I Feel a FAIL Coming On – Will Tuvalu Survive ‘Super moon’?

UPDATE: Sunday 5/6/12 7PM PST – The FAIL occurred, with the predication hype not even close. Read here: Tuvalu flooding FAIL – no supermoon tide of any significance

Guest post by Andi Cockroft

The MSM down under are running with a story about the next close encounter with the moon due in the next day or so, a “super-moon”, and the likely impacts on the low-lying Tuvalu Island Nation.

clip_image001

(map courtesy of Wikipedia, and their discussion of Tuvalu here)

With a population of just over 10,000, Tuvalu – formerly known as the Ellice Islands – is one of the smallest nations in the world, just ahead of the Vatican!

From Wikipedia:

At its highest, Tuvalu is only 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level, and Tuvaluan leaders have been concerned about the effects of rising sea levels for some years. Whether there are measurable changes in the sea level relative to the islands of Tuvalu is a contentious issue. There were problems associated with the pre-1993 sea level records from Funafuti which resulted in improvements in the recording technology to provide more reliable data for analysis. The degree of uncertainty as to estimates of sea level change relative to the islands of Tuvalu is reflected in the conclusions made in 2002 from the available data. The 2011 report of the Pacific Climate Change Science Program published by the Australian Government] concludes: “The sea-level rise near Tuvalu measured by satellite altimeters since 1993 is about 5 mm per year.”

A nearby neighbor are our friends over at Kiribati, who must be completely wetting themselves (but not by high tides) at the thought of all that wonderful UN monies due to head their way. A moon at perigee should be like Manna from Heaven.

But what if nothing significant happens? What then? 

At perigee, the moon approaches its closet to earth, and this particular approach is being referred to as a “Super Moon”.

Video here:

According to website “Stuff”, the interactive arm of Fairfax media:-

A “super-moon” will be a novelty for New Zealanders on Sunday, but for the 12,000 people of Tuvalu it is a foreboding practice for a future where rising seas make their homeland uninhabitable.

On Monday and Tuesday super-moon king tides will leave much of the capital atoll of Funafuti virtually below sea-level.

On Sunday night the Moon will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than any other full moon this year, the US space agency NASA says.

Known as a “perigee moon”, it occurs when the moon reaches its closest point to Earth.

The full moon will occur at 3.35pm on Sunday, New Zealand time, but will not be visible here until moonrise over New Zealand at 5.23pm.

With a clear sky, it guarantees Sunday night will be a bright one.

NASA says the super moon has a reputation for trouble, causing high tides, making dogs howl and keeping people awake.

The space agency says the best time to look at it is when the moon is near the horizon.

But what is the reality of a Moon at Perigee?

According to those folks over at NOAA, very little – see here.

An extract:

The moon is the primary source of the gravitational forces which cause the tides. The proximity of the moon in relation to the earth does have an effect on the range of the tides at any given time. In each of its 28-day elliptical orbits, the moon reaches a “perigee,” its closest point of approach to the earth. During these periods, there will be a slight increase in the average range of tides. The increases in the range of the tides is seen by a slightly higher than average high tide, as well as a slightly lower than average low tide. Additionally, twice each month, around the times of the new moon and full moon, when the earth, sun, and moon are nearly in line, there is an increase in the average range of the tides. These are called “spring tides.” Three or four times a year, the occurrence of a new or full moon will coincide with the “perigee” of the moon, which Mr. Wood has termed the “perigean spring tides”.

The difference between the “perigean spring tides” and the normal tidal ranges for all areas of the coast is small. In most cases the difference is only a couple of inches. The largest difference occurs in certain areas of the Alaska coast where the range of the tide was increased by approximately 6 inches. But considering that these areas have an average tidal range of more than 30 feet, the increase is but a small percentage of the whole (less than a 2% increase).

So, will Tuvalu vanish beneath the waves? Well unless it’s less than 2 inches above seal-level, then probably not – so no worries there then.

I really do feel a rather smug FAIL coming on – then again it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been wrong – hence stopping gambling on the gee-gee’s.

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77 Responses to I Feel a FAIL Coming On – Will Tuvalu Survive ‘Super moon’?

  1. Lew Skannen says:

    I also suspect a large FAIL is on the way but I doubt it will be reported as such by the MSM.

  2. bushbunny says:

    King tides are always high. Tuvula has removed sand and gravel from its foreshores and should be erecting sea walls. Also it is sinking a bit. This happen always with Atolls. But no amount of climate change funding will alter that.

