Study claims: Phase of the moon affects amount of rainfall

From the UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON

Satellite data over the tropics, between 10 degrees S and 10 degrees N, shows a slight dip in rainfall when the moon is directly overhead or underfoot. The top panel shows the air pressure, the middle shows the rate of change in air pressure, and the bottom shows the rainfall difference from the average. The change is 0.78 micrometers, or less than one ten thousandth of an inch, per hour. CREDIT Tsubasa Kohyama/University of Washington

Satellite data over the tropics, between 10 degrees S and 10 degrees N, shows a slight dip in rainfall when the moon is directly overhead or underfoot. The top panel shows the air pressure, the middle shows the rate of change in air pressure, and the bottom shows the rainfall difference from the average. The change is 0.78 micrometers, or less than one ten thousandth of an inch, per hour. CREDIT Tsubasa Kohyama/University of Washington

When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below.

New University of Washington research to be published in Geophysical Research Lettersshows that the lunar forces affect the amount of rain – though very slightly.

“As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall,” said corresponding author Tsubasa Kohyama, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences.

Kohyama was studying atmospheric waves when he noticed a slight oscillation in the air pressure. He and co-author John (Michael) Wallace, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences, spent two years tracking down the phenomenon.

Air pressure changes linked to the phases of the moon were first detected in 1847,and temperature in 1932, in ground-based observations. An earlier paper by the UW researchers used a global grid of data to confirm that air pressure on the surface definitely varies with the phases of the moon.

“When the moon is overhead or underfoot, the air pressure is higher,” Kohyama said.

Their new paper is the first to show that the moon’s gravitational tug also puts a slight damper on the rain.

When the moon is overhead, its gravity causes Earth’s atmosphere to bulge toward it, so the pressure or weight of the atmosphere on that side of the planet goes up. Higher pressure increases the temperature of air parcels below. Since warmer air can hold more moisture, the same air parcels are now farther from their moisture capacity.

“It’s like the container becomes larger at higher pressure,” Kohyama said. The relative humidity affects rain, he said, because “lower humidity is less favorable for precipitation.”

Kohyama and Wallace used 15 years of data collected by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite from 1998 to 2012 to show that the rain is indeed slightly lighter when the moon is high. The change is only about 1 percent of the total rainfall variation, though, so not enough to affect other aspects of the weather or for people to notice the difference.

“No one should carry an umbrella just because the moon is rising,” Kohyama said. Instead, this effect could be used to test climate models, he said, to check if their physics is good enough to reproduce how the pull of the moon eventually leads to less rain.

Wallace plans to continue exploring the topic to see whether certain categories of rain, like heavy downpours, are more susceptible to the phases of the moon, and whether the frequency of rainstorms shows any lunar connection.

###

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the Tanaka Ikueikai Scholarship Society, and the Iizuka Takeshi Scholarship Foundation.

163 thoughts on “Study claims: Phase of the moon affects amount of rainfall

    • My mother cursed me with split infinitives grinding my gears. However, it must be wearing off because I only see one, “to convincingly connect”.

      • Nothing wrong with split infinitives. “To boldly go where no one has gone before.” Now swap the “boldly” and the “go” and see how weak it becomes. The split infinitive prohibition was invented by hidebound grammarians trying to make English like Latin, where they are impossible by the structure of the language.

      • JOE: How come Capt. Picard has no hair?
        MOE: I dunno. How come?
        JOE: It was a misunderstanding. He thought he was supposed to baldly go where no man has gone before.

      • @Brett
        I believe it was the prohibition on ending a sentence with a preposition that caused Churchill to wax poetic. Some underling thought he would tweak the Great Man by correcting the offense in the script of a speech he was to present. Winston sent the copy back with the original syntax restored and this comment: “This is the sort of interference up with which I will not put.”

    • “””””….. When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below. …..”””””

      Well they said it not me; the changes are imperceptible.

      Good ! lets’ get back to something real.

      Far as I know, the moon phase looks pretty much the same all over the earth at the same time; well when you can see the moon. But when you can’t it is still the same all over the earth (trust me).

      So now just where is the rainfall imperceptible change not going to be apparent when it isn’t apparent ??

      • Whew, this is good to know. Next time I am in the middle of the earth, I expect to be crushed from all sides.

      • When it’s raining and the moon is overhead, on average it’s raining a little less than when it’s raining and the moon isn’t overhead, but it’s raining a lot more than when the moon isn’t overhead and it isn’t raining, and it’s also raining a lot more than when the moon is overhead and it isn’t raining. Does that make it clearer? Good.

      • But then they said the changes were perceptible….around 1%
        Probably not significant but quite interesting

  1. When the moon is in the Seventh House
    And Jupiter aligns with Mars
    Then peace will guide the planets
    And love will steer the stars
    This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius
    Age of Aquarius
    Aquarius! Aquarius!
    Please, I’ve had enough AW of these “studys”!

      • Yeh, but wait there’s more!
        Harmony and understanding
        Sympathy and trust abounding
        No more falsehoods or derisions
        Golden living dreams of visions
        Mystic crystal revelation
        And the mind’s true liberation
        Aquarius! Aquarius!

      • Jay, are you remembering to let love steer your stars?
        BTW, all of the (classical) planets are aligned along the ecliptic and visible just before dawn these past few days. Cool site.
        Even cooler when the new moon passes by Venus and Mercury in a day or two.

    • A song about the precession of the equinox. Pertinent, I suppose, to a paper about celestial influences on the Earth.

