While other planets are indubitably lovely, Earth is the one that carries us around day in and day out. It also has LaCroix, a delicious beverage that the company did not in any way pay me to promote!
But what would happen if Earth got rocked by a large object, shifting it to start spinning in the opposite direction? In the event it didn’t get completely destroyed, researchers say life on Earth would be radically different.
According to new information presented on April 9 at the European Geosciences Union (EGU), Earth spinning in the opposite direction of its current rotation would completely alter our planet’s landscape. Scientists created models to simulate the opposite of Earth’s current rotation, called prograde, and created a “retrograde rotating Earth.” The team then monitored the various changes that took place across a 7,000-year time span.
The first major difference was the planet’s climate, which makes a lot of sense.
“The computer model showed a planet with some expected changes,” Bas den Hond writes for Eos. “Winds from the east brought a more temperate climate to the Atlantic coast of the United States, for example, but severe winters to western Europe. However, Ziemen was surprised to see the Sahara Desert was gone, and the Middle East had all the precipitation it needed. Instead, the southeastern United States and large parts of Brazil and Argentina had become deserts.”
Earth’s whacky weather is nothing compared to the other big change: a massive cyanobacteria bloom. This kind of blue-green algae is found across the world in water and even sloths’ fur. But in a retrograde rotating Earth, it would be abundant, which could completely change the balance of marine ecosystems. Who knows how that could impact the complex food webs within our oceans?
While this isn’t the first time researchers have modeled a backward-spinning Earth, it does contextualize the importance of climatology, and the fragility of life on our planet. One change in Earth’s rotation would send the entire planet into a frenzy, making it a desertless world controlled by a cyanobacteria army. Perhaps work like this is a good reminder that we all have to share this planet until we die, and we should probably take better care of it until then.
Besides, Earth has pamplemousse LaCroix. That’s already one huge incentive to keep our planet thriving.