  3. Rhys Jaggar says:

    There’s a weatherman in New Zealand called Ken Ring who has written quite a bit about the effect of moon on tides and weather.

    Take what he writes with a pinch of salt, but he has some interesting insights nonetheless.

    No doubt he will have opinions on the effect of this supermoon…….

  4. ALAN says:

    “The sea-level rise near Tuvalu measured by satellite altimeters since 1993 is about 5 mm per year.” – The last time I looked up the sea level references for Tuvalu I am sure the increase over the last 20 – 30 years was Zero. Wasn’t there a recent article showing sea levels falling in this area? Wasn’t there an article saying that Tuvalu was actually growing due to deposition rather than disappearing?

    Or is my poor old memory failing me again?

  5. Warren in New Zealand says:

    [i]These are called “spring tides.” Three or four times a year, the occurrence of a new or full moon will coincide with the “perigee” of the moon, which Mr. Wood has termed the “perigean spring tides”.[/i]

    So it happens at least 3 times a year?

    Where do the Tuvalans go to?

    Does Rio have anything to do with the amount of drivel that is being spouted forth?

  6. Bloke down the pub says:

    Apart from man’s recent impact on the islands through the removal of sand and coral for building materials, the islands have grown so as to be a few feet above water. If in the past, sea level had been higher then the islands would now be that much higher too.

  7. Bill Tuttle says:

    On Sunday night the Moon will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than any other full moon this year, the US space agency NASA says.

    Does NASA say where that additional 14% mass will come from and where it will be going on Monday?

  8. Alan the Brit says:

    No, no, you are all wrong I tell you! The old crone next door spat into her tea cup & told me in truth, I guarantee that somewhere around the world, there will be freak weather, storms, hail, snow, thunder, lightening, heavy rain, drought, sunshine, cloudiness, unusual cold, unusual warmth, dust storms, light rain, mist, fog, low cloud, high cloud, freak waves, no waves, some waves, melting ice, freezing water, we must act now before it’s too late to stop these things happening it’s just so unnatural, weird & disruptive, it’s never happened in the past……………have I missed anything? Sarc off ;-)

  9. SØREN BUNDGAARD says:

    “It’s actually the land mass, that goes up and down” Ken Ring

  10. Jake says:

    The sea isn’t rising. Their island is sinking. Many if not all volcanic islands in the southern ‘Ring-of’fire’ sink as the magma chambers move underneath them. The Hawaiian islands are slowly moving as the newest islands grow and the smallest sinks. In time another Island will pop up as the vents move.

  11. H.R. says:

    They should do what their ancestors did. It’s worked so far or they wouldn’t be here to worry about it.

  12. tty says:

    What usually causes flood disasters is when a spring tide coincides with an extreme low pressure area and a bad storm or hurricane with an onshore wind.
    Tides, whether neap or spring or even “perigee spring” happens regularly several times a year and is nothing out of the usual.
    Incidentally it is possible to get just a little extra mileage out of an “perigee spring tide” if Earth is simultaneously at perhelion, i e closest to the sun. I would expect that a perfect “perigee perhelion spring tide” might possibly gain another few inches at high tide.

  13. BJ says:

    At only 15 ft above sea level, one good sized typhoon will wipe it out long before it completely sinks or gets covered by mm per year of sea level rise.

  14. Hexe Froschbein says:

    Oh show us the way to the next subsidy
    Oh don’t ask why.. don’t ask why we lie
    Cuz if we don’t find that next little grant
    I tell you we must die
    I tell you we all fry
    I tell you
    command you
    to buy my every lie

    Oh, moon of Tuvalu
    We now must say goodbye…
    we’ve lost our shame and values
    and must scam handouts, oh you know why.

  15. what surprises me is that nobody worries about the Palm and other artificial island creations off Dubai – not any higher than Tuvalu above sea level?

  16. Rick Bradford says:

    “…virtually below sea-level.”

    That’ll be above sea-level, then.

  17. polistra says:

    Dubai isn’t worried about its sea level because Arabs are rational.

  18. Bill Marsh says:

    Bill Tuttle says:
    May 4, 2012 at 1:57 am

    On Sunday night the Moon will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than any other full moon this year, the US space agency NASA says.

    Does NASA say where that additional 14% mass will come from and where it will be going on Monday?
    ==================

    Obviously its ‘dark matter’ the rest of the time.

  19. Mr Green Genes says:

    Alan the Brit says:
    May 4, 2012 at 2:26 am

    ……………have I missed anything?

