The Perigee Moon aka “Supermoon”

Perigee Moon left, Apogee Moon, right. Picture Credit: Galileo Project, NASA

Thanks to WUWT regular “justthefacts” for assembling this story. – Anthony

There has been a lot in the news about, “Saturday’s full moon will be a super “perigee moon” — the biggest in almost 20 years. This celestial event is far rarer than the famed blue moon, which happens once about every two-and-a-half years.”

“The last full moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,” said Geoff Chester with the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington. “I’d say it’s worth a look.”

Full moons look different because of the elliptical shape of the moon’s orbit. When it’s at perigee, the moon is about 31,000 miles (50,000 km) closer to Earth than when it’s at the farthest point of its orbit, also known as apogee.

“Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the moon’s orbit,” the NASA website says.”
http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/03/18/nasa.moon/index.html?hpt=C2

Some of the reporting appears to be of questionable merit, e.g.;

“Nolle is responsible for coining the upcoming event, and he’s also responsible for the latest buzz sweeping the Internet about how the supermoon will affect the planet. On his website Astropro, Nolle warns Earth’s inhabitants to prepare themselves during the “supermoon risk window,” which ranges from March 16 – 22. During this time, Nolle claims there will be an increase in supreme tidal surges, magnitude 5 or higher earthquakes, and even volcanic activity.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/12/supermoon-cause-moonquakes-scientist-says/#ixzz1H43vFhS7 http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2011/03/12/supermoon-cause-moonquakes-scientist-says/#ixzz1H43vFhS7

Some of it a bit more reasoned:
“On Saturday night, the moon will arrive at perigee at 19:09 UT (3:09 p.m. Eastern Time). Its distance from the Earth at that moment will be 221,565 miles. But just over three years ago, on Dec. 12, 2008, which was also the night of a full moon, the moon reached perigee at 21:39 UT (4:39 p.m. Eastern Time) at a distance of 221,559 miles, about 6 miles closer than Saturday night’s perigee distance.”

“In addition, the near coincidence of Saturday’s full moon with perigee will result in a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides.

The highest tides will not, however, coincide with the perigee moon but will actually lag by up to a few days depending on the specific coastal location. For example, in Wilmington, N.C., the highest tide (5.3 feet) will be attained at 11:21 p.m. EDT on March 20.

In New York City, high water (5.9 feet) at The Battery comes at 10:49 p.m. EDT on March 21, while at Boston Harbor, a peak tide height of 12.2 feet comes at 1:31 a.m. EDT on March 22, almost 2 1/2 after perigee.

According to the Observer’s Handbook of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, residents of regions along the shores of the Bay of Fundy in eastern Canada, the 10- to 20-foot (3- to 6-meter) swell in the vertical tidal range makes it obvious when the moon lies near perigee, regardless of clear skies or cloudy.

Any coastal storm at sea around this time will almost certainly aggravate coastal flooding problems.

Such an extreme tide is known as a perigean spring tide, the word spring being derived from the German springen – to “spring up,” and is not, as is often mistaken, a reference to the spring season.

In contrast, later this year, on October 11, the full moon will closely coincide with apogee, its farthest point from the Earth. In fact, on that night the moon will appear 12.3 percent smaller than it will appear this weekend.”
http://www.space.com/11172-supermoon-full-moon-closest.html

The phenomenon in question appears to be a combination of Lunar Precession;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_precession

and Lunar Phases;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_phase

This is one of an array Lunar and Luni-Solar Cycles that result in Tidal Forces;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tidal_force

that result in Earth’s Ocean Tide;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide

and Atmospheric Tide;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_tide

Other cycles including the Lunar Node;
“Every 27.5 days the Moon completes a ‘nodal’ cycle. The Sun, Moon, and planets have a similar background of stars in their cycles but the Moon’s trajectory is 5 degrees from that of the Sun. This means that there are two points at which these two apparent orbits seem to cross. These are known as the ascending, or North node (or the Dragon’s head) and the descending or South node (Dragon’s tail).””The lunar nodes precess rather quickly around the ecliptic, completing a revolution (called a draconitic or nodical period, the period of nutation) in 6793.5 days or 18.5996 years (note that this is not the saros eclipse cycle)”:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_node

Saros Cycles
“The Saros cycle of 6585.322 days is useful for predicting the times at which nearly identical eclipses will occur, and derives from three periodicities of the lunar orbit: the synodic month, the draconic month, and the anomalistic month. For an eclipse to occur, either the Moon must be located between the Earth and Sun (for a solar eclipse) or the Earth must be located between the Sun and Moon (for a lunar eclipse). This can happen only when the Moon is new or full, respectively, and repeat occurrences of these lunar phases are controlled by the Moon’s synodic period, which is about 29.53 days.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saros_cycle

and the Inex Cycle:
“The inex is an eclipse cycle of 10,571.95 days (about 29 years minus 20 days).”

“Unlike the saros cycle, the inex is not close to an integer number of anomalistic months so successive eclipses are not very similar in their appearance and characteristics. From the remainder of 0.67351, being near 2/3, every third eclipse will have a similar position in the moon’s elliptical orbit and apparent diameter, so the quality of the solar eclipse (total versus annular) will repeat in these groupings of 3 cycles (87 years minus 2 months).”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inex

The combined cycles of the Saros and Inex Cycles can be visualized here:
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/image/SEpanoramaGvdB-big.JPG

