A new NASA study has revealed that the effects of climate change are so severe that they're literally effecting the Earth’s orbit, The Guardian reported. According to the study, published in the scientific journal Science Advances, melting ice sheets are shifting the distribution of weight on the planet so drastically that they are changing the way the Earth spins on its polar axis. The particular culprits are the sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, which contain 99% of the fresh water on Earth, according to The National Snow and Ice Data Center.
The study analyzed satellite and land measurement data from 2003 to 2015 and applied it to how and why the Earth moves the way it does. While it's normal for the axis to move around a little bit, the recent shift has been more than expected. According to the study, since the year 2000, the planet’s spin axis has wandered away from its normal range to the tune of about 75 degrees eastward. The tilt is caused by shifts in water distribution, thanks to the more than 396 trillion kilograms of ice that Greenland and west Antarctica lose per year. That, plus the 74 trillion kilograms that east Antarctica gains annually, puts more weight distribution towards the east, causing the planet to wobble on its polar axis like it's gone a little too hard at happy hour. So, does it mean that the planet is going to fall off its axis and go spiraling into the sun, like the end of some apocalyptic sci-fi movie? No, you’re safe. The effect is relatively harmless in and of itself. What it shows is just how large-scale the effects of climate change can be. John Ries, a geophysicist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Scientific American that it was, quite literally, a big deal. “If you're losing enough mass to change the orientation of the Earth — that's a lot of mass,” he said.