Story at a glance

  • A study from NASA and the University of Hawaii details how a regular wobble in the moon’s orbit that takes 18.6 years to complete could lead to record flooding in the next decade as sea levels 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,” NASA said.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported more than 600 such floods in 2019. The new study estimates three to four times that amount by the 2030s.

Coastal cities around the U.S. will experience increasing high-tide flooding in the 2030s thanks to a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit coupled with rising sea levels caused by climate change, according to NASA. 

A study from NASA and the University of Hawaii published this month in the journal Nature Climate Change details how a regular wobble in the Moon’s orbit that takes 18.6 years to complete could lead to record flooding in the next decade as sea levels continue to rise. 

“In half of the Moon’s 18.6-year cycle, Earth’s regular daily tides are suppressed: High tides are lower than normal, and low tides are higher than normal,” NASA said

“In the other half of the cycle, tides are amplified: 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,” the space agency said. 


America is changing faster than ever! Add Changing America to your Facebook or Twitter feed to stay on top of the news.


The cycle is nothing new. Researchers have been aware of the wobble since the 1700s, and the moon is in its tide-amplifying cycle right now with no cause for concern of dramatic flooding at the moment. 

But researchers warn the moon will return to its tide-amplifying cycle in the mid-2030s, with global sea level rise will having been occurring 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. 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. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported more than 600 such floods in 2019. The new study estimates three to four times that amount by the 2030s. 

NASA says depending on the position of the moon, Earth and sun, some cities could experience floods every day or two. 


READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA

FORD UNVEILS NEW HYBRID PICKUP THAT GETS 40 MPG FOR UNDER $20,000

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 3,000 YEARS, TASMANIAN DEVILS HAVE BEEN BORN ON AUSTRALIAN MAINLAND

‘EXTINCT’ GIANT TORTOISE FOUND IN GALAPAGOS

CONSERVATIONISTS THRILLED AS ‘EXTINCT’ WILD RIVER PREDATOR POPS UP

KIA INTRODUCES NEW ELECTRIC VEHICLE THAT CAN CHARGE IN LESS THAN 20 MINUTES

CHERNOBYL IS SHOWING SIGNS OF A POSSIBLE NEW NUCLEAR ACCIDENT, SCIENTISTS SAY

EPA ORDERS CONTROVERSIAL OIL REFINERY TO SHUT DOWN AFTER MULTIPLE ACCIDENTS AND ‘IMMINENT’ THREAT TO HEALTH


 

Published on Jul 15, 2021