would mean that any part of the surface spends less time in the sun each day, it would also spend less time in darkness before coming back into sunlight the next morning. In other words, no matter what the speed of rotation, (and disregarding the effects of polar tilt) half the time is spend in sunlight, and half in dark.

There may be other effects, such as an increase in general wind speeds, and some loss of atmosphere from centrifugal forces.

Nigel Skelton


An interesting and complex question!

According to work by several scientists, the earth spun faster and had shorter days, when it was younger and has slowed down over the last 400 million years or so. During that time, Earth's temperature changed often and over a wide range. That tells us that, whatever the speed of Earth's rotation does to temperature, other things are far more important or powerful.

As a guess, I would say there would be no change. Shorter days also mean shorter nights. Since the Earth loses a lot of heat at night, I would think the less solar energy absorbed during the day would be balanced by less energy being lost at night.

Sorry I cannot give you a more firm answer. Earth's temperature is controlled by many factors that it is hard to measure just the effect of the rotation.

R. W. Avakian


Click here to return to the Physics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory