NASA: Moon "wobble" will cause dramatic increases in coastal flooding


Axios 13 July, 2021 - 07:55pm 55 views

Why does the moon wobble?

- According to the Nasa's website, when the Moon makes its elliptical orbit, its velocity varies and alters causing our perspective of the "light side" to appear at slightly different angles. This is what it calls the Moon's wobble or that is how it appears to our eyes. Hindustan TimesNasa says Moon's 'wobble' will cause devastating floods: Here's what it means

Moon’s ‘wobble’ to shift in 2030, NASA says. Here’s why that’s bad for coastal cities

Miami Herald 14 July, 2021 - 02:23am

As the moon orbits around the Earth, the two celestial bodies, together with the sun, line up in ways that influence how gravity acts on our planet.

The phenomenon is what causes ocean tides to wax and wane, but the gravitational pull differs from year to year.

To our eyes, the moon appears to “wobble” in space because of its tilt, velocity and shape of its orbit, taking 18.6 years to complete. Half of the cycle suppresses tide activity by making high tides lower than normal and low tides higher than normal.

But the other half exacerbates them — and therein lies the problem.

The moon is currently in the “tide-amplifying part of its cycle,” according to NASA, but by mid-2030, when this intensified series returns, people living in coastal cities may be dealing with severe floods “every day or two.”

Why? This natural yet amplified lunar cycle will be coupled with higher sea levels caused by global warming, triggering a decade of dramatic surges in the number of days with high-tide flooding on nearly all mainland coastlines in the U.S., Hawaii and Guam.

High-tide flooding, also known as “nuisance” or “sunny day” floods, is projected to exceed thresholds across the nation more often and occur in clusters that last a month or longer, the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team of the University of Hawaii said. Their study was published last month in the journal Nature Climate Change.

These kinds of floods are already plaguing many cities on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported more than 600 such floods, which occur when high tides reach about 2 feet above the daily average “and start spilling onto streets or bubbling up from storm drains.”

The problem, researchers say, is that these events are often considered less important or damaging than floods caused by hurricanes, for example, because they involve smaller amounts of water.

But “it’s the accumulated effect over time that will have an impact,” study lead author Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, said in a statement. “If it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can’t keep operating with its parking lot under water. People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue.”

What’s more, these repeated events will eventually occur in clusters in about a decade when the moon’s amplified wobble merges with future higher seas, the team says. The dangerous cocktail is predicted to spark increased high-tide flooding over a short period of time, creating extreme months of activity.

For instance, during a five-year period with an expected 100 high-tide flooding days, the six most severe months will experience seven to 10 high-tide flooding days per month on average, according to the study. The remaining months will have less than one high-tide flooding day per month on average. In a scenario where there will be 200 high-tide flooding days over five years, the six most severe months will experience 10 to 17 high-tide flooding days on average, in comparison.

The team discovered these “tipping points” by analyzing 89 tide monitoring stations in every coastal state and territory except Alaska. From there, they created models by combining that data with NOAA’s sea level rise predictions, flooding thresholds and information on celestial cycles and weather events.

Just as engineers plan for rare, extreme weather events, their efforts should also focus on these smaller, clustered episodes occurring in shorter periods.

“From a planning perspective, it’s important to know when we’ll see an increase,” study co-author Ben Hamlington of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California and leader of NASA’s Sea Level Change Team, said in a statement. “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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NASA Warns Moon's Wobble Might Drastically Affect Tide, Causing Severe Flooding

Nature World News 14 July, 2021 - 02:23am

Hurricanes and other extreme weather events have already become more frequent and severe due to climate change throughout the planet. However, there is a smaller, less visible menace on the horizon that may devastate America's coastlines.

High-tide floods, often known as "nuisance floods," occur in coastal locations when tides rise beyond the daily normal high tide by roughly 2 feet (0.6 meters) and begin to flood streets or seep down storm drains. True to their moniker, these floods are more of a nuisance than a disaster, inundating streets and houses, forcing businesses to close, and overflowing cesspools - but the longer they persist, the more damage they may cause.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), more than 600 of these floods occurred in the United States in 2019. However, a new NASA-led study predicts that nuisance floods in the United States would become considerably more common as early as the 2030s, with most of the country's coastline likely to suffer three to four times as many high-tide flood days each year for at least a decade.

The study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on June 21, warns that these extra flood days will not be evenly distributed throughout the year but will likely cluster together over a few months; coastal areas that currently experience two or three floods per month may soon face a dozen or more.

According to the study, if communities don't start planning for these longer coastal flood seasons now, they will cause severe disruptions to lives and livelihoods.

In a statement, main research author Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii, stated, "It's the cumulative effect over time that will have an influence. A firm cannot operate with its parking lot underwater if it floods 10 or 15 times each month. People lose their employment as a result of their inability to get to work. As a result, sewage ponds have become a public health concern."