And it gets even more complex than that because “A Saros series doesn’t last indefinitely because the three lunar months are not perfectly commensurate with one another. In particular, the Moon’s node shifts eastward by about 0.5º with each cycle. A typical Saros series for a solar eclipse begins when new Moon occurs ~18° east of a node. If the first eclipse occurs at the Moon’s descending node, the Moon’s umbral shadow will pass ~3500 km below Earth and a partial eclipse will be visible from the south polar region. On the following return, the umbra will pass ~300 km closer to Earth and a partial eclipse of slightly larger magnitude will result. After ten or eleven Saros cycles (about 200 years), the first central eclipse will occur near the south pole of Earth. Over the course of the next 950 years, a central eclipse occurs every 18.031 years (= Saros) but will be displaced northward by an average of ~300 km. Halfway through this period, eclipses of long duration will occur near the equator. The last central eclipse of the series occurs near the north pole. The next approximately ten eclipses will be partial with successively smaller magnitudes. Finally, the Saros series will end a dozen or more centuries after it began at the opposite pole. Due to the ellipticity of the orbits of Earth and the Moon, the exact duration and number of eclipses in a complete Saros is not constant. A series may last 1226 to 1550 years and is comprised of 69 to 87 eclipses, of which about 40 to 60 are central (i.e., total, hybrid or annular).
http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEsaros/SEsaros.html

The point here being that Earth’s tidal forces are ridiculously complex, and their potential impacts on Earth’s Ocean Tides;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide

the Thermohaline Circulation;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thermohaline_circulation

Oceanic Oscillations including El Nino/La Nina, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) and Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Ni%C3%B1o-Southern_Oscillation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacific_decadal_oscillation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlantic_Multidecadal_Oscillation

Ocean currents;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_current

and Atmospheric Tide;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_tide

are essentially impossible to predict given our limited understanding of Earth’s climate system. Predictions of “Supermoon” make for good headlines, but what it really shows is how little we understand about Earth’s astounding complex climate system. Happy moon watching.

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65 Responses to The Perigee Moon aka “Supermoon”

  1. Craig Moore says:

    There appears to be an imbalance between the left and right cheek in this full moon display.

  2. Queen1 says:

    Wow! This was really interesting. Who knew? More intriguing to me is who took all the time and trouble to figure out all that cycling…makes me tired thinking about it. Thanks, Anthony, for working so hard to make WUWT so much fun to read.

    REPLY: The credit goes to “justthefacts” a WUWT regular contributor who wrote this in addition to some of the reference pages. – Anthonyh

  3. Horace the Grump says:

    Well I’ll be jiggered….. Actually I don’t care… as long as the sun comes up in the morning it will be just fine… and all of the ‘end of the world’ enthusiasts can go on enjoying the fruits of their reality distortion field experiments…

  4. Jeff Alberts says:

    I’m sure there will be those who still think people are affected mentally by the phases of the moon.

  5. DirkH says:

    In German we also have the word Springflut for spring tide. Yes, it comes from springen = to jump.

  6. ew-3 says:

    Force of attraction between earth and moon (ignoring all other planets and the sun)

    F = G(m1*m2)/r^2

    The delta between the 2 values of r doesn’t make for a lot of difference.

  7. vukcevic says:

    Super-moon is having some effect, however no major Earthquakes as yet.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/gms.htm

  8. TrueNorthist says:

    It was already enormous last night, and it isn’t even full yet. And it’s coming right at us! Run for your life!!! I wonder if CNN etc will go wall to wall coverage? Nah, not with the new war ‘n stuff. ;)

    Great article JTF.

    Cheers!

  9. Clive says:

    Because of the AGW-induced winter snow storm () headed into southern Alberta from Montana we will miss the super moon tonight.

    Thanks for the interesting story justthefacts and WUWT.

  10. rbateman says:

    Jeff Alberts says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:09 pm
    I’m sure there will be those who still think people are affected mentally by the phases of the moon.

    The mentally ill are affected by any phenomena which complicates thier already troubled view. As you examine the midrange of population between mentally ill and sane, you will find a group that does in fact exhibit behavioral problems in sync with the Full Moon. Into that mix toss chronic drug users and those who believe the MSM hype without thinking about the real world.

    It’s all about behavior and paying attention.

  11. Stephen Brown says:

    At the time of writing it’s 23:00 GMT here in Southern England. The sky is gin-clear and the moon looks beautiful.
    No earthquakes, though.
    Disappointing, that.

  12. vukcevic says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm
    Super-moon is having some effect, however no major Earthquakes as yet.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/gms.htm

    and there won’t be because of this, just as there is no effect from solar/geomagnetic storms, as we have already discussed.

  13. Paul says:

    ruh roh. was that a super werewolf?

  14. vukcevic says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm
    vukcevic says: Super-moon is having some effect, however no major Earthquakes as yet.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/gms.htm
    and there won’t be because of this, just as there is no effect from solar/geomagnetic storms, as we have already discussed.
    ———————————————————————————–
    Pythia has spoken !

  15. Werner Brozek says:

    “ew-3 says:
    March 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Force of attraction between earth and moon (ignoring all other planets and the sun)

    F = G(m1*m2)/r^2

    The delta between the 2 values of r doesn’t make for a lot of difference.”

    True, however as I learned from other WUWT contributors, the effect on tides is larger since it varies inversely as the cube of the radius. The tragedy a week ago was terrible, but if it happened today, it would have been much worse due to the additional influence of the sun during a full moon on the tides.

  16. hunter says:

    ….and of course AGW made it worse than expected.

  17. vukcevic says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:45 pm
    “and there won’t be because of this, just as there is no effect from solar/geomagnetic storms, as we have already discussed.”
    Pythia has spoken !

    Just science: http://www.leif.org/research/Earthquakes-Perigee.png

  18. Bob Diaz says:

    See more proof of Global Warming!!!

    Ha Ha Ha :-)

  19. Mooloo says:

    “In addition, the near coincidence of Saturday’s full moon with perigee will result in a dramatically large range of high and low ocean tides.”

    Sigh. We really shouldn’t talk like this. I causes people to think that the fact that the moon is full is making the difference.

