The Variation of Earth’s Gravitational Acceleration

The gravity of Earth varies on the different location on Earth. The variation is caused by the difference in latitude, altitude or depth, and local geology & topography. In most cases, the centrifugal acceleration from Earth’s rotation is also already accounted for in the value of Earth’s gravitational acceleration.

Flat-Earthers claim that according to science, the Earth’s gravitational acceleration is always constant at 9.8 m/s² everywhere on Earth. And they are using the claim to prove Earth is not a rotating sphere. In reality, the magnitude of Earth’s gravitational acceleration varies on the different location on Earth.

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Eötvös Effect: Evidence of Spherical, Rotating Earth

Eötvös effect is the change in perceived gravitational acceleration when moving eastward vs westward. An object will weigh more when moving westward than when it is stationary or moving eastward.

The effect was discovered by Loránd Eötvös in the 1900s after noticing the difference in gravity measurement on moving ships. He noticed that the readings were lower when the boat moved eastwards, higher when it moved westward. He identified this as primarily a consequence of the rotation of the Earth.

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The False Analogy of a Spinning Tennis Ball

The mass of the Earth exerts the gravitational acceleration of about 9.79 m/s² to everything on Earth’s surface toward the center of the Earth. On the other hand, the rotational motion of the Earth generates the centrifugal acceleration of about 0.03 m/s² away from the Earth. The net acceleration is about 9.79 m/s² toward the center of the Earth. That is why everything on Earth’s surface stays on the surface, not flying away to space.

Flat-Earthers often make a false comparison using a wet spinning ball. Water on the surface of a wet spinning ball does not stick to the ball; but the Earth is also round, wet and spins, yet everything stays on the surface. Then they make the erroneous conclusion that the Earth cannot be a spinning ball.

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