Ever since plans were announced to construct the Three Gorges Dam hydroelectric power station in China, scientists have expressed their concerns about the enormous operation, which has involved filling in an enormous reservoir. Physicists have said that the construction could have a huge effect on the structure of the Earth. Now it appears as though their fears were justified and that the Three Gorges Dam has actually changed the rotation of the Earth.
MASSIVE CHINESE POWER STATION MIGHT CHANGE THE ROTATION OF THE EARTH
The Three Gorges Dam is located in Hubei province in China and is the world’s largest hydroelectric power station and one of the most efficient. In order to power such an incredibly large power hydroelectric power system an absolutely phenomenal amount of water is required. The enormous damn is approximately 410 miles in length and just under a mile in width and when it is filled to maximum capacity the water can rise to an incredible 574 feet above sea level. Worryingly, if the dam burst it has the potential to flood more than six hundred square kilometers of land with approximately forty-two billion tons of water.
The reason that this unprecedentedly large power station has attracted so much international attention is that its construction has caused a shift in mass that it could theoretically alter the rotation of the Earth itself through a scientific principle known as the moment of inertia. If the Three Gorges Dam were to be filled to its maximum capacity of 574 feet above sea level, it would increase the Earth’s moment of inertia and slow its rotation. According to scientists at NASA, this could increase the length of a day by 0.06 microseconds. It could also mean that the pole positions could shift by around two centimeters which could make the Earth slightly more round in the middle and flatter on the top.
As of yet, scientists and experts have not speculated about what the long term effects of continually altering the Earth’s rotation could be.