    Plague of frogs, plague of boils, shower of herrings …

    C’mon, the old crone’s not trying hard enough!!

  20. Graphite says:

    Rhys Jaggar says:
    May 4, 2012 at 12:56 am
    There’s a weatherman in New Zealand called Ken Ring who has written quite a bit . . .

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    . . . all of it proven nonsense. He is a national embarrassment.

  21. Bob says:

    According to the video report the perigee moon of March 2011 was a couple hundred kilometers closer and, to all accounts, they survived. Other than feeling and increased urge to howle nothing unusual will happen tonight. That is unless this is the first full moon since you were bitten.

  22. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Funafuti tide predictions are here.

    This is not, repeat not, slated to be a big king tide. The existence of the “super-moon” doesn’t have that effect on the Tuvalu tides. Here’s the year’s highest tide for a number of years.

    SOURCE

    2012 is hardly in the running …

    w.

  23. Russ R. says:

    I’ll be watching for earthquakes or volcanoes.

    If there’s a fault line or magma reservoir somewhere that’s been building up pressure and is about to give, then the extra stress and strain from a stronger tidal force might be all that’s needed to push it over the edge and trigger a release.

    However, I wouldn’t get too alarmed. I’ve read that the increase in seismic or volcanic activity is less than 1% for a typical full or new moon, so I wouldn’t expect a perigee full or new moon to be materially different.

  24. gnomish says:

    ima start a light chortle now and slowly build up to the guffaws on sunday.
    thanks for the schadenfreude alert!

  25. Graeme M says:

    There is according to the South Pacific Sea Level and Climate Monitoring Project some subsidence but an overall trend of sea level rise in the order of 3.7mm/yr (if I am reading this report correctly):
    http://www.bom.gov.au/ntc/IDO60033/IDO60033.2010.pdf

  26. Neil Jones says:

    “will leave much of the capital atoll of Funafuti virtually below sea-level.”

    Does that mean according to computer models or are they mixing the word “virtually” with “almost”?

  27. P. Solar says:

    “capital atoll of Funafuti virtually below sea-level.”

    Virtually, like the climate is “virtually” warming. We should be virtually ready to give them some virtual money to help them with this virtual problem.

    >>
    The 2011 report of the Pacific Climate Change Science Program published by the Australian Government] concludes: “The sea-level rise near Tuvalu measured by satellite altimeters since 1993 is about 5 mm per year.”
    >>

    Perhaps the Aussie govt. should make that into a scientific statement by stating the accuracy of satellite altimetry. Last time I dug out the papers on that there were more adjustments going on than in half an hour of haggling a price at an arab street market.

    First you need to know the height of the waves and the wind speed, radar tends to pick up the troughs, not the peaks, not the average. So your altimeter is only as good as knowledge of sea conditions when you got the radar blip.

    Now with a modest 2m swell in the Pacific, how accurately to you imagine they can measure that from space? Well I can tell you they try to estimate from statistical variations in the signal. There are several models to choose from …

    Then there’s the barometer correction because the ocean mean height is sucked up by low pressure. Then there’s the uncertainty of the satellite’s position (initial orbital position and orbital decay), which you don’t know to mm accuracy,

    Don’t forget your computer model for the local tide variations.

    Then there’s the land height. Now this starts to get really tricky. because we need to calculate mantle rebound, tectonic and volcanic movements etc.

    If you come out of that with less than +/- 20 cm uncertainty you’ve probably done a bloody good job. To get a rate of change you need to take a difference of two such readings, hence adding yet more uncertainty.

    Of course if you ask NOAA they’ll probably quote something silly like +/-0.4mm/yr but that is more like one std. dev of the straight line they fit they did on the graph, it is not the total uncertainty of the measurements.

    Like everything else in climate pseudo science, the true error bars are bigger that the results we are supposed to panic over. We just forgot to mention it.

  28. Louis Hooffsteter says:

    From: http://www.ridgenet.net/~do_while/sage/v2i2f.htm

    One of the first things NASA did when Apollo 11 astronauts reached the Moon was to set up a laser reflector that allowed scientists to measure the distance from the Earth to the Moon. Over the 12-year period from 1969 to 1981, scientists found it to be increasing approximately 4 cm per year. The Earth and the Moon are coupled by gravitational forces… wound up like an old-fashioned watch mainspring, which is gradually unwinding. The Earth is spinning slower (and) the Moon is getting farther away and slowing down. Given enough time, they will eventually reach the point where the Earth is slowly turning, and the Moon is slowly orbiting the Earth with the same period. Then there will be no more tides, and the recession will stop.

