By Dan Fastenberg
(Reuters) – U.S. coasts will face increasing flooding in the mid-2030s thanks to a regular lunar cycle that will magnify sea-level rise caused by climate change, according to research led by NASA scientists. .
A key factor identified by scientists is a regular “wobble” in the moon’s orbit, first identified in the 18th century, that takes 18.6 years to complete. The gravitational pull of the moon helps drive Earth’s tides.
In the middle of this lunar cycle, Earth’s regular daily tides ebb, with high tides lower than usual and low tides higher than usual. In the other half of the cycle, the situation is reversed, with higher high tides and lower low tides.
The expected floods will result from the combination of continued sea level rise associated with climate change and the arrival of an amplifying part of the lunar cycle in the mid-2030s, the researchers said.
“Deep down, we have a long-term rise in sea level associated with global warming. It is causing sea level to rise everywhere,” Ben Hamlington, leader of the NASA team and one of the leaders, told Reuters. study authors.
“This effect of the moon causes the tides to vary, so what we found is that this effect aligns with the underlying sea level rise, and that will cause flooding specifically in that time period from 2030 to 2040,” Hamlington said .
The researchers studied 89 tide gauge locations in every U.S. coastal state and territory, except Alaska. The effect of dynamics applies to the entire planet, except for the northern shores, such as Alaska.
The prediction pushes previous estimates of severe coastal flooding forward by about 70 years.
The study, published this month in the journal Nature Climate Change, was led by members of a NASA science team that tracks sea level change. The study focused on the coasts of the United States, but the findings are applicable to coasts around the world, NASA said.
“This is eye-opening for a lot of people,” Hamlington said. “It’s really critical information for planners. And I think there is a lot of interest in trying to get this information from science and scientists into the hands of planners.”
Hamlington said city planners should plan accordingly.
“A particular building or piece of infrastructure, you might want to stay there for a very long period of time, while you might want to protect or have access to something else for a few years.”
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