The “wobbles” in the Moon’s orbit will combine with rising sea levels due to global warming to bring about “a decade of massive increases” in high-tidal coastal flooding across the United States in the 2030s, NASA warns In a new study.
why does it matter: Low-lying areas near sea level that are already at increased risk of flooding will see their situation “get worse,” according to a statement from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“The combination of the moon’s gravity, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coasts and around the world.”
From the note: Phil Thompson, associate professor at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the study, was published this month in The nature of climate change, he said, high-altitude flooding includes less water than hurricane storms.
- “If it gets flooded 10 or 15 times a month, the company can’t continue to operate with its parking lot inundated,” Thompson said.
- “People are losing their jobs because they can’t work. Leaking water wells have become a public health problem,” he added.
The Big Picture: Scientists have known about the oscillation in the Moon’s orbit, which takes 18.6 years to complete, since 1728.
- While such events are not dangerous in themselves, what is new is how one of the effects of the oscillation on the moon’s gravity – the main cause of Earth’s tides – will combine with rising sea levels caused by a warming planet, according to NASA.
What did they do: For the study, researchers found tipping points in flood numbers by analyzing 89 tide gauge sites in every state and coastal territory in the United States except Alaska.
- “They created a new statistical framework that maps widely used sea-level rise scenarios and flood thresholds, the number of times these thresholds have been exceeded annually, astronomical cycles, and statistical representations of other processes, such as El Niño events, that are known to influence tides,” according to NASA statement.
- The researchers expected the results until 2080.
playing condition: We are now in the tidal amplification part of this cycle. Along most of the coasts of the United States, sea level has not risen much, but high tides regularly cross flood thresholds.
Bottom line: By the next cycle of tidal amplification in the mid-1930s, oscillations in the Moon’s orbit will combine with rising sea levels.
- NASA warns that “the high seas, amplified by the lunar cycle, will lead to a jump in flood numbers on nearly all the coasts of the mainland United States, Hawaii, and Guam.”
- Far northern coasts, such as Alaska, will be preserved for another decade or more because these landmass are rising due to long-term geological processes.