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The Science Behind Moon Wobble and Its Effect

By Shiwani PandeyNovember 23, 2022
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What is the Moon Wobble and Why We Should Be Worried?

We all know that the Moon revolves around the Earth. It is because of the Moon we witness tides. You will be surprised to know that our natural satellite follows a tilted orbital plane to rotate around the Earth. It means that the velocity of this celestial body differs. This is called the wobbling of the Moon.

This Moon wobble can affect the tide formation on the Earth. Even though it happens for a few years and then stops on a regular basis. What is the side effect of this Moon’s behaviour? Let us find out.

What is the Moon Wobble?

We all know that the planets move around the Sun following elliptical orbits. An elliptical orbit is different from a circular one. It has two focal points whereas a circular orbit has only one centre.

In the same context, our Moon also follows an elliptical orbit to rotate around the Earth. It means that the Moon is sometimes closer to the Earth and sometimes far away. According to Kepler’s Law, the speed of the Moon will be higher when it is closer to the Earth and lower when it is drifting apart.

Due to this phenomenon, the velocity of the Moon changes in a full revolution. Such change results in the wobble effect. Scientists have found that the Moon experiences this effect at a regular interval of 18.6 years. They explain that this effect is similar to a spinning coin slowly reducing its speed and experiencing wobbling vibrations before falling flat.

The Wobble Effect on Tides

This Moon wobble can cause the tides in the oceans to change their intensities. According to past experience, scientists have measured and concluded that the first half of this period will experience lower high tides than the conventional mark. Similarly, the low tides will be higher than usual.

In the same context, the next half of this wobble period will create higher high tides and lower low tides. It means that the coastal areas may get flooded during the high tides multiple times. Similarly, the low tides will cause a significant reduction in the sea level resulting in trapping ships in the seabed closer to the ports. These predictions are concluded from the NASA Moon wobble flooding publications.

The Wobbling Effect May Result in Tidal Waves

Scientists have also concluded that the Moon wobble is causing more impact now, especially, on the tides. We have seen records of flooding in different areas. Is it because of climate change? Well, partially it is. The rising of the sea levels due to global warming has contributed to the wobbling effect of the Moon.

It is forecasted that these floods will be more frequent in the next decade as the higher high tide session is yet to arrive. Hence, the 2030s will be tougher for the coastal areas, it seems. As mentioned earlier, this Moon effect will cause higher high tides resulting in a record height achieved by the tides.

This tidal flow of water will invade the mainland near the coastal areas. In fact, the seawater gushing into the rivers will also cause immense issues in the river basins. The occurrence of floods will automatically increase. The meteorological departments of the coastal countries are preparing for these upcoming disastrous effects of Moon wobbling.

High and Low Tides Due to the Moon

High and Low Tides Due to the Moon

Also Read: Phases of Moon and How to Identify Them

Drastic Effect on Daily Lives

Consider Florida, one of the busiest cities across the globe. The alarming increase in the high tide levels can flood the city easily. We have already witnessed what a tsunami can do. Now, imagine the entry of seawater twice a day!

The entire belt of coastal areas across the world will be hit severely. Water will enter and devastate the infrastructure. The whole world of the people living in this area will come to a standstill. If the estimated effect is higher than normal then this can be the consequence of this wobbling effect.

It will also trigger the inflow of water into the rivers, as mentioned earlier. Hence, the river water level will also rise and might cause a backflow. Are we prepared for such events? What will we do?

Ben Hamlington, a NASA expert and one of the authors of this study of the Moon’s wobbling effect, suggested that the coastal areas may experience as many as 15 floods a month in the upcoming years. These tidal floods can occur in clusters and might end up for a month considering the position of the Moon. In fact, meteorologists expect that a flood can occur every day.

The thought of the wobbling Moon effect causing tidal floods is scary. If it happens, it will disrupt the normal life flow in the coastal areas. The major coastal cities will be affected the most. This effect seems to be worsening due to the increasing level of the oceans and seas due to global warming.

Precautions for Tidal Floods

It is a myth that the Moon changes orbit. It only changes its pace due to the tilted elliptical path followed to revolve around the Earth. It means that the tidal floods become more predictable. With the previous date we have, we can forecast the effect to some extent.

Countries with coastlines are preparing for such natural events. We don’t know how high the sea level will rise. It is expected that there will be no tsunamis in these tidal floods. Hence, seawater will seep in and flood the streets. The backwaters, estuaries, and canals will be full of water.

Scientists are predicting the effect of these tidal floods. The disaster management of the coastal cities is gearing up with proper precautions. People are being educated and told to take necessary measures. It will be quite tough for a government to reach out to the devastated areas with rescue missions. So, we need to brace ourselves before it happens.