    The moon is full because it is at 180° to the sun. The large tides are because the moon is at 180° to the sun. The amount of light reflected back off the moon is totally irrelevant.

    We would get exactly the same tidal effect if the moon was aligned with the sun and the moon was therefore new.

    If we aren’t careful with this language the effect is people think the moon is actually closer during “full” moons, and therefore it has some magic effects. Like earthquakes and effecting crops. Sigh.

    (Next we have to work on explaining that the sun is not closer during summer.)

  20. Mooloo says:

    “affecting” crops. Sorry.

  21. Atomic Hairdryer says:

    Some years ago, not as long ago as 1993 I nipped outside my office in London and saw a much larger moon than the one I was photographing tonight. Not sure why, but it was early evening, winter and the moon was rising over a church at the end of the road. Sadly I didn’t have a camera with me but not seen the effect since. I’m assuming it was some weather effect that made it appear much larger, but would love to know what that was so I could shoot it if it happens again. Any ideas what might have caused that?

  22. Theo Goodwin says:

    Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm
    “just as there is no effect from solar/geomagnetic storms, as we have already discussed.”

    While you are here, could you briefly explain the likelihood of a Carrington Event and the likely damages caused by a Carrington Event?

  23. Tom T says:

    This is sure one loony article.

  24. rbateman says:

    So, SuperMoon is a full Moon at perigee.
    What’s a full Moon at apogee?

  25. a jones says:

    Atomic Hairdryer says:
    March 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    The moon close to the horizon always appears much larger than when high in the sky. It is a well known optical illusion due to the way the brain interprets what it thinks it is seeing: were you to measure it you would find it the same size in both cases.

    Kindest Regards

  26. Theo Goodwin says:
    March 19, 2011 at 7:09 pm
    While you are here, could you briefly explain the likelihood of a Carrington Event and the likely damages caused by a Carrington Event?
    A Carrington event is like a 100-yr flood. It could happen next week or a century away. such rare events cannot be ascribed a ‘likelihood’. The consequences may be severe: burned out transformers [that may take years to replace], and damaged satellites and malfunctioning GPS receivers. But no radiation damage to people on the ground, no climate shift, no earthquakes, or such. An accessible report on the consequences can be found here: http://books.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=12507&page=1

  27. stumpy says:

    Of interest, there were several papers published in the late 60′s detailing a correlation of large magnitude earthquakes with a full moon and perigee moon (especially when combined) – the crux of their results show the probability is of a large magnitude is notably increased during a perigean tide. Thats as far as it goes though! No idea how “robust” they are as I am not a statician – maybe someone would be able to comment on their veracity? Would make an interesting WUWT post maybe?

    http://www.opteryx.de/docs/tamrazyan/Tamrazyan_1968.pdf

    http://www.opteryx.de/docs/tamrazyan/Tamrazyan_1967.pdf

    also http://www.zunds-institut.de/earthquakes/lecture.htm (more recent)

    I recall there were also some papers published that discussed crustal movement due to the strong gravitational force (a magma tide so to speak that lifts the surface crust slightly), plus there are some theories that the shape of the atmosphere is also distorted by the gravitational force, which could have some effect on the climate (pressure remains the same, but the lapse rate is changed).

    Also I recall theories that the movement of the tide can affect wind patterns / air movement (surface friction / movement). I know from having lived on the coast I could always tell when the tide turned as the sea mist would roll in over the hills with it, but when the tide was going out it would sit out at sea.

    Not sure what work has been done to find lunar patterns in climate data? There are also galactic, planetary and solar cycles that effect the tide on longer time scales, but they have a much weaker effect than the moon itself.

  28. Tom Harley says:

    …and here in Broome, Western Australia, high tide at midday Tuesday is 10.56 metres, and low tide is 0.29 metres just over 6 hours later. I will be checking to see how close the water gets to the airport runway and BOM radar tower and new office building. It will be lapping the streets of the main shopping area ‘Chinatown’. Fortunately, there is no cyclone nearby at this time. This is equal to the previous highest tides I have seen a couple of times in the past 24 years.

  29. Northern Exposure says:

    11pm here and as luck would have it… a completely overcast sky with freezing rain.

    All I can make out is the very faded light from the moon filtering through the clouds, which tells me it must be of extraordinary brilliance in a clear sky, wow.

    I miss out on all the fun, dammit.

    *sigh*

  30. James Allison says:

    I live in Christchurch that was shaken by an earthquake on 4 September and another on 22 February. In NZ we have a guy called Ken Ring who has for many years used lunar cycles to predict long term weather forecasts. Subscribers to his site say his predictions are about 80% accurate. Ken Ring also uses lunar cycles to predict earthquakes. He predicted the 22 February quake that shook Christchurch and has also predicted a big quake this weekend same city. We hope that he has got it wrong.

  31. vukcevic says:

    Super-moon effect at the moment exactly as predicted, fortunately no major EQs.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/gms.htm

  32. Just The Facts says:

    James Allison says: March 19, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    In NZ we have a guy called Ken Ring who has for many years used lunar cycles to predict long term weather forecasts. Subscribers to his site say his predictions are about 80% accurate.”

    There do appear to be correlations between weather and lunar cycles, especially the Lunar Node:

    “With the culmination of the 18.6-year cycle of the Moon in 2006 and again in 2024-25, also called the Major Lunar Standstill, we are afforded the unique opportunity to observe the monthly, annual, and 18.6-year wanderings of the Moon. The 18.6-year cycle is caused by the precession of the plane of the lunar orbit, while this orbit maintains a 5° tilt relative to the ecliptic. At the peak of this cycle, the Moon’s declination swings from -28.8° to +28.8° each month. What this means is that each month for the years 2005-2007 and also 2023-2026, the Moon can be seen rising and setting more northerly and also more southerly than the solar extremes, and will transit monthly with altitudes which are higher in the sky than the summer Sun and lower in the sky than the winter Sun.”
    http://www.umass.edu/sunwheel/pages/moonteaching.html

    “Lunar cycles are varied and extremely complex and yet the moon has more effect on the earth than any other body except the Sun. Not only are ocean tides important in shaping the earth, and are affected more by the moon than the Sun, but tides in the air are important for determining the weather which in turn affects so many other variables from plants and crops, to animals and the economy.”

