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Leap Second

The adjustment between Atomic & Earth Time

     INTERNATIONAL EARTH ROTATION AND REFERENCE SYSTEMS SERVICE (IERS)
SERVICE INTERNATIONAL DE LA ROTATION TERRESTRE ET DES SYSTEMES DE REFERENCE
SERVICE DE LA ROTATION TERRESTRE
OBSERVATOIRE DE PARIS
61, Av. de l'Observatoire 75014 PARIS (France)
Tel.      : 33 (0) 1 40 51 22 29
FAX       : 33 (0) 1 40 51 22 91
Internet  : services.iers@obspm.fr
                                             Paris, 16 January 2014
                                             Bulletin C 47
                                             To authorities responsible
                                             for the measurement and
                                             distribution of time

                          INFORMATION ON UTC - TAI
 NO leap second will be introduced at the end of June 2014.
 The difference between Coordinated Universal Time UTC and the
 International Atomic Time TAI is :
     from 2012 July 1, 0h UTC, until further notice : UTC-TAI = -35 s
 Leap seconds can be introduced in UTC at the end of the months of December
 or June,  depending on the evolution of UT1-TAI. Bulletin C is mailed every
 six months, either to announce a time step in UTC, or to confirm that there
 will be no time step at the next possible date.
                                            Daniel GAMBIS
                                            Director
                                            Earth Orientation Center of IERS
                                            Observatoire de Paris, France
 

The Coordinated Universal Time (or UTC) replaced Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) as the reference time scale derived from The Temps Atomique International (TAI) calculated by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM) in Paris, France using a worldwide network of atomic clocks. UTC differs from TAI by an integer number of seconds; it is the basis of all activities in the world.

UT1 is the time scale based on the observation of the Earth's rotation. It is now derived from Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The various irregular fluctuations progressively detected in the rotation rate of the Earth lead in 1972 to the replacement of UT1 as the reference time scale . However, it was desired by the scientific community to maintain the difference UT1-UTC smaller than 0.9 second to ensure agreement between the physical and astronomical time scales.

Since the adoption of this system in 1972, firstly due to the initial choice of the value of the second (1/86400 mean solar day of the year 1900) and secondly to the general slowing down of the Earth's rotation, it has been necessary to add 21s to UTC. 

The decision to introduce a leap second in UTC is the responsibility of the International Earth Rotation Service (IERS). According to international agreements, first preference is given to the opportunities at the end of December and June, and second preference to those at the end of March and September. Since the system was introduced in 1972, only dates in June and December have been used.

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