Weight gain is a common complaint of holidaymakers. According to Nasa choosing a different destination could make a difference in how much you weigh.
Scientists have recently discovered the reason why travellers to Sri Lanka are lighter, whereas you’ll gain weight in Turkey. It’s not the baklava.
Since the 1960s Nasa has known that gravity does not affect the globe evenly, with ‘anomalies’ in the weight of objects travelling from one location to another.
Though those hoping to shed might be disappointed.
A traveller weighing 68kg in New Zealand could lose up to 3g when in the Maldives or Canada’s Hudson Bay, where there are areas of lower relative-gravity. The difference is not massive, around 1/25,000 of your bodyweight, but it’s a start.
What it does tell us is that the makeup of the planet is very different under foot, affecting the weight and gravitational force on the surface.
Which country has lowest gravity?
Satellites from Nasa’s GRACE mission (Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment) have been mapping the differences for years. While ocean measuring stations have suggested there is a difference the use of satellite imaging to measure water density has allowed Nasa to build high definition of gravity.
The lowest gravity on the planet is found at the southern tip of Sri Lanka and parts of the Indian Ocean east of the Maldives. North Canada around the Hudson Bay area is also an area of low gravity.
The difference is thought to be down to the thickness of the Earth’s crust and the volume of molten rock and magma, beneath the surface.
“The Canadian anomaly has been known for a long time,” said Dan Britt, director of the Center for Lunar and Asteroid Surface Science. The physicist from the University of Florida told the Daily Mail, it is now thought that the changes came about during the last Ice Age when enormous glaciers pressed down on the Earth’s surface.
He described it like squishing a jam sandwich, the thick ice sheets deformed the crust, pushing the fluid to the edges.
“A couple of miles of ice is heavy enough to depress the crust,” said Britt.
Where on Earth is gravity the strongest?
Elsewhere ‘heavy’ spots can be explained by currents in molten rock, or magma, and convection currents in superheated bubbling lava.
The strongest gravity earth is located around Bolivia and the northern Andes, where relative gravity represents around 50 additional milligals. Here you’ll be around 1/19613th heavier than at 1 standard gravity.
Objects are also slightly heavier around the poles and around the fault lines of the Pacific. There is an area of increased weight at the top of New Zealand’s North Island following the Kermadec Trench.
The distribution of gravity is slowly changing as the fluid magma redistributes and continental plates shift. Since the launch of the GRACE and GRACE-FO (follow on) satellites in 2018, Nasa has been mapping the slow change, by measuring surface water.
Measuring “the amount of water in large lakes and rivers, as well as changes in sea level and ocean currents provides an integrated global view of how Earth’s water cycle and energy balance are evolving”, says the Nasa GRACE mission.
Rather than helping weight watchers plan their holidays, there are bigger implications of gravitational anomalies on surface water which compound climate changes.
“GRACE allows hydrologists to monitor water in underground aquifers and entire river basins, providing better information for decisions about drought mitigation and flood hazards,” says the mission’s Gravity Model from the University of Texas.
Sadly you’ll gain that weight back the moment you get home.