    “As was mentioned the 18.6 year cycle is important in determining the weather as is half of this, or 9.3 years. These cycles can be found in crop yields and in geological formations. However the moon is gradually receding from the earth which changes all of these periods very slowly. Professor Afanasiev of Moscow University has designed a method that he calls “Nanocycles method” of very accurately dating geological formations by finding the period which is presently 9.3 years and its interaction with the seasons. The 9.3 year cycle comes at the same time of year on average every 31 years because 9.3/.3 = 31. The nearest repeat of the seasons will actually happen after 28 years 2/3 of the time and 37 years 1/3 of the time. However this 31 years cyle of seasonal interaction of the is very sensitive to small changes because when the cycle was 9.2 years the interaction was in 9.2/.2 = 46 years. Professor Afanasiev has used this to accurately date deposits and so determine other geological cycles very accurately.”
    http://www.cyclesresearchinstitute.org/cycles-astronomy/lunar.shtml

    Science, “18.6-Year Earth Tide Regulates Geyser Activity” by John S. Rinehart, 1972
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1972Sci…177..346R

    Journal of Geophysical Research, “The 18.6-Year Cycle of Sea Surface Temperature in Shallow Seas Due to Variations in Tidal Mixing” by John W. Loder and Christopher Garrett, 1978:
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/1978/JC083iC04p01967.shtml

    Journal of Geophysical Research, “PERIODIC (18.6-YEAR) AND CYCIJC (11-YEAR) INDUCED DROUGHT AND FLOOD IN WESTERN NORTH AMERICA” by Robert Guinn Currie, 1984:
    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/1984/JD089iD05p07215.shtml

    Climatic Change “Reconstruction of seasonal temperatures in Central Canada since A.D. 1700 and detection of the 18.6- and 22-year signals” by Joel Guiot 1987:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/q76vw37g22557105/

    International Journal of Climatology “18.6-year luni-solar nodal and 10–11-year solar signals in rainfall in India”, by Kumares Mitra and S. N. Dutta, 1992:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.3370120807/abstract

    Journal of Geophysical Research, “High-Latitude Oceanic Variability Associated With the 18.6-Year Nodal Tide” by Thomas C. Royer, 1993:
    http://www.agu.org/journals/ABS/1993/92JC02750.shtml

    International Journal of Climatology, “Luni-solar 18.6- and solar cycle 10–11-year signals in USA air temperature records” by Robert G. Currie, 1993:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/joc.3370130103/abstract

    IBM Research Center “Moon-Earth-Sun: The oldest three-body problem” by Martin C. Gutzwiller, 1998:
    http://rmp.aps.org/abstract/RMP/v70/i2/p589_1

    Earth, Moon, and Planets “Lunar Influences On Climate” by Dario Camuffo, 2001:
    http://www.springerlink.com/content/nq3376562761675r/

    American Meteorological Society “Millennial Climate Variability: Is There a Tidal Connection? by Walter Munk, Matthew Dzieciuch and Steven Jayne, 2002:
    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/abs/10.1175/1520-0442%282002%29015%3C0370%3AMCVITA%3E2.0.CO%3B2

    Geophysical Research Letters “The impacts of the Luni-Solar oscillation on the Arctic oscillation” by Renato Ramos da Silva and Roni Avissar, 2005:
    http://www.duke.edu/~renato/RamosdaSilvaandAvissarGRL2005.pdf

    Geophysical Research Letters “Possible explanation linking 18.6-year period nodal tidal cycle with bi-decadal variations of ocean and climate in the North Pacific” by
    Ichiro Yasuda, Satoshi Osafune and Hiroaki Tatebe, 2006:
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2005GL025237.shtml

    Journal of Geophysical Research “The 18.6-year lunar nodal cycle and surface temperature variability in the northeast Pacific” by Stewart M. McKinnell and William R. Crawford, 2007:
    http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2007/2006JC003671.shtml

    Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers “Lunar nodal tide effects on variability of sea level, temperature, and salinity in the Faroe-Shetland Channel and the Barents Sea” by Harald Yndestad, William R. Turrell and Vladimir Ozhigin, 2008:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2008DSRI…55.1201Y

    Nature Geoscience “Significant contribution of the 18.6 year tidal cycle to regional coastal changes” by N. Gratiot, E. J. Anthony, A. Gardel, C. Gaucherel, C. Proisy & J. T. Wells, 2008:
    http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v1/n3/abs/ngeo127.html

    Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography “The influence of long tides on ecosystem dynamics in the Barents Sea” by Harald Yndestad, 2009:
    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2009DSR….56.2108Y

    However, when it comes to the demonstration of reliable predictive capacity based upon tidal forces , the evidence is not compelling. For example, the Farmer’s Almanac. “Founded in 1818, the Farmers’ Almanac’s timeless appeal has spanned three centuries, offering readers a trademark blend of long-range weather predictions, humor, fun facts, and valuable advice on gardening, cooking, fishing, conservation, and much more.”
    http://www.farmersalmanac.com/about/farmers-almanac-history/

    An August 30th, 2010 Associated Press article based on interviews with Farmer’s Almanac Editors Sandi Duncan and Peter Geiger, included this bold forecast:

    “Good news, winter haters: After record snowfall in the mid-Atlantic and unusually cold weather down South, the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a “kinder and gentler” winter.

