Earth Is Getting More Than 5,000 Tonnes Heavier Every Year, Study Shows
The Earth is getting 5,200 tonnes heavier every year, and it’s all thanks to a build-up of dust, a new study shows.
A team of researchers in France, the UK and the US have studied how much extraterrestrial dust Earth picks up as it carries out its annual orbit around the sun.
Extraterrestrial dust particles, also known as micrometeorites, usually measure between a few molecules and 0.1mm, and it’s not uncommon for them to fall on the Earth’s surface.
Over the last two decades, scientists have been collecting extraterrestrial particles from three snow pits dug out in Antarctica.
The report, titled ‘The micrometeorite flux at Dome C (Antarctica), monitoring the accretion of extraterrestrial dust on Earth’, which was published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters yesterday, April 15, found that these particles account for 5,200 metric tonnes of extra weight on Earth each year.
Scientists said the specific location the micrometeorites were collected from offers unique preservation conditions because there is no water present to destroy the particles, Science News reports. There are also no humans, plants or other animals present.
‘To prevent potential anthropic contamination due to activities at the station, samples of snow were extracted in trenches with depths larger than 2 metres,’ scientists said. The snow was extracted using both saws and shovels.
The scientists said they dug this far to reach samples of snow that had been deposited earlier than the year 1995, the year that marks the beginning of human presence in the area.
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