    In a billiion years or so the problem will take care of itself.

  29. tom in Florida says:

    “The space agency says the best time to look at it is when the moon is near the horizon.”

    Of course, that is when the Moon always looks larger.

  30. Gail Combs says:

    More Propaganda to frighten the sheeple into willingly giving up their wealth, prosperity and freedom so our all knowing Politicians and bureaucrats can lead us to “Safety”

    Truth has nothing to do with it only plausiblity (well sort of) and grabbing headlines. If it fails to happen there is another big headline just behind it to divert the sheeple who have a very short attention span.

  31. Owen in Ga says:

    @Bill Tuttle: You either forgot your /sarc tag or you haven’t dealt that much with NASA’s press office. They consider the general public to be 6 years old and invariably talk down to us. They simply forgot to add the key word “apparent” to their sentence because us 6 year-olds would get confused by the big words donchaknow..

  32. P. Solar says:

    L Michael Hohmann says:
    May 4, 2012 at 3:21 am

    what surprises me is that nobody worries about the Palm and other artificial island creations off Dubai – not any higher than Tuvalu above sea level?

    Hey man , get up to speed.
    Haven’t you heard they are building a giant goldfish bowl that will house their underwater parliament on Palm Island by 2020 ?!

    The Maldives are a very poor nation and they can only afford scuba gear but the Arabs princes intend to do it in style , not in wet suits.

  33. Alan Watt says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 4, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Funafuti tide predictions are here.

    Thanks as always for bringing in some facts Willis. However you should be fair and note this graph contains predicted tide levels. In the accompanying text it states:

    Figure 17 shows that the highest predicted level (3.24 m) over the
    period 1990 to 2016 was at 17:26 Local Time on the 28th February 2006. Regional sea
    levels were 20cm higher than normal at the time due to climatic conditions such as
    enhanced trade wind activity, and so the actual sea level reached 3.44m on this day.

    So the actual sea level (& therefore the number of Tuvaluans with wet feet) may have been higher (or lower) than the predicted levels shown in the graph.

    Still, it seems the record sea level for Funafatu in the past 20 years was in 2006, and somehow the residents survived. I’m thinking we can cancel the evacuation floatilla of cruise ships …

  34. P. Berkin says:

    Hexe Froschbein says:
    May 4, 2012 at 3:14 am

    Hexe, that’s lovely!

    If the Minnesotans are reading, how about performing it?

  35. hunter says:

    As David Appel demonstrated so clearly, there is no reason to believe any claim from the AGW hype machine.

  36. Luther Wu says:

  37. Patrick says:

    It’s made from camembert. It’s rotten cheese!

  38. Latitude says:

    At its highest, Tuvalu is only 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level,
    ========
    Good grief….they are 4 ft higher than I am!

  39. brian lemon says:

    You can be sure that every weasily climate scientist or technician is producing papers in hopes of getting the chance to go to Rio.

  40. Alan the Brit says:

    Mr Green Genes says:
    May 4, 2012 at 3:36 am
    Alan the Brit says:
    May 4, 2012 at 2:26 am
    ……………have I missed anything?
    Plague of frogs, plague of boils, shower of herrings …
    C’mon, the old crone’s not trying hard enough!!

    Well, to be fair, she was in a bit of a hurry, we have some village family entertainment this afternoon. We’re dunking a known witch because she gave this fella a potion that cured his cold, & she is always very cheerful & smiles a lot (absolute dead giveaway) for half an hour until she’s nearly dead because we know the water rejects her evil wicked ways, then we’re going to burn her at the stake! At least we give a fair trial! She also forgot rising sea-levels & falling sea-levels :-)

  41. PiperPaul says:

    But what if nothing significant happens?
    The fearmongers will just move on to the latest scaaaaaary prediction and pretend they didn’t have anything to do with the most recent one. Business as usual.

  42. Urederra says:

    Bill Tuttle says:
    May 4, 2012 at 1:57 am
    On Sunday night the Moon will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than any other full moon this year, the US space agency NASA says.

    Does NASA say where that additional 14% mass will come from and where it will be going on Monday?

    hahahaha… priceless.

  43. Pamela Gray says:

    Each individual adult is responsible for their own survival. Yet it never fails to amaze me. People who live on atolls, sand spits, river banks, tree crowded wilderness areas, and sandy hill sides yell the loudest when disaster strikes. Those that build their houses upon stable bedrock and soil on cleared land take disasters in stride.

