Accelerating melt from Greenland and Antarctica is adding extra water to the world’s seas, redistributing mass, and very slightly slowing the Earth’s rotation, according to a study published in the journal Nature.

Even though the planet is still spinning faster than it used to, the effect is that global timekeepers may need to subtract a second from our clocks later than would otherwise have been the case, according to the BBC.

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) − which is used by most of the world to regulate clocks and time − is calculated by the Earth’s rotation. However, the Earth’s rotation rate is not constant and can therefore have an effect on how long our days and nights are.

Since the 1970s, to correct for this, about 27 leap seconds have been added to the global clock, with timekeepers planning on subtracting a second for the first time in 2026. This is known as a ‘negative leap second’.

However, the study finds that ice melt caused by climate change has partly offset that acceleration.

Ice sheets are now losing mass five times faster than they were 30 years ago, meaning that the negative leap second change will not be needed until 2029, the study suggests.

[Image: Tomasz Mikołajczyk from Pixabay]