What would happen to the oceans if the earth stopped rotating?

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John K

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John K  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
What would happen to the oceans if the earth stopped rotating?

What do you think?

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Offline lightarrow

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John K  asked the Naked Scientists:
   
What would happen to the oceans if the earth stopped rotating?

What do you think?
A big flux of water from the equator (and nearby areas) towards the poles. Probably many cities in the North and in the South coasts would be flooded.

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lyner

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Why "towards the poles"?
What is the Moon doing at this time? If it's still going round once a month, I should look for an ellipsoidal water surface with the points facing towards and away from the Moon with the major axis moving approx around the equator once a month.
If there's no Moon then the sea would form an even more oblate spheroid than the shape of the nominally solid Earth, itself. How much deeper than it is now at the Equator? I have no idea but it is workoutable within ballpark figures.

EDIT Having re read the original post, I see the second para is total ravings. Lightarrow is, as normal, nearer the truth.
« Last Edit: 13/06/2009 16:00:14 by sophiecentaur »

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Offline ukmicky

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The UK would become a block of ice.

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Offline LeeE

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John K: what exactly do you mean by 'stopped rotating?

Do you mean that the Earth suddenly stops rotating, or gradually slows down to a stop (which it is already doing)?

The idea of Earth suddenly stopping is a bit silly as there's no mechanism by which it could be done, but even then, if the Earth's rotation could be suddenly stopped then there's no reason why everything else on Earth wouldn't be suddenly stopped too; if you're talking about impossibilities then you've got to apply them evenly.

The Earth is slowing down though, so over the aeons that it'll take to actually stop, the migration of water that Lightarrow describes will occur because of the reduction of centripetal force throwing the water out and away from the axis of rotation.
...And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach itself to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!

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lyner

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There are a lot of these 'daft' questions. But they are not as daft as they look (like me). If you rephrase the question as "What would the oceans be doing in a stationary planet" then you don't need to get cross and can answer the question.

The one which gets up my nose is "What would happen if the Sun disappeared", though. There just isn't an answer, without qualifications, to that one.

Of course, if the planet were not spinning and had never spun it would be a sphere, and  the layer of water over it would be a spherical shell.
« Last Edit: 13/06/2009 19:04:28 by sophiecentaur »

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lyner

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Our Year would be the same as our Day. The side facing towards the Sun would get much hotter than at a normal midday- heating up for six months and the side facing away would be colder than an arctic winter - cooling down for six months. Life could exist at some distance from the poles, I suspect, where the temperature would not be too high. (Is it still tilted?)