The moon's retreat causes Earth to spin more slowly on its axis, increasing the amount of daily sunlight a given region receives. The earth's movement is reportedly affected by celestial bodies exerting their forces on it.
They applied it to two rock layers, the 1.4 billion-year-old Xiamaling Formation from Northern China and a 55 million-year-old record from Walvis Ridge, in the southern Atlantic Ocean.
But the more they tried to look back in the rock record, the less reliable their conclusions became. Meyer and his team also analyzed some sediments in a 90 million-year-old rock.
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As people get older, they often feel like Earth's days are getting shorter. As a result, they are partially responsible for changes in climate throughout the planet's history. The system allowed the team to paint a rough picture of what a day on Earth might have been like over a billion years in the past, and better explain the evidence of climate shifts that have been observed in ancient rocks.
Now, using a new method, called astrochronology, Meyers and colleagues were able to devise a novel way to calculate the moon's influence on the days on Earth. Meyer estimated as to how the Earth rotated near about a billion years ago. For example, the current rate at which the moon is moving away from Earth suggests that "beyond about 1.5 billion years ago, the moon would have been close enough that its gravitational interactions with the Earth would have ripped the moon apart", Meyers said. If humans are fortunate to be still alive and kicking by then, the length of a day will have to be recalculated from 24 hours to 25 hours.
"In the future, we want to expand the work into different intervals of geologic time", says Malinverno.
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One day, as Meyers went to Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and gave a speech, he met Alberto Malinverno, Lamont Research Professor at Columbia. Changes in the climate due to orbital changes are called orbital forcing. This was before the period of spreading of the complex life across the globe. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin and Columbia University calculated that a day on Earth is slowly growing at one-74,000th of a second each year and will continue to increase at this pace for the next few million years.
Earlier the moon used to be a lot closer to the Earth, so the effect of its gravity was seen majorly on the earth.
The "groundbreaking" discovery - described in a paper in journal Proceeding of the National Academy of Science - was made using astrochronology, a statistical method that links astronomical theory with geological observation, and that could potentially help uncover many mysteries of the universe.
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