    After eyeing the skies, tidal action and sunspots, the folks at the 194-year-old publication say in their 2011 edition going on sale Monday that it’ll be cold but nothing like last winter, when 49 states saw snow and it got so cold in Florida that iguanas fell out of trees.

    “Overall, it looks like it’s going to be a kinder and gentler winter, especially in the areas that had a rough winter last year,” said managing editor Sandi Duncan.”

    “The Farmers’ Almanac, which claims 80 to 85 percent accuracy and says it correctly forecast heavy snow in Middle Atlantic states last winter, bases its predictions on a secret mathematical formula using the position of the planets, tidal action of the moon and sunspots.

    Ed O’Lenic from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said the scientific community doesn’t accept tides, planetary alignment and sunspots as effective predictors of temperature or precipitation, but he stopped short of calling the almanac’s meteorological methods a bunch of hooey.

    “In science you have to have an open mind. Someday, someone could conceivably find some scintilla of evidence that it’s useful,” O’Lenic, chief of the operations branch, said of the almanac’s methodology. “For the time being, we have to stick with what produces results for us.”

    “For the record, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center anticipates a warmer-than-normal winter for the mid-Atlantic and Southeast and colder-than-normal weather in the Northwest. That puts it at odds with the almanac, which calls for mild temperatures in the Northwest and cold in the Southeast.”
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38906421/ns/weather/

    Not very encouraging, both the Farmer’s Almanac and NOAA;s Climate Prediction Center seem to have failed in their forecasts, but wait. There’s another Farmer’s Almanac, it’s the Old Farmer’s Almanac, published “since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has spoken to all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don’t like the question of weather left up in the air.”
    http://www.almanac.com/content/about-us

    And here is the Old Farmer’s Almanac Atlantic Corridor Annual Weather Summary for November 2010 to October 2011:

    “Winter will be colder and drier than normal, on average, with below-normal snowfall in New England and above-normal snowfall elsewhere. The coldest periods will be in mid-December, January, and mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in early January and mid- and late February.”
    http://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/region/us/2

    Hmmm, “with below-normal snowfall in New England” according to a January 28, 2011 Boston Globe article “In Somerville, New England’s most densely populated city, some snowbanks are so tall that they deflect the plume of snow cleared by plow trucks and send it sliding back down to the street, said Michael Meehan, a city spokesman. Between storms, crews have been trying to clear snow piles and dump them on basketball courts, while the real estate trust planning a 50-acre redevelopment at Assembly Square has offered the city private land for use as a snow farm.”
    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2011/01/28/region_isnt_taking_massive_snow_accumulation_lightly/

    In terms of The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecast that “The coldest periods will be in mid-December, January, and mid-February.” here are Weekly Mean Temperatures for the Northeast:

    Week-Ending | Mean Temperature | Anomaly
    20101204 | 33.76 | 0.90
    20101211 | 26.15 | -4.02
    20101218 | 23.80 | -4.01
    20101225 | 22.68 | -3.12
    20110101 | 24.45 | 0.35
    20110108 | 24.73 | 2.00
    20110115 | 22.28 | 0.37
    20110122 | 20.86 | -0.54
    20110129 | 19.89 | -1.64
    20110205 | 19.93 | -2.15
    20110212 | 20.84 | -2.22
    20110219 | 25.70 | 1.20
    20110226 | 26.21 | -0.20
    20110305 | 28.28 | -0.41
    http://www1.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/cmb/temp-and-precip/us-weekly/wkly.temps.dat

    I guess that you could call December 5th – 25th “mid-December”, but the first half of January had the warmest anomaly of an otherwise freezing winter and “mid-February” i.e. Feb 13th – 19th, was actually the only positive anomaly in the month of February.

    In summary, the forecasts of Farmer’s Almanac, Old Farmer’s Almanac and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center all appear to be highly suspect. The existence of tidal forces, and that they have influences Earth’s climate system does appear established, however the specific influences, how they interface with all of the other climactic variables and reliable predictive capacity leveraging tidal forces does not appear established.

  33. vukcevic says:
    March 20, 2011 at 1:06 am
    Super-moon effect at the moment exactly as predicted, no major EQs.
    As none were expected.

  34. vukcevic says:

    Hey Doc
    My projection for Saturday was there for all to see, and turned to be spot on.
    Yours was rubbish.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/gms.htm

  35. vukcevic says:

    Compare and conclude:
    vukcevic says:
    March 20, 2011 at 1:06 am
    Super-moon effect at the moment exactly as predicted, fortunately no major EQs.
    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/gms.htm
    Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 20, 2011 at 3:56 am
    vukcevic says:
    March 20, 2011 at 1:06 am
    Super-moon effect at the moment exactly as predicted, no major EQs.
    As none were expected.
    —————————-
    Word fortunately deliberately left out !

    [Vuc, this is just being petty - I see no reason to post it.
    Mods - please leave for a while so that Vukcevic sees it ~jove, mod]

    REPLY: Yes, Vuk is going off the rails, and headed for banned land unless he takes the high road – Anthony

  36. banjo says:

    Prince George : Ah Blackadder. It has been a wild afternoon full of strange omens. I dreamt that a large eagle circled the room three times and then got into bed with me and took all the blankets. And then I saw that it wasn’t an eagle at all but a large black snake. And also Duncan’s horses did turn up and eat each other. As usual.

  37. vukcevic says:
    March 20, 2011 at 5:15 am
    My projection for Saturday was there for all to see, and turned to be spot on.
    Yours was rubbish.

    My projection was that nothing extraordinary would happen, and nothing did.
    Perhaps you would take the moderator’s advice and tone down the unacceptable rhetoric…

    REPLY: Ditto that Leif, Vuk, take a 24 hour time out, chill – Anthony

  38. vukcevic says:

    Apologies to all concerned, and in particular to Anthony.
    I thank you for the hospitality and tolerance.

