The earth currently spins at 1770 km/h (1100mph) at the equator, as it orbits the sun.
If that just stopped instantly, it would be… chaos.
Anything on land that was not attached to bedrock, would go flying.
That would mean, rocks, soil, trees, buildings, animals, people would be swept away.
The sudden stop would force the water sideways in an instant, causing devastating tsunamis.
The sudden stop would force the water sideways in an instant, causing devastating tsunamis. Credit: Seven
This would also include the oceans, which would be forced sideways, at terrifying speed.
Tsunamis would form.. so high you couldn’t see the top.
Just a gigantic wall of water racing at nearly 2000 km/h.
All of that would be catastrophic.
But wait, there’s more.
The Earth may stop suddenly, but the atmosphere would continue to spin, which would cause winds and storms travelling at the speed of an atomic blast.
Ok, so that’s what would instantly happen.
If anyone happens to survive those catastrophes, things are about to get a little more interesting.
The Earth isn’t perfectly round – there’s a bulge of water around the creator, caused by centrifuagl force.
The current spin of the earth means there’s a bulge of water at the equator, caused by a centrifugal force
If the earth stops spinning, the bulge would flatten, and the water would spread out towards each pole, where gravity is strongest, filling up the Arctic and southern ocean.
Earth as we know it.
If the Earth stopped spinning, gravity would draw all the water to the north and south poles, leaving behind a strip of land, or a ‘mega continent’.
If the Earth stopped spinning, gravity would draw all the water to the north and south poles, leaving behind a strip of land, or a ‘mega continent’. Credit: Seven
That would leave this mega continent, wrapped around the equator of the planet.
In the north, Canada’s gone, as well as the north of Asia and Europe.
Down south, the Southern Ocean would start on a line roughly through Canberra, and would see Australia join New Guinea and Indonesia.
New Earth would look A LOT different.
Right, so on the new, still Earth, one day would cease being 24 hours long.
And instead, be 365 days long.
1. Sudden stop
If the planet stopped suddenly, everything on the surface would be destroyed, as the atmosphere, oceans and anything not nailed down kept spinning. Even braking to a halt over a minute would mean everything experienced a sideways deceleration of three-quarters of Earth’s gravity, so ‘down’ would feel like it was at an angle of 38° from the vertical. That’s enough to knock over most buildings.
2. Changing continents
If it slowed down over several years, it would still be a disaster. Without centrifugal force, the oceans would move towards the poles, dropping ocean depth by 8km around the equator. Since this is less than the depth of the ocean there, Earth’s water would be divided into two huge polar oceans separated by a belt of land in the middle. Everything north of Spain would be underwater, as well as all of Antarctica.
3. Bake and freeze
Once Earth doesn’t spin on its own axis, a day lasts as long as a year. Everywhere receives six months of daylight, gradually heating up the planet to well over 100°C. The huge central continent would get the hottest and any remaining lakes and rivers would boil away and be blown to the poles by fierce winds. Even primitive life would only be possible along a narrow strip at the coast.