WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- NASA says the moon’s wobble in its orbit may cause extreme flooding by the 2030s.
- The flooding may displace 100 million people worldwide.
- Climate change can exacerbate the effect of the lunar wobble.
NASA says a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit, along with rising sea levels caused by climate change, is causing rapidly increasing high tide levels on every coast in the U.S
The Nature Climate Change journal recently published a new study from NASA and the University of Hawaii warning that the imminent changes in the moon’s orbit could cause record flooding on Earth in the coming decade.
Researchers mapped the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) sea-level rise scenarios, astronomical cycles, and flooding thresholds, and found that by the 2030s, American coastal cities could experience flooding that could damage infrastructure and displace communities when the moon “wobble” starts.
The moon’s wobble is a natural occurrence. The moon’s orbit affects the tides about every 18.6 years, but they aren’t usually dangerous.
NASA explains that in half of the Moon’s 18.6-year cycle, high tides on Earth are lower than usual, and low tides are higher than usual. “In the other half of the cycle, high tides are 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,” explained NASA.
However, scientists say the next high tide floods could be more intense and more frequent than ever before due to rising sea levels caused by climate change.
In 2019, more than 600 such floods occurred, according to a report by NOAA. Scientists are expecting that number to multiply four times in the mid-2030s as sea levels continue to rise as another decade progresses.
The study predicts that these floods will often exceed the country’s flooding thresholds. Depending on the position of the moon, Earth, and sun, the floodings can also occur in clusters lasting over a month, and as frequently as daily or every other day.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson warned that the risk is higher for people in low-lying areas near sea level.
The floodings can cause hundreds of thousands of square miles of U.S coastline to be uninhabitable, causing over 100 million people worldwide to be displaced by the end of the century.
The researchers hope that their findings will prompt authorities and individuals to prevent as much damage as possible before it’s too late. Lead study author Phil Thompson said the real damage of the high tide floods lies in their frequency. He said businesses can’t keep operating with their parking lot underwater, and people lose their jobs because they can’t get to work. Seeping cesspools can also be harmful to health.
Source: CBS News