Schaltsekunde


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Heute wird die ganze Weltzeit um eine Sekunde verschoben
– zumindest im Bereich von Computer und Internet.

Droht ein technischer Absturz?

Schaltjahre sind wir seit jeher gewohnt – doch Schaltsekunden?

In der Nacht vom 30. Juni zum 1. Juli steht uns wieder eine Schaltsekunde bevor – gemäss der Zeitung mit den grossen Buchstaben ein Sache, vor der die Fachleute zittern.

Was sind Schaltsekunden, und was bedeutet das für uns Normalbürger?

Alarm! hat dazu den Physiker Dr. Jacques Morel vom Eidgenössischen Amt für Metrologie (METAS) befragt.

Warum braucht es überhaupt Schalt-Sekunden?

Heutzutage wird die Zeit mit Atomuhren gemessen. So können sehr hohe Genauigkeiten und Stabilitäten realisiert werden. Da die Erdrotation nicht konstant ist, weicht die Zeit der Natur (astronomische Zeit) und der Atomuhren langsam voneinander ab. Um zu grosse Abweichungen zu vermeiden, wird bei Bedarf eine Schaltsekunde eingefügt. Ziel ist es, die Differenz zwischen der astronomischen Zeit und der Zeit der Atomuhren immer unter 0,9 Sekunden zu halten.

Wer ist davon betroffen?

Die Schaltsekunde muss bei allen Systemen, wo die Absolute Zeit massgebend ist, berücksichtigt werden. Das betrifft also alle, die technische Systeme benutzen.

Welche konkreten Auswirkungen hat es auf unsere täglichen Technikanwendungen?

Viele Systeme hängen von einer genauen und stabilen Zeitbasis ab, sei es die Telekommunikation, die Datenübertragung, das Internet  oder Systeme wie das GPS und der Flugverkehr.

Beim GPS würde eine falsche Zeit zu grossen Ortungsfehlern führen. Aus diesem Grund werden solche Systeme von den Betreibern gegen diesen Effekt geschützt. Ein grosses Problem aufgrund der Schaltsekunde ist deswegen bei den meisten Systemen kaum zu erwarten. Zeitserver im Internet können allerdings mit der Schaltsekunde tatsächlich Probleme haben, wenn sie für die Umstellung nicht richtig vorbereitet sind. Das sind seltene Fälle, die wir als Nutzer auch nicht beeinflussen können.

Wer ist verantwortlich, wenn etwas schief geht? Die Politik, die Behörden, die Techniknutzer selber?

In der Schweiz ist grundsätzlich das Eidgenössische Institut für Metrologie (METAS) für die korrekte Zeit verantwortlich (Bundesgesetz über das Eidgenössische Institut für Metrologie (EIMG) vom 17. Juni 2011). Es ist aber auch der Verantwortung des Benutzers, sicherzustellen, dass seine Systeme in der Lage sind, die Schaltsekunde richtig zu pflegen.

In der Praxis bedeutet das:

Für unsere privaten Computer, Smartphones etc. ist die Schaltsekunde in der Regel nicht von Bedeutung.

Für die grossen Kommunikationssysteme ist die Schaltsekunde von grosser Bedeutung, aber wir können zur korrekten Anwendung nichts beitragen. In den letzten Jahren sind nur wenige Probleme aufgetreten, aber sie sind nicht völlig ausgeschlossen. Dennoch: Panik ist nicht angesagt, die grossen Systembetreiber haben das Problem ziemlich gut im Griff.

Weiterführende Informationen:

http://www.admin.ch/opc/de/official‐compilation/2011/6515.pdf
http://hpiers.obspm.fr/eop‐pc/
http://www.livescience.com/49370‐leap‐second‐added‐2015.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leap_second