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Rising Sea Level, Moon's Wobble Will Cause Coastal Flooding in US in 2030s: NASA

The study explains that the reason behind simultaneous flooding in cities on the widely separated coastlines is the wobble in the moon’s orbit. (Image for representation/Shutterstock)

The study explains that the reason behind simultaneous flooding in cities on the widely separated coastlines is the wobble in the moon’s orbit. (Image for representation/Shutterstock)

Moon’s gravitational pull armed with rising sea levels and climate change will worsen coastal flooding.

A study led by NASA scientists has predicted that the US coastal regions will record a surge in high tide floods in the 2030s. The scientists attribute the prediction to a wobble in the moon’s orbit that will increase the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth, which will amplify high tides, coupled with an increase in sea levels caused by climate change.

In 2019, US Atlantic and Gulf coasts reported more than 600 cases of flooding according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States. These floods are known as high tide floods and caused by high tides. Climate change has increased the sea levels so much so that even high tides are enough to cause flooding in coastal regions.

Moon’s gravitational pull armed with rising sea levels and climate change will worsen coastal flooding, says NASA head Bill Nelson in a statement. According to the NASA chief, low-lying areas are at increased risk and their suffering is only going to get worse. However, he also added that NASA’s Sea Level Change Team is providing critical information for planning and protection.

According to the lead author of the study, Phil Thompson, high-tide floods will still not be hurricanes but “it’s the accumulated effect over time that will have an impact,” he said in a statement. Thomson argues that businesses cannot function properly in areas that are facing floods from 10 to 15 times a month. The study was published on June 21 in Nature Climate Change.

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The study explains that the reason behind simultaneous flooding in cities on the widely separated coastlines is the wobble in the moon’s orbit. According to scientists, the wobble takes 18.6 years to complete and undergoes two phases of varied gravitational pulls. While one phase mitigates tides — by making high tides smaller and low tides higher -the other one amplifies them, making low tides lower and high tides shoot even higher. Coupled with the high sea levels expected in the 2030s, these effects will be amplified further.

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first published:July 13, 2021, 17:31 IST