  39. Ed Boyle says:

    lthough current ‘scientific’ opinion is that a “blue moon” is only the number of times a full moon appears in one month of our present calendar, there really is such a thing as a “blue moon” which is a naturally occurring, but very rare, event.
    The one time I have been lucky enough to see a really blue moon was in the early fall in 1956. The moon was rising over the trees, and shining through a very fine mist, over the waters of Maryland’s Severn River. It was a pale blue in color, which remained for about a minute or two. As the moon rose further, this became more green in hue, and continued to change into the usual yellowish and then white moon appearance.
    Now that most people spend evenings in doors they do not get to see so many moonrises, and cannot believe a blue moon was called that because it was indeed blue in color. Since ‘scientists ‘ like to have an explanation for everything, they invented the so called “blue moon” explanation. None of them have ever explained why they call it a “blue moon”.

  40. One could entertain the idea that there might be an earthquake effect when we have the coincidence of a Full/New Moon with a Perigee. To take into account that an effect may not be tied to the exact moment of the perigee, but may be likely, say in a+/- 2 days interval around the perigee [if a Full or a New moon occurs in that time frame], I did a superposed epoch analysis with those parameters of the number of earthquakes greater or equal to magnitude 5.5 since 1900. The result http://www.leif.org/research/Earthquakes-Full-New.png shows no increased seismic activity at that [high] level near such times [or at any other time within a 100-day window. So, unfortunately, we cannot use the moon [either] as a predictor for strong earthquakes. This has, of course, been known for a long time, so is no surprise.

  41. James Allison says:

    Re my post above, in Christchurch we had a 5.1 quake about 10pm last night NZ time which sits perfectly within Ken Rings prediction. That quake was the third biggest since the first one shook our city on September 4th last year. So that’s 2 out of three Kens got right. He didn’t predict the September quake however hasn’t made any false quake predictions yet. Hmm….

  42. Ulric Lyons says:

    Out of 30 great quakes (Mag 8.0 and above) since 1975, and given a tidal window of -1/+3 days, 8 are near full moon, and 10 near new moon. So lunar phase could be said to be an influence, but considering that there are 850+ new and full moons over this period, it is not a useful prediction tool. Previous supermoons often have no large quakes near them. Looking at greater numbers of events, more quakes show up around new moon than full moon.

  43. Number8Dave says:

    Regarding Ken Ring’s alleged predictions, it pays to go back to the original source and see what he actually said – see http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=306&type=home

    The key passages are these:

    7 September 2010:
    “Next year, the morning of 20 March 2011 sees the South island again in a big earthquake risk for all the same reasons. This date is the closest fly-past the moon does in all of 2011. The node arrives on the 20th at 9.44am. As that date coincides with lunar equinox this will probably be an east/west faultline event this time, and therefore should be more confined to a narrower band of latitude. The only east/west fault lines in NZ are in Marlborough and N Canterbury. All factors should come together for a moon-shot straight through the centre of the earth and targeting NZ. The time will be just before noon. It could be another for the history books.”

    So this refers to yesterday. He predicted “one for the history books”, occurring in the morning, in Marlborough or North Canterbury (100 miles or more north of Christchurch). Instead we got a modest 5.1 aftershock (one of a great many that have struck the city almost daily since September), in Christchurch, in the evening. So he’s wrong about timing, he’s wrong about location, and he’s wrong about magnitude.

    After missing the original September quake, Ring said this on 18 October:
    “I would still not consider that another massive earthquake is certain, in fact I think it’s more likely not to be the case in Christchurch. I can only repeat that other well-known earthquakes in NZ’s history have not, as a rule revisited the same site.”

    And this on 13 November:
    “With that considered it is reasonable to relax and asume that another devastating shake is unlikely to repeat anytime soon, despite a seismology-department knee-jerk reaction that a 6+ mag. earthquake aftershock could be arriving in the district at any time.”

    So not only did he explicitly say another big quake in Christchurch was unlikely, he ridiculed the seismologists for suggesting such a thing. Yet somehow he has many New Zealanders convinced he’s doing better than the experts.

    He came out with another prediction on February 14 (http://www.predictweather.com/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=334&type=home) which some claim fitted the highly destructive 22 February 6.3 aftershock:
    “The possible earthquake risk areas are N/S faults until after 16 February, then E/W faults until 23rd. The moon will be full on the 18th and in perigee on the 19th. This perigee will be the fifth closest for the year … Over the next 10 days a 7+ earthquake somewhere is very likely. This could also be a time for auroras in the northern hemisphere and in the southern tip of NZ. It may also be a time for whale strandings because of increases in underwater earthquakes. The 7+ is sure to be somewhere in the “Ring of Fire”, where 80% of all major earthquakes seem to occur, and NZ is at the lower left of this Ring.”

    Note that the prediction is not specifically for Christchurch – he would have counted anywhere on the Ring of Fire as a hit. And again, the magnitude is wrong – 6+ quakes are about 10 times as common as 7+ quakes.

    Ken Ring makes a lot of predictions, as you can see if you wade through all the pages on his site. Most of them are wrong, and sink without trace. A few bear some passing resemblance to events that actually come to pass, and these are what people sieze on. Perhaps the biggest irony is that the recent quake in Japan, which really was “one for the history books”, occurred at the time of a neap tide, well away from perigee, at a time when Ring’s theories would suggest the risk of big quakes was close to minimum.

  44. Robw says:

    See! Even the moon is affected by AGW. We have to do something fast! [sarc off]

  45. Mark Cooper says:

    Leif Svalgaard said: “I did a superposed epoch analysis with those parameters of the number of earthquakes greater or equal to magnitude 5.5 since 1900.”

