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Entire Australian Continent Shifting Positions Every Season; Here's Why

Nov 21, 2016 04:30 AM EST

Scientists have found that the continent of Australia is shifting back and forth by several millimeters every year because of alterations to the Earth's center of mass. This center of mass is found to change every season, indicating that the entire continent is changing its position twice every year.

In the early part of the year, researchers validated that the continent had shifted by 1.5 meters toward the north in the course of the last 22 years on account of tectonic shifts. The government is slated to officially update the nation's longitude and latitude to find out the exact change.

However, the latest study shows that besides this northward drift, Australia is regularly moving back and forth the entire year because of variations to the Earth's center of mass, which is a position relative to an object or system of objects. In the case of our planet, it lies at the center of the molten core of the Earth, approximately 6,000 kilometers below the surface.

However, this position changes as the distribution of water across the surface of the earth varies based on the change in seasons. As a result, the center of mass of the Earth also shifts by a few millimeters in various directions. This tiny shift has an impact on all continents, but because Australia is located between the South Pacific Ocean and Europe, its shift is the highest, according to the research team.

Shin-Chan Han at the University of New Castle and lead researcher of the study stated that water drifts every season, and this motion leads to a recognizable and sizeable deformation in the continent. The team found that when the Northern Hemisphere is snow-laden, the weight of the frozen water is powerful enough to move the center of mass of the Earth by a few millimeters. Because of this, Australia moves northwest by approximately one millimeter, while its northwestern edge moves downwards by two to three millimeters.

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