TL;DR (2-minute read)
- The moon “wobbling” every 18.6 years causes severe changes in our tidal systems, essentially making it larger and causing higher tides.
- With larger waves, coastal sides, like the Gulf of Mexico, are in serious trouble from being submerged and flooded.
- The best steps we can take to help solve these situations is to get more information on when and where these floods will be the most dangerous and start preparing for that.
What Happened to the Moon Recently?
It essentially “wobbled”. But this is not a new event. A “wobble”, according to NASA, is a cyclical shift in the moon’s orbit every 18.6 years, and they’ve been recording it since 1728. But how does this large, astronomical rock wobble? The moon rotates once on its own axis during each 27-day journey around the Earth. But as the moon makes its elliptical orbit, its velocity varies and alters that synchronicity, causing our perspective of the “light side” to appear at slightly different angles throughout any given month. In short, the moon wobbles.
What Does This Change Mean for Us?
It is safe to say it is not a good thing. What the wobble does is that it affects the moon’s gravitational pull and can either suppress or amplify ocean tides on earth. This is deadly to coastal communities as it may submerge it in water. The next cycle that is expected to amplify tides again will happen in the mid-2030s, NASA says. During that time, “a leap in flood numbers” is expected along the U.S. coastline. The Gulf of Mexico’s coastlines were specifically mentioned as an area of concern because they are more vulnerable to flooding due to relatively narrow sea-level distributions. “Low-lying areas near sea level are increasingly at risk and suffering due to the increased flooding, and it will only get worse,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “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. NASA’s Sea Level Change Team is providing crucial information so that we can plan, protect, and prevent damage to the environment and people’s livelihoods affected by flooding.”
What Can We Do to Prevent Such Problems?
We should be more prepared. “Planning, adaptation and even environmental justice issues should have started years ago,” the head of environmental sciences stated. But it essentially comes down to information. Knowing exactly when and what areas will be affected is what will help us prepare. Although we can not reverse the effects of the “wobble”, we can save countless businesses and lives through evacuation and other parameters.