What would happen if the Earth stopped spinning? We don’t have any reason to think it will in the next few million millennia, but Witold Fraczek, an employee of geographic imaging software company ESRI, was curious. He used ArcGIS, the company’s flagship software, to build a virtual model of the planet in the absence of centrifugal force.
Currently, the spin of our planet (it goes 1,667 kilometers per hour at the equator) pulls the mass of water toward the equator, creating an unsightly ellipsoidal bulge, and the oceans we are familiar with.
Fraczek modeled the gradual change in the planet’s geography that would happen as Earth slowed to a halt. As the spin stopped, the oceans would all fall back toward the poles, drowning everything north of Chicago and south of Buenos Aires and creating two massive circumpolar oceans. Wrapped around the middle of the planet would be a single equatorial megacontinent, with giant dry valleys where the old Atlantic and Pacific used to be. The immobile planet would be a perfect, if somewhat mountainous, sphere.