    I don’t care one wit why seas rise. Move if you find your perch precarious.

  44. Peter Crawford says:

    These ” Supermoons” occur every 411 days due to the difference between the Moons sidereal orbital period (about 27.5 days) and its synodic period (29.5 days and what we base our calendar months on).

    The last one was 19th March 2011 and there were dark warnings of major earthquakes (I kid you not). The next will be late July 2013 . Major hurricanes anyone ? Or how about a plague of Killer Spacebats ?

    The closest supermoon since records began was January 1912…..hang on a minute…that was the year Titanic sank….wooh-ooh-woooh-oooh.

  45. pkudude99 says:

    Even the Climate Change Cheerleader Phil Plait poo poos all over this: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/05/02/the-supermoon-stuff-again/

    Money quote: “To be specific, according to Fourmilab, the Moon will be 356,953 kilometers from Earth when it’s full. However, last month, on April 7, when it was full it was about 358,313 km away. That’s a difference of 1400 km, less than 1%. . . . That hasn’t stopped some news venues touting this as a “Supermoon”. I’m seeing it on websites, on Twitter, and getting email about it, and like I said, it’s irritating (and I’ll add the idea for this whole as well as the term “Supermoon” were started by an astrologer, so draw your own conclusions there). I’m all for encouraging people to go out and look at the Moon, but it shouldn’t be under false pretenses.”

  46. CV says:

    This, to me, is much like people worrying about a full moon in general. The moon is always “full”, and is overhead every single day, it just looks different. It affects tides every day, and drifts slightly from apogee to perigee, every day. I think they’re just trying to take advantage of a normal occurrence since it’s easily visible.

  47. Bob Diaz says:

    RE: At its highest, Tuvalu is only 4.6 metres (15 ft) above sea level, and Tuvaluan leaders have been concerned about the effects of rising sea levels for some years.
    ————————————–
    4.6 meters –> 4,600mm
    At the current rate of 2.5 mm per year…
    4,600mm / 2 = 2,300mm (the 1/2 way point)
    2,300mm / 2.5mm per year = about 920 years to reach the 1/2 way point

    That assumes that we don’t enter into the next ice age by them.

  48. cmarrou says:

    I for one blame the United Nations – for admitting a “nation” whose highest point is only 15 feet above sea level. Simply a recipe for disaster from Day One. Even godforsaken Houston, Texas gets up to 125 feet, and we’re still awaiting a ruling whether it’s fit for human habitation…

  49. Latitude says:

    Bob Diaz says:
    May 4, 2012 at 8:02 am
    At the current rate of 2.5 mm per year…
    ======================================
    Bob, Tuvalu gauges have been showing sea levels falling…………….

  50. jayhd says:

    I’m contacting the Tuvalu government today (May 4) and offering them $1,000 U.S. for the whole island chain. Since it’s going to be underwater this weekend, I think I’m giving the residents of Tuvalu a good deal.

    Jay Davis

  51. wayne says:

    SØREN, very enlightening video. That sure answered some of my misconceptions about tides and earthquakes to boot. So it is land-tide in realty, not the water and i could never quite understand that with water about 1/8th the density (but had never stopped to dig it up either). Thanks.

  52. Sparks says:

    The moon can appear to be larger in the sky during either perigee or apogee, in the video it’s suggested that the ‘moon illusion’ only occurs during perigee, this is untrue, the ‘moon illusion’ is purely in the ability of our brains perception and interpretation of it’s surroundings.

    Although the moons orbit can be calculated to be closer to the earth or further away, we can not perceive these mathematical differences of the size of the moon either at perigee or apogee by simply looking. If you’re a newbie to observational science you will find this a baffling concept.

    See: “The theory of shape constancy”.

    I found a pretty good explanation for this phenomenon with an interactive graphic of size constancy here; http://science.howstuffworks.com/question491.htm

    As for the high tides, it’s not unusual to have flooding especially coinciding with a storm or wet weather during a high tide, but the high tides alone causing a widespread disaster sounds like a FAIL to me too (but predictions aren’t my thing, I wasn’t blessed with a crystal ball like some).

  53. tommoriarty says:

    Here is the sea level data for Tuvalu from the Permanent Service for Mean Sea level …

    http://www.psmsl.org/data/obtaining/rlr.monthly.plots/1452_high.png

    pretty scary stuff.

