Coastal cities in North America may face catastrophic flooding in the next 15 to 20 years, thanks to climate change and a “wobble” in the moon’s orbit.
Yes, you read that right: the moon is twerking its way into destroying the earth and NASA says we should be concerned.
The latest study from both NASA and the University of Hawaii warns about the moon’s orbital balance problem in the latest issue of the Nature Climate Change journal.
While that wobble isn’t new — it was first discovered in 1728 — it’s the fact that its exaggerated affect on the tides will combine with rising sea levels to create a situation that will leave most coastal cities under water.
On its own, the moon’s orbital shake isn’t dangerous. It happens in cycles every 18.6 years and is responsible for both lower-than-normal and higher-than-normal tides during those times.
“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 explains in the journal. “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.”
But with the much higher sea levels we face now, due to climate change, the combination could be deadly. “In 2019, NOAA reported more than 600 such floods,” according to CBS News. “Scientists expect three to four times that amount in the mid-2030s, after sea-level rise has another decade to progress.”
So why will this affect U.S. Coastal cities more than the rest of the world? It all has to do with the combined position of the earth, moon, and sun. During certain alignments of season and time of day, these U.S. coastlines would face flooding several times a week or even every single day.
“Low-lying areas near sea level are increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson remarked. “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.”
With enough warning, people can escape these types of situations that may not come all at once, but slowly accumulate over time. But, as the journal’s lead author, Phil Thompson, states, this will affect public health and the economy.
“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.”