What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Spinning?

What Would Happen if the Earth Stopped Spinning?

What would happen if the earth's rotation slowed down and finally stopped spinning over a period of a few decades? ArcGIS lets us model the effects of this scenario, performing calculations and estimations and creating a series of maps showing the effects the absence of centrifugal force would have on sea level. [...]

If the earth stood still, the oceans would gradually migrate toward the poles and cause land in the equatorial region to emerge. This would eventually result in a huge equatorial megacontinent and two large polar oceans. The line that delineates the areas that hydrologically contribute to one or the other ocean would follow the equator if the earth was a perfect ellipsoid. However, due to the significant relief of both the continents and the ocean floor, the hypothetical global divide between the areas that hydrologically contribute to one or another ocean deviates from the equator significantly.

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9 Responses:

  1. 205guy says:

    Looks like everybody is getting into the what-if game. And there is a lot to be said for the brevity and wit of the original, as compared to this one. Also, this one was very much a hammer in search of a nail, as in look what I can map with my tool, hey if I add a lot of words, I can post it on the Internet.

    But what really bugs me is that the author, blinded by his tools, didn't address the issue of the earth losing its ellipsoid when rotation stops. Given earth tides of "meter-level amplitudes," it's plausible that a km-level ellipsoid wouldn't hold up on its own for very long.

    Sorry to be so grumpy, I usually like pretty maps, but I've discovered they need some sound reasoning too.

    • jwz says:

      Not to mention the energy required to stop the planet, and that the residual inertia in the tectonic plates would do who-knows-what, probably peel it like an egg. But hey, pretty map.

    • Edouard says:

      Oblate spheroid. And Northern Europe is still in the process of isostatic rebound after the last ice age 12000 years ago, so, although I agree with you that the planet would all go a bit spherical in this event, it would probably take a considerable amount of time, whereas the water would migrate within a remarkably short amount of time.

  2. dinatural says:

    This is an infomercial about ArcGIS the only geological/cartographical tool that any institution accepts when there are tens of good open source alternatives. ESRI is the devil's spawn and should be investigated, that is all.

  3. Martin says:

    For a moment, I got excited about this, because I thought ooh, if they've got a model that can simulate that, then it can also answer the Cube Earth question [0].

    Then I realised they'd actually just reprojected current topography onto an ellipsoid and drawn pretty pictures.

    [0] "If you could magically transform the Earth from a sphere to a cube, what would happen next?"

  4. Jake Nelson says:

    The stuff about the WGS84 ellipsoid bugs me because I hate ellipsoid-based coordinates... should stop defining elevation as relative to sea level, should be distance from Earth's center. (Someone always asks "which center": the intersection of the axis of rotation and the equatorial plane.)

  5. MetaRza says:

    Wall of text article. Does anyone have a Cliff Notes on why all the oceans would migrate to the "nearest" pole?

    • MetaRza says:

      Nevermind, I figured it out. The earth isn't a perfect sphere. The poles are closer to the center of mass.

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