This anticipated rise in flood days is due to several causes.

For starters, there's the issue of rising sea levels. As the atmosphere warms due to global warming, glacier ice melts at an unprecedented rate, releasing massive volumes of meltwater into the ocean. As a result, according to NOAA, worldwide average sea levels have increased 8 to 9 inches (21 to 24 cm) since 1880, with roughly a third of it occurring in the previous 25 years.

Depending on how effectively humans limit greenhouse gas emissions in the following decades, sea levels might rise anywhere from 12 inches (0.3 m) to 8.2 feet (2.5 m) over 2000 levels by 2100.

While increasing sea levels alone will increase the frequency of high tide floods, the cosmos - especially the moon - will aid them.

The moon affects the tides, but the strength of its pull varies from year to year; the moon's orbit has a "wobble," which causes it to shift slightly in relation to Earth on an 18.6-year cycle. As a result, the moon suppresses Earth's tides for half of the cycle, resulting in lower high tides and higher low tides. According to NASA, tides are magnified for the other half of the cycle, with stronger high tides and lower low tides.

We are presently in the tide-amplifying phase of the cycle; the next tide-amplifying phase begins in the mid-2030s. According to the researchers, by that time, global sea levels will have risen sufficiently to make those higher-than-normal high tides extremely problematic.

According to the study, high tide flooding would grow fast throughout the whole US coast due to the combined effects of sea-level rise and the moon cycle. According to the authors, high tide flooding will shift "from a localized concern to a national issue with most US coasts being affected" in less than a decade.

In addition, other aspects of the climatic cycle, such as El Nio occurrences, will cause these flood days to cluster around specific times of the year, culminating in months of persistent coastal flooding.

According to the authors, as frightening as this pattern may appear, it is critical to comprehend for planning purposes.

"Knowing that all of your occurrences are grouped in a certain month, or that you could have more severe floods in the second half of a year than the first - that's useful knowledge," NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory research co-author Ben Hamlington said in a statement.

Extreme weather events may get the attention of the national media as they wreak havoc on America's shores, but high tide flooding will soon be difficult to ignore. Therefore, the authors concluded that it is best to begin preparing now before it is too late.

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Moon's 'wobble' in the 2030s will cause 'decade of dramatic increases in flood numbers,' NASA says

USA TODAY 13 July, 2021 - 06:12pm

NASA says rising sea levels mixed with the increase of high tides because of the moon's orbit will cause major flooding throughout the U.S. coastline.

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May’s full moon and a lunar eclipse coincided to create a phenomenon known as a “super flower blood moon.” Credit: Declan Bowring via Storyful Storyful

Thanks to a "wobble" in the moon's orbit and rising sea levels, every coast in the United States will face rapidly increasing high tides that will start "a decade of dramatic increases in flood numbers" in the 2030s.

The conclusion, which was published in the Nature Climate Change journal by NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii, has to do with the moon's orbit, which takes 18.6 years to complete according to NASA.

For half of that time period, Earth's regular daily tides are suppressed with high tides at a low average and low tides happening at a higher rate. In the other half of the cycle, the opposite occurs.

"High tides get higher, and low tides get lower. Global sea-level rise pushes high tides in only one direction – higher. So half of the 18.6-year lunar cycle counteracts the effect of sea-level rise on high tides, and the other half increases the effect," NASA explains.

The moon is currently in its tide-amplifying cycle right now, and there currently is no cause of concern of dramatic flooding occurring given sea levels in the U.S. haven't risen much. However, when the moon returns to the tide-amplifying cycle, the seas will have had nearly a decade to rise. 

"The higher seas, amplified by the lunar cycle, will cause a leap in flood numbers on almost all U.S. mainland coastlines, Hawaii, and Guam. Only far northern coastlines, including Alaska’s, will be spared for another decade or longer because these land areas are rising due to long-term geological processes," NASA said on Wednesday.

How severe will the floods be? In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported more than 600 floods that year.

By the mid-2030s, scientists expect three to four times that amount. 

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said the combination of the moon's gravitation pull, which causes tides in the first place, and climate change are the reasons behind the expected flooding.

"Low-lying areas near sea level are increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse,” Nelson said in the statement.

The study also determined some floods could happen in clusters, meaning they may last over a month. Depending on the positioning of the moon, sun and Earth, cities may experience a flood in consecutive days or every other day.

While the amount of water flooding won't be as much as a hurricane does, having such frequent flooding can result in heavy economic damages.

"If it floods 10 or 15 times a month, a business can’t keep operating with its parking lot underwater. People lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. Seeping cesspools become a public health issue," said Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and the lead author of the study.

NASA hopes the release of their findings will help potentially impacted cities take measures in order to prevent too much damage.

Rising sea levels already have made living on the coast risky, as experts say it may have played a role in the collapse of a condo building in Surfside, Florida.

© 2021 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Satellite Information Network, LLC.

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