Definition

Coordinated Universal Time (UTC, GMT, CUT)

Part of the IT standards and organizations glossary:

Coordinated Universal Time (abbreviated as UTC, and therefore often spelled out as Universal Time Coordinated and sometimes as Universal Coordinated Time) is the standard time common to every place in the world. Formerly and still widely called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and also World Time, UTC nominally reflects the mean solar time along the Earth's prime meridian. (The prime meridian is 0° longitude in the 360 lines of longitude on Earth. There are 179 meridians toward the East and 179 toward the West. The 180th meridian is also called the International Date Line.) The prime meridian is arbitrarily based on the meridian that runs through the Greenwich Observatory outside of London, where the present system originated. The UTC is based on an atomic clock to which adjustments of a second (called a leap second) are sometimes made to allow for variations in the solar cycle.

Coordinated Universal Time is expressed using a 24-hour clock but can be converted into a 12-hour clock (AM and PM). UTC is used in plane and ship navigation, where it also sometimes known as Zulu. UTC uses the Gregorian calendar.

UTC was defined by the International Radio Consultative Committee (CCIR), a predecessor organization of the ITU-TS, and is maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM).

This was last updated in February 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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