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Moon’s Wobble Effect

Context:

A recent study has brought into the focus the wobbling movement of the moon and how it could be a potential problem.

Relevance:

Prelims, GS-I: Geography

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is the wobbling movement of the moon?
  2. Why will this wobble become a problem?

What is the wobbling movement of the moon?

  • The moon also revolves around the Earth about once a month, and that orbit is a little bit tilted. To be more precise, the moon’s orbital plane around the Earth is at an approximate 5-degree incline to the Earth’s orbital plane around the sun. Because of that, the path of the moon’s orbit seems to fluctuate over time, completing a full cycle — sometimes referred to as a nodal cycle — every 18.6 years.
  • When the Moon makes its elliptical orbit, its velocity varies and alters causing our perspective of the “light side” to appear at slightly different angles. This is what it calls the Moon’s wobble or that is how it appears to our eyes.
  • It is a cyclical shift in the moon’s orbit, it is a regular swaying (Oscillation) in the moon’s orbit.
  • It was first documented way back in 1728. This wobble takes over an 18.6-year period to complete. It acts as a background of sea level rise.

Why will this wobble become a problem?

  • At certain points along the cycle, the moon’s gravitational pull comes from such an angle that it yanks one of the day’s two high tides a little bit higher, at the expense of the other. This does not mean that the moon itself is wobbling, nor that its gravity is necessarily pulling at our oceans any more or less than usual.
  • Other variables aside — and speaking very generally, since every region is different — the effect of the wobble could cause high tide levels at a beach to oscillate by 1 or 2 inches over the course of its long cycle.
  • High-tide flooding related to climate change is expected to break records with increasing frequency over the next decade, and people who want to accurately forecast that risk have to work with a lot of noisy data, including weather patterns, astronomical events and regional tidal variation.
  • The moon wobble is part of that noise, but it has always maintained its own slow, steady rhythm.

-Source: Indian Express

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September 2022
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