Does the moon wobble?
The increase in flooding is caused in part by the moon's “wobble.” As it orbits Earth, the satellite's angle relative to the equator changes over time. This phenomenon — spanning an 18.6-year period — influences how tides ebb and flow. The Washington PostMoon ‘wobble’ and climate change could mean ‘double whammy’ of flooding in 2030s, NASA warns
The moon is wobbling. There's really no other way to say it. A slight alteration to the moon's orbit -- a wobble, if you will -- has raised both eyebrows and questions about what effect such a slight jiggle may have here on Earth. It's funny to say, sure, but the potential ramifications of a moon wobble have scientists concerned for the future.
In a study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change in June, scientists suggest that by the 2030s, the wobble will have enough of an effect on the moon's gravitational pull to impact rising sea levels, seeing coastal cities all around the US cop a drastic increase in flooding. Climate change is already causing global sea levels to rise in two ways: warming waters cause the volume of the ocean to expand and increased glacier and ice sheet melt.
For low-lying cities that already face this kind of "high-tide" flood risk, it could spell significant damage and concern in the not-so distant future.
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NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said, "The combination of the moon's gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world. NASA's Sea Level Change Team is providing crucial information so that we can plan, protect, and prevent damage to the environment and people's livelihoods affected by flooding."
Scientists identified the tipping points by studying tide gauge locations in the coastal US (excepting Alaska). Using the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's existing sea level rise scenarios and flood thresholds, they were able to create a statistical framework that projects likely scenarios over the next 60 years.
This will help narrow down likely timelines for significant flooding and help pinpoint how likely it is a flood might occur in different months of the year. Information like this could be crucial for coastal inhabitants and planners.
But what does the wobbly moon have to do with this? Climate scientists have warned that global sea levels have been rising -- and will continue to rise -- for quite some time. How does the wobble change what's already occurring?
Scientists have actually known about the wobble for centuries -- it was first discovered in 1728 -- however the issue is that sea levels have already risen to a point where we now must consider how the moon's existing tide cycles will affect the globe.
Experts split the moon's 18.6-year orbit into two halves, or tide cycles. For the duration of the first half, tides on Earth are suppressed, with high tides lower than average and low tides higher than average -- a "meet in the middle" kind of effect. For the other half, however, the effect is reversed. Tides are amplified: High tides get higher and low tides get lower.
The issue is that in the 2030s, when sea levels are expected to have risen considerably, the Earth will be in the amplified part of the tide cycle. High tides will be higher than ever, causing flood numbers to dramatically increase on the coastlines.
With this new predictive model, scientists can narrow down when and where these floods are most likely to occur -- and potentially save both lives and livelihoods in the process.
Read full article at Al Jazeera English
15 July, 2021 - 08:07am
Flooding along U.S. coasts is expected to be a worse problem starting in the 2030s due to the combination of a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit and rising sea levels resulting from climate change, according to a new NASA study.
Researchers from NASA’s Sea Level Change Science Team at the University of Hawaii have projected that there will be a decade in which the number of floods will dramatically increase, impacting almost all U.S. mainland coastlines, Hawaii and Guam.
High-tide floods — already a headache for many low-lying communities along the East and Gulf coasts — will occur more often and could sometimes happen in clusters lasting a month or longer, depending on the positions of the moon, Earth and sun, according to the study, which NASA says is the first to take into account all known oceanic and astronomical causes for floods. According to the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 600 high-tide floods in 2019.
“Low-lying areas near sea level are increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a news release. “The combination of the Moon’s gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world.”
Nelson said NASA hopes the information will be used to “plan, protect, and prevent damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods.”
The moon’s wobble affects its gravitation pull, the main cause of the rise and fall of ocean tides on Earth. The wobble is a regular part of the moon’s 18.6-year orbit and is not dangerous on its own. But it is expected to worsen the challenges created by rising sea levels, according to the study, which was published in the journal Nature Climate Change.
During half of the moon’s orbit, tides are amplified — high tides are higher, low tides are lower — and for the other half, they are suppressed — high tides are lower than normal, but low tides are higher. The moon is currently in the tide-amplifying stage of its cycle, but sea levels are not yet high enough to regularly top flooding thresholds. That won’t be the case in the mid-2030s, the next time the tides are amplified, the scientists said.