    I’m curious why you chose 5.5 as the lower limit for your analysis? I would be interesting to see all earthquake data for the last 5-10 years for example? I bet a lot of earthquakes in the early 20th century were never recorded…

    Anyway, it’s not just oceans that have tides. Some years ago I was stumped trying to analyse pressure data from a gauge at the bottom of a sealed gas well. The reservoir pressure was cycling up and down by a few psi every day when it should have been static. Eventually we discovered that the huge aquifer below the gas reservoir was tidal- the water didn’t move around, but the pressure rose and fell in time with the tides, but with a distinct time lag in the cycle as well.

    Magma flow is definitely subject to tidal effects, so it seems reasonable to expect a link to earthquakes as well:

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6VCS-4XPYXH5-2&_user=10&_coverDate=01%2F01%2F2010&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=gateway&_origin=gateway&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_searchStrId=1686224667&_rerunOrigin=google&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=d3a80a7fa39b6c8848413a2db0081e03&searchtype=a

    Maybe this recent event in Hawaii is linked to tides:
    http://hawaiianlavadaily.blogspot.com/2011/03/major-drop-in-magma-pressure-puu-oo.html

  46. Ulric Lyons says:
    March 20, 2011 at 2:38 pm
    Out of 30 great quakes (Mag 8.0 and above) since 1975, and given a tidal window of -1/+3 days, 8 are near full moon, and 10 near new moon. [...] Looking at greater numbers of events, more quakes show up around new moon than full moon.
    We have a complete hsitory of great quakes since 1900, so no need to cherry pick a much too small window where the statistics is poor. One might argue that it is more likely that the moon would trigger a smaller earthquake anyway [as Mark suggests].

    Mark Cooper says:
    March 20, 2011 at 3:01 pm
    I’m curious why you chose 5.5 as the lower limit for your analysis? I would be interesting to see all earthquake data for the last 5-10 years for example? I bet a lot of earthquakes in the early 20th century were never recorded…
    The 5.5 is simply the limit for the global catalogs that are available covering a long period of time. If you only look at 5-10 years there are too few new/full moons near a perigee to make reliable statistics. But if somebody has a better catalog with more events it would be easy to looks at that too.
    For now, the data that is readily available show no effect of either new or full moon near perigee [Ulric take note]: http://www.leif.org/research/Earthquakes-Full-New.png

  47. To clarify (I hope) the confusion caused by the NASA articles at
    http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/16mar_supermoon/ and
    http://ciencia.nasa.gov/ciencias-especiales/16mar_supermoon/ (Spanish):

    The average distance from the Earth to the Moon is 384,401 Km.
    The closest distance at Perigee is 356,375 Km (7.29% less than average).
    The maximum distance at Apogee is 406,720 Km (5.48% more than average).
    The maximum difference from Perigee to Apogee is 50,345 Km (13% difference).
    On March 19 ‘11 at 19:10 UT the distance was 356,577 Km (7.24% less than average) the Full Moon was at 18:11 UT.

    The NASA article says: “the Moon is 14% bigger than usual”. This I think is wrong, twice.

    See, from John Walker, http://fourmilab.ch/earthview/pacalc.html (Lunar Perigee and Apogee Calculator) and http://fourmilab.ch/earthview/moon_ap_per.html (The Inconstant Moon).

  48. Smokey says:

    Andres Valencia,

    You dare to question NASA?!☺

  49. Ulric Lyons says:

    @ Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 20, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    I make it about 1/3 of all Mag 8.0+ events from 1900 to 1971 within the same window, only slightly above chance. So there is a cluster occurring from 1975 to present. To be fair though, maybe the window should be 0 to 4 days from new/full moon as the spring tides are around 2 days after syzygy.

  50. Ulric Lyons says:
    March 20, 2011 at 7:50 pm
    I make it about 1/3 of all Mag 8.0+ events from 1900 to 1971 within the same window, only slightly above chance. So there is a cluster occurring from 1975 to present. To be fair though, maybe the window should be 0 to 4 days from new/full moon as the spring tides are around 2 days after syzygy.
    with two 5-day windows out of 29.5 the chance would be 1/3 [=2*5/29.5]. The ‘cluster’ after 1975 is due to better reporting.

  51. Dr. Dave in Dayton says:

    Atomic Hairdryer says: March 19, 2011 at 6:43 pm
    “Some years ago, not as long ago as 1993 I nipped outside my office in London and saw a much larger moon than the one I was photographing tonight. Not sure why, but it was early evening, winter and the moon was rising over a church at the end of the road.”
    ========================================
    Its an optical illusion called the “Moon Illusion.” The moon appears larger at the horizon that it does at zenith (high in the sky). The illusion is caused by the fact that objects in the visual field at the horizon make the moon appear closer to us than it does when it is high in the sky. Since the visual angle on the retina of the eye is identical in both positions, the construction generated by your visual cortex is that of a larger moon at the horizon. The creative mind at work. {smile}

  52. buhovda says:

    Could this event have triggered the “monster” earthquake in Japan?

    What else to expect? Volcanoes?

  53. Ulric Lyons says:

    @ Leif Svalgaard says:
    March 20, 2011 at 8:01 pm
    “The ‘cluster’ after 1975 is due to better reporting.”

    There are more near full/new moon since 1975, I don`t think that the dates reported were wrong for great quakes since 1900. In terms of numbers, there were more 8.0+ events in the decades 1900-9 and 1910-20 than any other time since.

