Teaching Physics with the Physics Suite
The polar ice caps contain about 2.3 x 1019 kg of ice. This mass contributes essentially nothing to the moment of inertia of the earth because it is located at the poles, close to the axis of rotation. Estimate the change in the length of the day that would be expected if the polar ice caps were to melt and the water were distributed uniformly over the surface of the earth. (Hint: The moment of inertia of a thin spherical shell of radius r and mass m is 2mr2/3.)
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Page last modified October 15, 2002: R18