Climate change and the moon team up to create record flooding on Earth – .

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Climate change and the moon team up to create record flooding on Earth – .


As of this writing, at least 120 people have been confirmed dead from severe flooding in Western Europe. It is tragically likely that when this story is over, the number will be significantly higher. A spokesman for the German Weather Service (DWD) told CNN that in some areas there had not been as much precipitation in 100 years.

These extreme weather events are inextricably linked to climate change, noted politicians and experts. But there is another culprit, one above, which also affects the weather: an “oscillation” in the orbit of the Moon.

Indeed, just days before the floods, a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change by scientists at NASA and the University of Hawaii warned that Earth could experience record flooding in the mid-1930s due to changes in the orbit of the Moon.

“Climate change causes sea level rise which in turn increases the rate of flooding at high tide,” Harvard professor and astronomer Avi Loeb told Salon via email. “The gravitational force of the Moon pulls water in the oceans in its direction. The force of the Moon’s pull changes from year to year, as the Moon “wobbles” in its orbit, slightly altering its position relative to the Earth on a rhythmic 18.6-year cycle. In one half of the cycle, Loeb explained, the force of the moon on Earth causes low tides to grow and high tides to decrease; during the other half, high tides increase and low tides decrease.

“We are currently seeing part of the tidal amplification cycle and the next tidal amplification cycle begins in the mid-1930s,” Loeb pointed out. “By then, global sea level will have risen enough to make these higher-than-normal tides particularly troublesome. “

But while the Moon’s orbit isn’t something humans can easily control, man-made climate change is the other half of the equation.

“Only if we take a strong stand against climate change can we prevent extreme weather conditions like the one we are experiencing,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Environment Minister Svenja Schulze has publicly stated that “climate change has happened in Germany”.


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“We will face such events again and again,” Armin Laschet, Prime Minister of North Rhine-Westphalia and candidate for Merkel’s succession to German Chancellor, said in a statement. “And that means we need to speed up climate protection measures, at European, federal and global levels, because climate change is not confined to one state. “

While the extent to which climate change has contributed to historic flooding remains uncertain, Laschet’s warning in particular is unmistakable.

Indeed, climatologists say that a perfect storm of variables is building up to jeopardize coastal cities.

“Climate change is inexorably raising sea level and this is what increases harmful flooding as well as all storm surges and coastal erosion,” wrote Kevin Trenberth, climatologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, at Salon. “But the biggest effects come when things are lined up: high tide, a major storm with a shore storm wind component that collects water along the coast and then adds big waves. The process is highly nonlinear and the most important effects are with large waves at very high tide. “

Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Department of Global Ecology told Salon via email that the planet has natural variability when it comes to heat waves or cold waves, wet or dry periods. “It’s the extremes that take us, not the change in average conditions. Coral bleaching occurs when an ocean heat wave is exacerbated by global warming – turning an event that corals have adapted to into one that they are not ready to face, ”Caldeira said.

What the new study reminds us of, he added, is the presence of an 18.6-year lunar cycle of rising and falling tidal amplitudes. “This 18.6-year cycle, mapped over daily monthly cycles and the like, allows us to predict when sea level rise caused by melting glaciers and thermal expansion of seas will be most likely. to have an impact on human and natural systems, ”he noted.

Caldeira expressed hope that our knowledge of the looming coastal city disaster will compel policy makers to take the necessary action to offset climate change. Unfortunately, he noted, “the seas rise and fall with natural cycles, but human interference in the climate system causes the seas to move in only one direction – and that direction is upward.”

He added: “It will probably take tens of thousands of years, at least, before nature can completely reverse human influence on sea level.”

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