  54. Bruce Cobb says:

    “A “super-moon” will be a novelty for New Zealanders on Sunday, but for the 12,000 people of Tuvalu it is a foreboding practice for a future where rising seas make their homeland uninhabitable.”
    So, it will be sort of a ‘dry run’ then.
    Cue the wailing and teeth-gnashing. Man the lifeboats! Lookout, Australia, here come the “climate refugees”.

  55. Luther Wu says:

    cmarrou says:
    May 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

    I for one blame the United Nations – for admitting a “nation” whose highest point is only 15 feet above sea level. Simply a recipe for disaster from Day One. Even godforsaken Houston, Texas gets up to 125 feet, and we’re still awaiting a ruling whether it’s fit for human habitation…
    __________________________
    Not according to me, it isn’t.
    However, all of my relatives and friends that live in Houston disagree and can’t figure out why I live where I do.

  56. thisisnotgoodtogo says:

    http://www.mojvideo.com/video-bob-dylan-i-feel-a-change-comin-on/3551124e5886d97189fc

    Bob is feeling it too. Maybe a Tuvaluan band could use it as an anthem during the event.

    “I feel a fail comin’ on” sung to this tune is OK too.

  57. Peter Crawford says:

    The Nasa film was not very good. The moon at perigee will only appear 14% bigger if you are at the equator and even then it will NOT appear 14% bigger “than any other moon this year”. Lunar perigee occurs every 27.5 days. You would think NASA might know this.

    You do not need “rulers in the sky” to measure the width of the moons visible limb as seen from Earth. Do this easy bit of backyard astronomy. It is fun with friends and family.

    Assuming you can find an unobstructed view of the eastern horizon and the sky is clear, wait until the moon has appeared on the horizon. Everybody will agree that it looks very big. Now hold an ordinary clear plastic rule at arms length in front of you and measure the moon in millimetres
    (sunglasses help here). Make a note of the number. Now wait a few hours until the moon is high in the sky. You and your friends will agree that it looks a lot smaller now. Measure it as before. To your suprise it will be the same number you had earlier.

    That is the Moon Illusion. A trick of perception.

  58. Smokey says:

    Peter Crawford,

    Yes, it’s an illusion. The reason is because near the hoizon there are reference points such as trees, hills, buildings, and the horizon itself. Looking straight up, there is nothing to compare the moon’s size to.

  59. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Alan Watt says:
    May 4, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 4, 2012 at 4:10 am

    Funafuti tide predictions are here.

    Thanks as always for bringing in some facts Willis. However you should be fair and note this graph contains predicted tide levels. In the accompanying text it states: …

    So now I’m not being fair, as I should be. And how am I being unfair?

    Because I said “tide predictions are here”, and you claim I should have noted that the graph contains tide predictions …

    Man, there’s no pleasing some people. Yes, Alan, JUST AS I SAID those are predictions. You can tell, see, because I left a clever clue for the initiated when I called them “tide predictions”. And yes, as you point out the predictions are never exactly what happens … which may be why they are called “predictions” rather than say ” future facts”.

    Setting that aside, you are correct that tides can be lower or higher than predicted from a host of effects, including:

    Barometric pressure changes from weather systems depress or increase sea levels, with time scales from hours to weeks.

    The “El Nino” effect, on a time scale of years, strongly affects sea levels in the South Pacific.

    Winds can cause the oceans to pile up against the land or push them away from the shore, on the time scale of hours to weeks.

    Seasonal barometric variations have the same effect as those due to weather systems, on the scale of months.

    The “sloshing” of tides, especially in enclosed basins such as atoll lagoons, can increase or decrease sea levels on a time scale of days to years, depending on the size of the basin.

    Changes in seawater temperature, on a time scale from years to centuries, can increase or decrease sea levels.

    The land on which the tide gauge is situated may be rising or falling.

    Am I being fair now?

    Sheesh … no pleasing some people …

    w.

    DISCLAIMER: Any predictions in the above comment are predictions. Past performance is no guarantee of future success. Predictions may not be 100% accurate. Not valid where taxed or licensed. This comment complies with all provisions of the Fair Tidal Reporting Act. No electrons were harmed in the preparation of these predictions.

  60. Larry says:

    The answer seems obvious–did I miss somebody saying it?

    Send the people that kept Guam from tipping over down to Tuvalo to build what ever it takes to jack it up out of harms way.

  61. Willis Eschenbach says:

    Latitude says:
    May 4, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Bob Diaz says:
    May 4, 2012 at 8:02 am

    At the current rate of 2.5 mm per year…

    ======================================
    Bob, Tuvalu gauges have been showing sea levels falling…………….

