Asked by robert to Anna, Daniel, Denise, Jesse, Rehemat on 24 Jun 2014.
Keywords: earth, rotation
Hi robert, good question. The rotation of the earth is a very good thing. If the Earth did not rotate, there would be no seasons, and there would also be no tides. And if I am correct in my thinking, one side of the Earth would be in perpetual darkness and be extremely cold and the other side would always be in light and be very hot, sort of like the near and far side of the Moon. This would make the Earth not a very stable place plant, animal and human life. I hope that helps answer your question!
The rotation of the Earth affects life in different ways. It causes day and night, which makes organisms to have to adjust when to have their activities. Second, the axis of rotation of the Earth is tilted about 22-24 degrees. The tilt of the axis of rotation causes the seasons. When the axis is tilted towards the Sun, the northern hemisphere has summer (and the southern winter); when the axis is tilted away from the Sun, then you have winter in the northern hemisphere (summer in the southern). The tilt of the axis is not fixed and varies a little bit every 41,000 years. The axis of rotation also wobbles (it rotates) every 26,000 years. The rotation of the Earth around the Sun is elliptical and a also changes how elliptical it is with a cycle of 100,000 years. The rotation of the Earth, and changes in the way it rotates on its own axis and around the Sun affect climate on Earth and how organisms have to adjust in their daily activities.
Earth rotation is one of the key ingredients determining the Earth’s climate, long rotation rates may for instance cause much larger temperature excursions on a daily base, making life a lot tougher (boiling during the day, freezing during the night!). On top of this, there would other, more subtle but not less important changes. For instance, the direction and speed of the winds would change, the typical duration of a storm would surely change (they would probably last longer with slower rotation rates), with enormous consequences on very basic things like: would any tree survive that?
Then, as Jesse already pointed out, season would change but also tides, and with those also marine life will be affected. Some fishes or plankton species relies on tidal current to get fresh nutrients and food, with that changed, they would also have to change their feeding habits.
Great question, actually, thanks for asking, it is very fascinating to think about how much life on Earth relies on this little detail…
You seem to be very interested in Earth science from the questions you are posing to us, which is extremely nice! 🙂
From my end, unfortunately, I probably came slightly late to answer these questions, which have already been very well answered by the other scientists.
I will probably, once again guide you to a good short documentary on this topic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4fUAoVWdbs
Hope it helps! 🙂
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