Explainer: The Earth is changing in worrisome ways due to global warming

By Elton Gomes

With temperatures soaring around the world, climate change is having an increasing impact on changing the face of the earth.

A report in Science Alert mentions that a substantial amount of the Earth’s dry land is made up of moderately buoyant plates of mineral that are pushed around due to the churning of a thick layer of molten rock.

As per the report, this movement is so slow that no one noticed it until it was pointed out by a geophysicist named Alfred Wegener in 1912. This powerful movement of the earth’s dry land can trigger other devastating effects. With climate change closing down sharply on us, this tectonic movement might just make it worse.

Here’s what happened

Earlier last month a huge crack several kilometres long made a sudden appearance in south-western Kenya. The tear caused part of the Nairobi-Narok highway to collapse.

Scientists said the splitting of the land in Kenya was due to the movement of plates within the earth. Even though the crack was miniature, the drift has been moving a few centimetres each year, thereby widening the crack. The extremely gradual movement of the crack suggests that in 10 million years, the east African plate of Somali will be isolated by the ocean.

Furthermore, over a period of 50 million years, it is anticipated that the bulk of Africa will be pushed into Europe.

Referencing cataclysmic events such as the Tohoku earthquake in Japan and the volcanic eruption at Eyjafjallajökull, it can be surmised that the earth, and its interior, are unpredictable areas. The Guardian reported that these tectonic movements occur almost at the speed of which our fingernails grow.

The movement of continents

The earth’s water bodies have an effect on the movement of continents and it has been reported that Australia has been “shaking back and forth” and is moving up north. Australia’s gradual movement has been attributed to changes in the earth’s centre of mass. However, this centre of mass is reportedly changing every single season meaning that Australia is moving twice a year.

In 2016, researchers confirmed that Australia had moved up to 1.5 metres north over a period of 22 years as a result of tectonic shifts. Australia has another reason to worry due to the earth’s “bulging waistline“. If the earth’s expansion rate continues, droughts will worsen and rainfall will be lesser.

Why you should care

Tectonic movements in the earth’s interior suggest that we have a lot to explore. Scientists, geologists, and researchers will have to study the earth’s interior and the effects of climate change on it. Will climate change accelerate deterioration in the earth’s plates? If so, will the planet witness even more devastating earthquakes and/or tsunamis? Moreover, a comprehensive study is needed to make us better prepared to endure the effects of these tectonic movements.

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