NASA researchers believe that the fluctuation of the lunar orbit, combined with rising ocean levels, will lead to record floods in the near future.
Researchers from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the University of Hawaii warn that the upcoming changes in the Moon’s orbit, combined with rising ocean levels, could lead to record flooding on the East and West coasts of the United States in the next decade.
A study conducted by the NASA Sea level Change group at the University of Hawaii and published last month in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change says that regularly occurring changes in the Moon’s near-Earth orbit will lead to a rise in the water level in the oceans along the American coast.
The authors of the study say that the so-called “oscillation” of the lunar orbit is part of an 18.6-year cycle, first recorded back in 1728. During the first half of the cycle, the Moon contributes to lower tides and higher tides, while in the next half, higher tides and deeper tides occur on Earth.
This phenomenon is expected to reach its peak in the mid-2030s and will occur simultaneously with the increase in coastal flooding due to rising ocean levels associated with the effects of climate change. A report released on Wednesday by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that last year, record high levels of coastal flooding were recorded in the United States.
NOAA reports that flooding at high tide, often called “unpleasant” or “flooding on a sunny day,” regularly occurs in many coastal settlements, leading to flooding of streets, courtyards and businesses. In addition, the agency notes that from May 2020 to April 2021, twice as many flood days were recorded in coastal American settlements as 20 years ago. They expect that this trend of record high tides will continue until April 2022 and will be observed in the coming decades.
NOAA oceanographer and author of the NASA study, William Sweet, said in an interview with the Washington Post that the combination of the Moon’s orbit fluctuation and sea level rise will be “a kind of double blow”. This means that even more severe flooding is expected on the coast if the coastlines are not strengthened in time.
Ben Hamlington, head of NASA’s Sea level change team, says that the authorities of settlements and urban planners need to prepare for more severe floods in the future.