A forthcoming ‘moon wobble’ will cause devastating flooding, Nasa says

July 14, 2021 at 07:44PM
Hurricane Irma Extreme Image of Storm Striking Miami, Florida
Hurricane Irma seen striking Miami, Florida with 100+ mph winds and destructive storm surge. (Credits: Getty Images)

Coastal cities in the US will be battered by surging tidal floods in ten years’ time, because of an uptick in lunar movement.

The moon controls how high the Earth’s tides are with its gravity, on a monthly basis.

But Nasa’s Sea Level Change Science Team have calculated that a lunar cycle in the mid-2030s will amplify rising sea levels from climate change, causing coastal communities to come under huge pressure from the rising waters.

‘Global sea level rise will have been at work for another decade. 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,’ said a Nasa news release.

Scientists at Nasa took into account all possible known flood causes, both oceanic and astronomical, and calculated that the middle of the next decade would create a perfect storm of flood dangers.

While high-tide floods aren’t as instantly catastrophic as storm surges like the one that hit New Orleans in 2004, they can be just as destructive because of their consistent nature.

‘It’s the accumulated effect over time that will have an impact,’ said Nasa’s Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii’s department of oceanography.

‘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.’

The Nasa study, published in Nature Climate Change, predicted that some US cities would see floods every day or two by the 2030s, with some floods occurring in clusters that could last a month or longer.

The US’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration already reported more than 600 high-tide floods in 2019.

While the moon is well known for having monthly cycles as it orbits around the Earth, it is less well known for its 18.6-year cycle of the angle of its rotation.

An uptick in lunar movement in the 2030s will cause a surge in tidal floods, according to Nasa (Getty)
An uptick in lunar movement in the 2030s will cause a surge in tidal floods, according to Nasa (Getty)

It’s currently in the amplifying half of rotation, which makes high tides higher and low tides lower.

But sea level outside most US cities is low enough that the high tides won’t be a problem.

When climate change causes sea level rises, however, the amplifying stage of the moon could present a problem – most likely in the mid-2030s.

The amplifying stage of the moon’s rotation has a ‘wobble’, known about for centuries, that can dramatically increase the height of the Earth’s oceans for a period of time.

Whether climate change will combine with this ‘wobble’ to have dire consequences remains to be seen.

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