Spring, the season of flowers and showers, is here. While you may be planning to make the most of it, researchers say that spring is getting shorter by 30 seconds to a minute every year, reports Laura Geggel of LiveScience. According to the U.S. National Weather Service (NWS), spring began at 6:45 p.m. EDT on Friday, March 20 this year.
Spring has been getting shorter for thousands of years
At that precise moment, referred to as the vernal equinox, the Earth’s axis reached a halfway mark. It means, at that moment, our planet pointed neither towards the sun nor away from it, says Gavin Schmidt of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Spring has been getting shorter in the Northern Hemisphere for thousands of years.
This year, spring is the second longest season with 92.76 days, compared to summer with 93.65 days. Spring is followed by autumn with 89.84 days and winter with 88.99 days. Researchers said, with each passing year, winter will lose time to autumn, and spring will lose time to summer. Seasons are the result of the tilt of our planet on its axis, rather than how close the Earth is to the sun.
Precession causing spring to get smaller
For six months, the Northern Hemisphere leans slightly towards the sun. For the other six months, it’s the Southern Hemisphere’s turn to tilt towards the sun. Meanwhile, the Earth’s axis also moves in a motion called precession. Precession is the main reason spring is getting shorter. Summer solstice marks the end of spring. The point along our planet’s orbit where the Earth reaches the summer solstice shifts slightly due to precession.
Therefore, with each passing year, the Earth reaches the point in its orbit of the summer solstice a bit earlier. Spring will end a bit earlier next year. Most people don’t notice these minute changes, but it shows its impact over a long period. For instance, spring will measure only 88.5 days in the year 8680.