The average block time on the Ethereum blockchain decreased by almost 25 % after the mining difficulty was decreased.
Data reported on Ethereum block explorer Etherscan reveals that from Jan. 1 to Jan. 4, the daily average block time on the blockchain decreased from 17.16 to 12.96 seconds. This translates to a 24.48% shorter block time.
The block time decrease led to a higher number of blocks mined daily and a higher Ether (ETH) inflation. According to Etherscan’s Ethereum block count and rewards chart, during Jan. 1, miners created 4,980 new blocks and 10,237 ETH. On Jan. 4 the network’s miners created 6,570 new blocks and 13,437 new ETH. This is almost a 32% increase in the number of blocks and over 31% increase in block rewards.
The changes mentioned above are all consequences of the recent implementation of the Muir Glacier hard fork. The fork in question is meant to delay the so-called Ethereum ice age. The ice age protocol increases the network’s mining difficulty over time until it makes the mining of the chain practically impossible.
The ice age will come about through a series of difficulty bombs and it is ultimately a measure meant to prevent miners from continuing to mine the old Ethereum chain after the Ethereum 2.0 proof-of-stake blockchain gets deployed.