High-tide floods involve less water than hurricane storm surges, but their accumulated effect over time could be a significant problem, said Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and the study’s lead author.
“If it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can’t keep operating with its parking lot under water,” he said. “People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue.”
15 July, 2021 - 08:07am
NASA said the gravitational effects of the lunar cycle combined with sea levels rising due to climate change could produce "a decade of dramatic increases" in water disasters.
"The combination of the Moon’s gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson explained in a statement.
"NASA’s Sea Level Change Team is providing crucial information so that we can plan, protect, and prevent damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods affected by flooding.”
A lunar wobble is a natural occurrence that was first reported in 1728.
The wobble in the moon's orbit takes 18.6 years to complete.
For half of that time, regular daily tides on Earth are suppressed, which means high tides are lower than normal, and low tides are higher than normal.
During the other half of the 'wobble', the tides are intensified; meaning high tides get even higher, and low tides get even lower. As global sea levels rise, this will increase the already amplified high-tide effect.
The next time this "lunar assist" to high tides comes around will be in the mid-2030s, giving sea levels another decade to rise higher than they are now.
"What’s new is how one of the wobble’s effects on the moon’s gravitational pull – the main cause of Earth’s tides – will combine with rising sea levels resulting from the planet’s warming," NASA explained.
The study into the increasing tides was published in the Nature Climate Change journal by NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii.
Lead author on the report, Assistant Professor Phil Thompson, said the long term effects of constant flooding, some of which are predicted to occur in "clusters" and could last up to a month, is what will have an impact.
"If it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can’t keep operating with its parking lot under water," he said.
"People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue."
In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported a total of more than 600 high tide floods in many cities on the US, Atlantic and Gulf coasts. This year NSW and Victoria both suffered severe flooding.
According to a NASA statement, flooding is expected to rise near almost all US mainland coastlines, Hawaii, and Guam.
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14 July, 2021 - 11:26am
A new NASA study is warning of a significant increase in flooding on all United States coastlines beginning in the 2030s.
Rising sea levels and a specific lunar cycle will spark a decade of "dramatic increases in flood numbers" in coastal cities all across the country, according to the study, which was led by members of the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii.
High tides are expected to "exceed known flooding thresholds" more often, with some potentially occurring in "clusters" of a month or longer based on how the moon, Earth, and the sun are positioned, per the study. The gravitational pull could leave those living on the coast "with floods every day or two."
"Low-lying areas near sea level are increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse," NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement. "The combination of the moon's gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world."
High-tide floods are already causing problems for coastal communities across the U.S. In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported more than 600 such floods, according to NASA's press release. The significance of these floods depends on how the moon, Earth, and sun are positioned.
A "wobble" in the moon's regular orbit typically takes 18.6 years to complete, according to NASA. In one half of the cycle, high tides are lower than normal and low tides are higher than normal. The opposite effect occurs during the second half due to the moon's gravitational pull, creating an increase in flood numbers.
U.S. mainland coastlines, Hawaii, and Guam will likely see the most significant effects when the moon's amplifying cycle returns in the mid-2030s, according to the study. Northern coastlines, including Alaska, should see a similar spike in flooding the following decade. (Data for this study was collected by observing 89 tide gauge locations in every coastal U.S. state and territory, minus Alaska.)
Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and the lead author of the new study, believes "the accumulated effect" of flooding will have the biggest impact on coastal communities over time. He worries about the tendency to overlook the issue because high-tide floods involve smaller amounts of water.
"But if it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can't keep operating with its parking lot under water," Thompson said in the press release. "People lose their jobs because they can't get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue."
Nelson said the information provided by NASA's Sea Level Change Team will help scientists "plan, protect, and prevent damage to the environment and people's livelihoods" moving forward.
"From a planning perspective, it's important to know when we'll see an increase," said Ben Hamlington, a co-author of the paper and leader of NASA's Sea Level Change Team. "Understanding that all your events are clustered in a particular month, or you might have more severe flooding in the second half of a year than the first — that's useful information."
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