The ITU World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), currently in session in Geneva from 2 to 27 November, has decided that further studies are required on the impact and application of a future reference time-scale, including the modification of coordinated universal time (UTC) and suppressing the so-called leap second
In the short term leap seconds
are not as predictable as everyone would like," he added.
Since the procedure was introduced on January 1, 1972, 25 leap seconds
have been needed.
The last leap second
was witnessed in 2012 but as predicted, widespread problems across the globe came to the fore.
According to Stamatakos, the addition of leap seconds
was really down to physics.
In some cases it appears that some techies only guessed that the problem was related to the leap second
because it happened to occur precisely at the moment of midnight UTC/GMT.
The matter of a simple leap second
also cost travellers hours and left passengers stranded all across the country.
In order for our civil time (UTC based on TAI) to keep "in step" with the changing earth rotational speed, UT1 leap seconds
are added to the year from time to time to compensate for this slowing down.
Since the first leap second
in 1972, all leap seconds
have been positive.
Timekeepers argue that both measures are useful but haven't agreed when to add leap seconds
to make the planetary and the atomic clock years match up (SN: 4/22/06, p.
have been occurring since 1972 in either January or June - every one to seven or so years as needed to maintain Earth, not man-made clocks, as the ultimate timekeeper, said John Mosley, an astronomer at the Griffith Park Observatory.
were introduced in 1972, but this is the first to be used for seven years.
are one-second adjustments to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the widely adopted reference for civil time.
So if the artifact that constrains seconds to the range 0 to 59 is integrated with any that propagate leap seconds
, it might fail all of a sudden one New Year's.
Originally, leap seconds
were added to provide a UTC time signal that could be used for navigation at sea.