Earth rotation changes since −500 CE driven by ice mass variations

Carling Hay, Jerry X. Mitrovica, Eric Morrow, Robert E. Kopp, Peter Huybers, Richard B. Alley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We predict the perturbation to the Earth's length-of-day (LOD) over the Common Era using a recently derived estimate of global sea-level change for this time period. We use this estimate to derive a time series of “clock error”, defined as the difference in timing of two clocks, one based on a theoretically invariant time scale (terrestrial time) and one fixed to Earth rotation (universal time), and compare this time series to millennial scale variability in clock error inferred from ancient eclipse records. Under the assumption that global sea-level change over the Common Era is driven by ice mass flux alone, we find that this flux can reconcile a significant fraction of the discrepancies between clock error computed assuming constant slowing of Earth's rotation and that inferred from eclipse records since 700 CE. In contrast, ice mass flux cannot reconcile the temporal variability prior to 700 CE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Aug 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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