    Not true. The Tuvalu gauge is part of the SEAFRAME project, which maintains very accurate (albeit short) records including GPS to measure land subsidence. The most recent data is here, and says:

    Accounting for the precise levelling results and inverted barometric pressure effect, the trend is +3.7 mm/year.

    It’s an interesting report, well worth reading.

    However, the record is only 19 years long, so the same paper says the 95% confidence interval is about ± 2.8 mm/year … so we’re 95% sure it’s rising, but how much it is rising is much less clear …

    w.

  62. JaneHM says:

    Check out the PBS Pacific Heartbeat episode on Takuu Atoll which is north-east of PNG and only about a meter above high tide. Multiple issues are affecting its fate
    http://pacificheartbeat.org/?page_id=11

  63. Gunga Din says:

    (Time to possibly display my ignorance but …) If the moon is full then the Earth is between the Sun and the Moon. Wouldn’t a New Moon over Tuvalu produce a higher tide? Or would this be slightly higher because the Moon itself is closer?

  64. Gunga Din says:

    Typos. I’ve to learn to check my typing before I hit “Post Comment”.
    “… Moon, wouldn’t …”

  65. Gunga Din says:

    Bill Tuttle says:
    May 4, 2012 at 1:57 am
    On Sunday night the Moon will be 14 per cent bigger and 30 per cent brighter than any other full moon this year, the US space agency NASA says.

    Does NASA say where that additional 14% mass will come from and where it will be going on Monday?
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    They are going to begin shooting a remake of “The Honeymooners”. Ralph is finally going to send Alice to the Moon. Rosie O’Donnel is playing Alice.
    (I did it again! I shouldn’t have said that!)

  66. H.R. says:

    @P. Solar says:
    May 4, 2012 at 4:33 am

    “capital atoll of Funafuti virtually below sea-level.”

    Virtually, like the climate is “virtually” warming. We should be virtually ready to give them some virtual money to help them with this virtual problem.
    ===================================================
    LOL! My virtual donation is on the way to help all the virtual climate refugees who didn’t turn up their virtual trouser cuffs.

  67. Sparks says:

    I had to explain this about the moon to my eleven year old nephew (coincidentally) this evening!

    His response was hilarious, he said, “If I stand here, you will see me close up and I’ll be this size and if I’m far away from you I’ll look smaller” (he then ran to the other side of the room) “so if I’m the moon the closer I get to you the bigger I’ll look” (he then walked back). I said, “the moon never gets far enough away from us that we can see it getting bigger or smaller, When the moon looks bigger or smaller It’s only our perspective using the naked eye that it appears bigger or smaller”, It blew his mind.
    I have to give the little guy credit tho, Jupiter is very bright in the sky and this past fue months he has enjoyed pointing it out to everyone, I think he gets a kick out of it every time I confirm that his observation is correct in person to his friends including his granny and aunt. lol

    Well… science isn’t all about political crap, It’s fun and interesting, but engineering is better building block for young minds in my opinion, the time I built an r2d2, it was more inspirational to them (and got more Wow’s) than if I just showed them a picture or if they found a book to read on building r2d2s.

    Just a thought, I hope I’m not to far OT.

  68. Sparks says:

    Small, Far Away.

  69. DaveR says:

    Jake says:
    May 4, 2012 at 2:52 am
    [...] Many if not all volcanic islands in the southern ‘Ring-of’fire’ sink as the magma chambers move underneath them. The Hawaiian islands are slowly moving as the newest islands grow and the smallest sinks. In time another Island will pop up as the vents move.

    It’s lithospheric plate movement above asthenopheric ‘hot spots’ that allow island arc formation and they’re moving relatively quickly at about five inches a year:
    http://www.platetectonics.com/book/page_17.asp

  70. Don K says:

    A couple of points:
    Tides are complicated, but a lot has been understood about them since classical times. The first rough tide tables were produced a millenium ago in China. I believe that tide tables were fairly important in the days of sailing ships. Captains desired to ride ebb tide out of harbors. And in some ports one had to make sure there was enough water under the keel to get in and out of harbour. Folks like Newton and Laplace devoted considerable time to analyzing tides. Very accurate tide predictions have been available for quite some time. At least a century. I’m guessing more like two or three centuries. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide
    ==============
    ALAN says: May 4, 2012 at 12:59 am –“Wasn’t there an article saying that Tuvalu was actually growing due to deposition rather than disappearing? Or is my poor old memory failing me again?”

