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.
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.
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