Sophisticated new gravity research suggests that changes in Earth’s climate may actually be having a stunning geophysical effect: slightly moving the location of the planet’s spin axis, or axis of daily rotation. In other words, even as the Earth spins on its axis in a west to east direction, completing a full rotation every 24 hours, that axis itself is also moving. This, in turn, means that the physical North and South poles are actually shifting, with the North Pole now drifting towards the United Kingdom.

And given that much of this is related to the loss of polar ice, a changing climate would appear to be at least partly —although perhaps not wholly — responsible. “If we lose mass from the Greenland ice sheet, we are essentially putting mass elsewhere. And as we redistribute the mass, the spin axis tends to find a new direction. And that’s what we mean by polar motion,” said Surendra Adhikari, a researcher with Caltech and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who conducted the work with his colleague Erik Ivins. The new research appeared Friday in Science Advances. FULL REPORT