    I think that your memory is fine. The problem is probably that removing the affects of variable winds, local marine topography, etc from tidal gauge measurements is very difficult so sea level measurements have substantial uncertainty. You probably need measurements over many years to get accurate numbers. Snapshots of a few months or years can be misleading. Or they might be dead on.
    ===============
    Bloke down the pub says: May 4, 2012 at 1:51 am –“If in the past, sea level had been higher then the islands would now be that much higher too.”

    One would think so, but the coral/coral debris the islands are built from is almost certainly a bit soluble whenever volcanic activity or other phenomena lead to acidic rain. I’m guessing that the erosion rate of coral islands is high compared to, for example, the Ordovician metasediments underlying Manhattan. I’ve done some some looking and so far haven’t hit upon any serious research on coral island erosion … yet.
    =================
    bushbunny says: May 4, 2012 at 12:40 am — “Tuvula has removed sand and gravel from its foreshores and should be erecting sea walls.”

    Maybe. Sea levels clearly vary a lot with glaciation, and glacial melt. It appears that there is a mechanism — possibly coral growth plus storm debris accreation that keeps coral islands (barely) above sea levels. In that case, building sea walls may be the last thing residents of low coral islands want to do. It’s not clear to me what the optimum strategy for these island dwellers might be although I suspect that whining about sea level rise (which may not even be very important at many islands) is not it. See http://joannenova.com.au/2010/08/south-pacific-sea-levels-no-rise-since-1993/
    ================
    Willis Eschenbach says: May 4, 2012 at 11:34 am — “The Tuvalu gauge is part of the SEAFRAME project, which maintains very accurate (albeit short) records including GPS to measure land subsidence.”
    Yes. In the long run, the CGPS data will probably be very important to the discussion. Unfortunately, GPSs aren’t great at measuring altitude (It’s a geometry thing) and a very long observation period is surely required to get millimeter accuracy. Although SEAFRAME has 19 years of data, I believe that the GPSs weren’t installed until a number of years into the project. Detail looking into GPS altitude measurement of tidal gauges is on my todo list. But it’s not going to happen this morning.

    And yes, sea levels probably are rising a bit. Even Axel Morner — probably the most vocal critic of sea level measurement science and, in his opinion, science fantasy — acknowledges a few inches a century.

  71. Paul Coppin says:

    Pamela Gray says:
    May 4, 2012 at 6:43 am

    Each individual adult is responsible for their own survival. Yet it never fails to amaze me. People who live on atolls, sand spits, river banks, tree crowded wilderness areas, and sandy hill sides yell the loudest when disaster strikes. Those that build their houses upon stable bedrock and soil on cleared land take disasters in stride.

    I don’t care one wit why seas rise. Move if you find your perch precarious.

    <b!= =!. +1. A friend of mine is fond of putting the following slogan in his signature lines: Life is hard. Wear a helmet.

  72. Paul Coppin says:

    Durn, screwed that up. !– –! = “two thumbs up” in txt spk.

  73. F.Wulf says:

    Not to worry, Al Gore said everybody had upped and left Tuvalu for New Zealand years ago.

  74. DaveG says:

    As I breathlessly write this Tuvalu and surrounding Atoll isles only have only 6 hrs left before the evil super moon destroys all in it’s deadly gravity grip. I won’t sleep tonight worrying about the Tuvaluanees. Where will they store the $billions in global warming guilt money from the western taxpayers with the Banks and island banksters underwater!
    / Sarc off
    Seriously tomorrow will dawn the ocean will be the same depth as yesterday and the sun will shine as usual on the doom, gloom and the users on Tuvalu and the egg on their face warmers!

  75. bushbunny says:

    F.Wulf at 4.43 pm. It is true, that New Zealand and Australia have given assistance, they sent fresh water at one time. An Tuvula asked both countries to take them in but not as refugees, and train them for jobs. Not sure how that went?

  76. Gunga Din says:

    Hmmm …. The “Super Moon” has passed here in in Ohio. I haven’t checked the time zones to see if it’s still impemding in Tuvalu but I haven’t heard anything about islands being submerged yet. Maybe the declining number of satelites has slowed down the news?

  77. Brian H says:

    An early effort by the Toovaloovians to get on the rent train was thru the Dotcom Boom; you may have seen a few outfits in the television biz with the .tv domain. It was going to be a perpetual cashcow of feenominal proportions. But … not so much.

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