Skip to Content

Leap Seconds to continue for at least another eight years

25 November 2015

The World Radiocommunication Conference, 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".

Leap seconds are added periodically to adjust to irregularities in the earth’s rotation in relation to Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the current reference for measuring time, in order to remain close to mean solar time (UT1). A leap second was added most recently on 30 June 2015 at 23:59:60 UTC. The proposal to suppress the leap second would have made continuous reference time-scale available for all modern electronic navigation and computerized systems to operate while eliminating the need for specialized ad hoc time systems.

The decision by WRC-15 calls for further studies regarding current and potential future reference time-scales, including their impact and applications. A report will be considered by the World Radiocommunication Conference in 2023. Until then, leap seconds will continue to be applied to UTC.