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  • Stand on the equator

  • and you'll be moving out 1,670 kilometers per hour,

  • faster than the speed of sound.

  • That's how quickly Earth rotates on its axis from west to east,

  • and that rotation is largely responsible

  • for the distribution of every desert, forest, and swamp on the planet.

  • So, let's do a little experiment.

  • Let's say we reverse Earth's rotation, what then?

  • Well, you'll change a lot more

  • than just the sunsets.

  • This may seem like a ridiculous scenario at first,

  • but scientists have actually run simulations for a backward-spinning Earth,

  • because it happens to be a great way to test how well we can model our planet.

  • So, let's pretend we have a big, red button, and ... presto!

  • Now, as Earth slows down to reverse direction

  • everything would go flying to the east,

  • so the whole process will leave a huge mess.

  • But let's take a look at the equator

  • once Earth has gotten back up to speed.

  • These are the trade winds,

  • which normally blow westward due to Earth's rotation.

  • So on backwards Earth, they reverse,

  • and that's where things get interesting.

  • At first, changes would be relatively small.

  • Hurricanes, for example, would no longer travel

  • from east to west across the Atlantic,

  • and westbound flights would suddenly be much shorter compared to eastbound.

  • Not so bad, right?

  • Let's fast forward a few thousand years into the future.

  • Changes in overall rain patterns

  • would turn Africa's Sahara Desert from this,

  • to something more like this.

  • In fact one simulation estimated

  • that the deserts of the world would shrink

  • from 42 million square kilometers to 31 million,

  • providing new plant life which would absorb

  • more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere,

  • potentially offsetting the extreme warming effects

  • from climate change. Wow, maybe we really should

  • reverse Earth's rotation.

  • But hold on, if the trade winds reverse direction,

  • it means that other wind patterns change too,

  • including the prevailing westerlies

  • that normally blow east across the Northern Atlantic,

  • and bring warm winds from the ocean

  • to Northwest Europe, keeping winters mild.

  • But on backwards Earth, the westerlies reverse,

  • and instead, Europe is bombarded

  • with cold winds from Russia.

  • As a result, scientists estimate winter temperatures

  • would drop by up to 10 degrees Celsius.

  • In fact, most of the North Atlantic would grow colder.

  • Simulations show that the Gulf Stream,

  • which normally transports warm tropic waters

  • to the North would reverse and shrink.

  • In North America, the landscape would change drastically.

  • For example the iconic deserts of the American Southwest

  • would disappear, and become the deserts

  • of the Southeast instead.

  • And while you're packing up to move

  • to the beautiful new green pastures of Arizona,

  • take a look at the horizon,

  • and enjoy that peculiar sunset to the east.

Stand on the equator

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B1 US reverse earth rotation east atlantic equator

What If Earth Started Spinning Backwards?

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    Silvia W. posted on 2019/04/13
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