Losing Time Thanks To La Nina


Wednesday, January 30th 2008, 9:56 pm
By: News On 6


We're currently in a La Nina event.  Confused about the difference between El Nino and La Nina?  We know it impacts our weather, but it will also impact our time.  News On 6 anchor Jennifer Loren reports if it feels like you just don't have enough time in the day, you're not alone.

But, it's more than just a feeling that you're losing time.  Physicists have found that, thanks to La Nina, we really are losing time.

"The Earth's rotation is affected," said Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Jean Dickey.

We're currently in a La Nina event, meaning the Pacific Ocean temperatures in the tropics are cooler.  That slows down the jet stream in the atmosphere, and to compensate, the earth speeds up.  The result, for the next few months, we are going to lose an entire millisecond each day.

"It's slowing down," said Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Jean Dickey.

But, for every La Nina that loses us time, an El Nino, with its warm ocean temps and faster jet streams, gains us time.

"So between a warm event and a cold event, they balance each other out," said Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist Jean Dickey.

The only real impact the time change will have is for researchers who are dealing with very precise navigation.  They need to know the speed of the earth's rotation to help them find satellites and other research tools.