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Analysis of a Precambrian resonance-stabilized day length

Bartlett, Benjamin C. and Stevenson, David J. (2016) Analysis of a Precambrian resonance-stabilized day length. Geophysical Research Letters, 43 (11). pp. 5716-5724. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1002/2016GL068912.

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During the Precambrian era, Earth's decelerating rotation would have passed a 21 h period that would have been resonant with the semidiurnal atmospheric thermal tide. Near this point, the atmospheric torque would have been maximized, being comparable in magnitude but opposite in direction to the lunar torque, halting Earth's rotational deceleration, maintaining a constant day length, as detailed by Zahnle and Walker (1987). We develop a computational model to determine necessary conditions for formation and breakage of this resonant effect. Our simulations show the resonance to be resilient to atmospheric thermal noise but suggest a sudden atmospheric temperature increase like the deglaciation period following a possible “snowball Earth” near the end of the Precambrian would break this resonance; the Marinoan and Sturtian glaciations seem the most likely candidates for this event. Our model provides a simulated day length over time that resembles existing paleorotational data, though further data are needed to verify this hypothesis.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemAll of the code used in this paper
Bartlett, Benjamin C.0000-0002-1799-799X
Stevenson, David J.0000-0001-9432-7159
Additional Information:© 2016 American Geophysical Union. Received 30 MAR 2016; Accepted 10 MAY 2016; Accepted article online 16 MAY 2016; Published online 15 JUN 2016; Corrected 12 JUL 2016. The authors wish to thank the late Tom Tombrello for several contributions to this paper. We also thank two reviewers for their constructive feedback. All of the code used in this paper is available in an open-source repository at or upon request from the first author.
Subject Keywords:length of day; snowball Earth; tides
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20151123-112131576
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Official Citation:Bartlett, B. C., and D. J. Stevenson (2016), Analysis of a Precambrian resonance-stabilized day length, Geophys. Res. Lett., 43, 5716–5724, doi:10.1002/2016GL068912.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:62331
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:23 Nov 2015 19:28
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 23:01

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