‘Wobbling’ Moon Could Cause Surge In Devastating Floods, NASA Warns

by : Cameron Frew on : 15 Jul 2021 12:45
'Wobbling' Moon Could Cause Surge In Devastating Floods, NASA WarnsPexels/PA Images

Our moon is a bit wobbly, and it might cause devastating worldwide flooding in the coming decades, according to NASA.

The moon’s wobbling was first reported back in 1728. While it takes nearly 19 years to fully complete a single wobble, it affects its gravitational pull on the Earth and subsequently, our tides and the behaviour of sea levels across the globe.


Halfway through the wobble cycle, high tides are lower than normal and low tides are higher than normal. However, we’re now in the latter half – the tide-amplifying stage, with global sea levels rising higher and higher, made worse by global warming already increasing sea levels.

Floods are expected to increase in the 2030s. (PA Images)PA Images

A new study led by the NASA Sea Level Change Science Team from the University of Hawaii, published in the Nature Climate Change journal, found that by the mid-2030s, ‘every US coast will experience rapidly increasing high-tide floods, when a lunar cycle will amplify rising sea levels caused by climate change’.

In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recorded more than 600 high-tide floods across the US.


While high tides are approaching flooding thresholds at the moment, ‘it will be a different story the next time the cycle comes around to amplify tides again’ in the next decade, NASA said.

The increase floods will be caused by a wobble in the moon. (PA Images)PA Images

‘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 US 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,’ it explained.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson warned that it’s the low-lying areas near sea level becoming ‘increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse… the combination of the Moon’s gravitational pull, rising sea levels, and climate change will continue to exacerbate coastal flooding on our coastlines and across the world’.

The impact of floods could have a severe impact over time. (PA Images)PA Images

Phil Thompson, an assistant professor at the University of Hawaii and lead author of the new study, said the ‘accumulated effect over time will have an impact… 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’.

While the results of the study may be a bit frightening, it’s a tremendous resource for urban planners who’ll now be able to plan for floods and other extreme events.

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Cameron Frew

Entertainment Editor at UNILAD. 2001: A Space Odyssey is the best film ever made, and Warrior is better than Rocky. That's all you need to know.

Topics: Science, Climate Change, floods, Moon, NASA, no-article-matching, Now, Space


Nature Climate Change and 1 other
  1. Nature Climate Change

    Rapid increases and extreme months in projections of United States high-tide flooding

  2. NASA

    Study Projects a Surge in Coastal Flooding, Starting in 2030s