  54. Ulric Lyons says:
    March 21, 2011 at 2:06 am
    In terms of numbers, there were more 8.0+ events in the decades 1900-9 and 1910-20 than any other time since.
    so you deduce that there were more full/new moons back then? :-)

  55. Ulric Lyons says:
    March 21, 2011 at 2:06 am
    In terms of numbers, there were more 8.0+ events in the decades 1900-9 and 1910-20 than any other time since
    According to the PAGER-CAT catalog:
    1900-09 8
    1910-19 5
    1920-29 6
    1930-39 7
    1940-49 10
    1950-59 7
    1960-69 9
    1970-79 7
    1980-89 2
    1990-99 6
    2000-09 12

  56. Pamela Gray says:

    Saturday night (the only night void of obscuring snow ladened clouds) I was out with my binoculars. I saw the thing rise over the hill and then studied it for quite some time. You could see the navel end and striations that point to it. You could see craters and the other affects of its violent past. I was mesmerized and stunned silent by it. I wish I was an astronaut.

    That said, the deeper tectonic energy forces intrinsic to Earth are far, far, far greater than the puny surfacy pull of the moon (and by the way, why do we not have a name for ours?) in terms of causing Earth quakes. The null hypothesis clearly stands.

    That said, anyone spouting this kind of nonsense (the Sun did it, the moon did it, or Jupiter was aligned with Mars wut dun it) is ready fodder for my planned goddess cave dedicated to the worship of the gravity forces from outer space. I plan on making tons of money off you guys.

  57. fabron says:

    Pamela when you pull the trigger of your six shooter, it is not power of your finger but one of the gun-powder charge which is responsible for whatever damage you may cause.

  58. fabron says:
    March 21, 2011 at 7:50 am
    Pamela when you pull the trigger of your six shooter, it is not power of your finger but one of the gun-powder charge which is responsible for whatever damage you may cause.
    But a certain amount of force is still necessary. A flea jumping on the trigger will not causing the gun to fire. Regardless, careful analysis of the observational data shows that there is no more earthquakes near full/new moon near perigee, so there is nothing to debate or explain.

  59. mojo says:

    Who says the moon is at perigee?

    Personally, I like to think that the earth is at perilune.

  60. johanna says:

    banjo says:
    March 20, 2011 at 5:53 am

    Prince George : Ah Blackadder. It has been a wild afternoon full of strange omens. I dreamt that a large eagle circled the room three times and then got into bed with me and took all the blankets. And then I saw that it wasn’t an eagle at all but a large black snake. And also Duncan’s horses did turn up and eat each other. As usual.
    ———————————
    Banjo, I like the way you think.

    The only comment I can provide to this esoteric debate is that for the last week, here (35 south) on a clear night it is like a spotlight has been pointed into the yard. I have been gardening by moonlight.

  61. Just The Facts says:

    mojo says: March 21, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Who says the moon is at perigee?

    Personally, I like to think that the earth is at perilune.

    You are welcome to think as you would like, but you’d be wrong, as the definition of Perilune is, “the point in the path of a body orbiting the moon that is nearest to the center of the moon.”
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/perilune

    The event is named based on the object being orbited, i.e.:
    “Body | Closest approach | Farthest approach
    Earth | Perigee | Apogee
    Moon | Periselene/Pericynthion/Perilune | Aposelene/Apocynthion/Apolune
    Sun |Perihelion | Aphelion
    General |Periapsis/Pericentre | Apoapsis
    Galaxy | Perigalacticon | Apogalacticon
    Star |Periastron | Apastron
    Black hole| Perimelasma/Peribothra/Perinigricon | Apomelasma/Apobothra/Aponigricon
    Mercury | Perihermion | Apohermion
    Venus | Pericytherion/Pericytherean/Perikrition | Apocytherion/Apocytherean/Apokrition
    Mars | Periareion | Apoareion
    Jupiter | Perizene/Perijove | Apozene/Apojove
    Saturn | Perikrone/Perisaturnium | Apokrone/Aposaturnium
    Uranus | Periuranion | Apouranion
    Neptune | Periposeidion | Apoposeidion
    Pluto | Perihadion | Apohadion”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apsis

  62. Ulric Lyons says:
    March 22, 2011 at 3:32 am
    In terms of numbers, there were more 8.0+ events in the decades 1900-9 and 1910-20 than any other time since.
    The best compilation of earthquakes is the modern PAGER-CAT
    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/research/data/pager/
    “PAGER-CAT combines high-quality source (i.e., hypocentral location and magnitude)”

    Here are the PAGER values for 1906 [last column is magnitude]
    1/21/1906 13:49 696173.5761 34 137 7.7
    1/31/1906 15:36 696183.65 1 -81.5 8.6
    4/18/1906 13:12 696260.55 38 -123 7.9
    8/17/1906 0:40 696381.0278 -33 -72 8.5
    8/17/1906 0:10 696381.0074 51 179 7.8
    9/14/1906 16:04 696409.6697 -7 149 8.0
    12/22/1906 18:21 696508.7646 43.5 85 7.2

    Here are the NOAA numbers you quote:
    1906 01 21 1349 34.00 138.00 340 8.3
    1906 01 31 1536 1.00 -81.50 25 8.8
    1906 04 18 1312 38.00 -123.00 25 8.3
    1906 08 17 0010 51.00 179.00 25 8.3
    1906 08 17 0040 -33.00 -72.00 25 8.6
    1906 09 14 1604 -7.00 149.00 25 8.3
    1906 12 22 1821 43.50 85.00 25 8.3

    As you can see there have been a recalibration since 1994.

  63. George E. Smith says:

    Well two minutes and Photoshop can make the moon any size you want.

    Actually it is no big deal; the moon gets THAT BIG EVERY SINGLE MONTH.

    So what’s the fuss; moon gets to perigee every month without incident; and it looks that big every month; so get used to it.

  64. HenryP says:

    I am not sure yet, does the fact that the moon sometimes is nearer to earth affect the total energy budget and if so, what happens to the climate if it is nearer by or farther away?

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