    • Even worse, they mention that this result could be used to calibrate climate models.
      97% of scientists know that the climate models are already perfect and need no calibration. That kind of heresy shall not be tolerated.

    • It is really the more convincing with just two data points which invariably, continuously repeat and show a similar pattern.

    • “””””….. “As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall,” said corresponding author Tsubasa Kohyama, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences. …..”””””

      Take my advice Tsubasa;or Kohyama, whichever is your friendly name.

      Ain’t nobody going to pay you a dime to work for them to predict rainfall; so I would change my thesis subject if I was you.

      Otherwise you will just become one of the 65% of USA University PhDs in Physics who never ever get a full time job working in their field of expertise. You will just be the only person on planet earth who is interested in lunar induced rainfall.

      g

      • It induces it only for one part of each day, then it inhibits it, from the graph. So every day it cancels out to zero affect, overall. No?
        Am I reading that graph correctly?
        So there is no net effect at all. Just a waxing and waning, which is imperceptible.
        And yet they perceived it anyways.
        How much was the grant?

      • As I recall, “The Old Farmer’s Almanac” put a lot of store in the lunar phases as predictors of precipitation.

      • Yes, george e smith, I quite agree really. The paper is quite convincing – but so what?? One percent difference between the two stages – not of earth-shattering importance. And of course it makes sense – our moon is answerable to a lot here on earth.

    • They said they used 15 years of data, for a function that should be happening twice a day. Sounds like a lot more than 2 data points.

  2. Anyone who discounts, out of hand, the idea that the moon affects the earth’s atmosphere is a fool.

  3. … and the bottom shows the rainfall difference from the average. The change is 0.78 micrometers, or less than one ten thousandth of an inch, per hour.

    ahh, might be a slight problem. Those readings are all over the place and <0.0001 inch difference ???

  4. There are a variety of weather parameters that the moon could affect. There may be differential effects in different locations/geographies.

    If you want to find significant effects, I guess it is best to try and identify those places affected most significantly and measure there.

    Maybe away from the tropics?? Into the higher latitudes??

  5. Effects of the lunar atmospheric tides were much studied in the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, you need mega datasets to measure the size of the effect. Remember that their claim is that when the moon is directly overhead/underfoot, the rainfall is more intense. How much more intense?

    An additional ten-thousandth of an inch per hour … be still my beating heart …

    My term for this kind of finding is that it is a difference that makes no difference. It’s real … but so what?

    w.

    • The so what is that a) at least they are looking and b) that they have found a result. Even negative results can be informative but a finding a very small figure is clearer than a negative result since , as you have noted yourself in looking at claims of solar signals, you can not prove a negative.

      You scoffed at this graph because the effect was tiny, failing to realise that was the point of what if represented. There is a solar effect in that data and it’s very small.

      https://climategrog.wordpress.com/tahiti_ssn_slpmatsst_cc/

      • Mike February 1, 2016 at 2:45 am

        The so what is that a) at least they are looking and b) that they have found a result. Even negative results can be informative but a finding a very small figure is clearer than a negative result since , as you have noted yourself in looking at claims of solar signals, you can not prove a negative.

        You scoffed at this graph because the effect was tiny, failing to realise that was the point of what if represented. There is a solar effect in that data and it’s very small.

        https://climategrog.wordpress.com/tahiti_ssn_slpmatsst_cc/

        Thanks, Mike. I assume you mean that there is a lunar effect, not a solar effect.

        Yes, they are looking, and yes, they found a result. But that doesn’t answer the “so what”? OK, we now know that there is a lunar effect on rain. I always assumed there was. based on my own experience. So now that it is scientifically established then … what’s next? How does this help us understand the climate?

        This is particularly true given the size of the effect. Now that we know the rainfall goes up and down by a hundredth of an inch per hour, what’s different?

        Sure, there’s the joy of the pure science, I understand that. But I prefer my science to lead somewhere. Where does this lead?

        Best regards,

        w.

      • Thanks Willis,

        Firstly no, the graph I linked is looking at SSN, MAT SLP and SST and similarly showed a very small signal.
        http://climategrog.wordpress.com/tahiti_ssn_slpmatsst_cc

        You may like to read the full article on rain , they suggest the method they developed could be applied to any atmospheric variable. They discuss some caveats.
        http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL067342/full

        Maybe they could adapt it to look at longer periods. I think that fact this kind of work is getting done and published in GRL is a significant step forward. IIRC that is the journal Mann and Jones were concerned about losing their control over in the FOIA emails.

        If others check this method and it can be shown not to attenuate the signal it is a useful addition to our understanding. If this is really the magnitude and it as a “so what ” amplitude, that is a meaningful result, not a “so what” result.

    • Southern Africa has a drought cycle in the summer rainfall region that follows the Metonic Cycle, meaning about nineteen years long with lots of excursions. It is also affected by the El Nino phenomenon.

      It has a sine wave form and a wet end plus dry peak. It may be caused by a combination of the effect detected by this research team at WU and the angle of the moon above the horizon.

      I had not considered the matter of the moon being on “the other side”. The Winter rainfall region, which includes Cape Town, has twice the frequency and 400 years of data. The sine wave shows up in time series analysis, clear As a bell.

      • If there is a meaningful gravitational effect from the moon on the atmosphere, it would manifest as a “wave” that circles the earth- or rather a bulge in the atmosphere that lags the rotation of the earth. Is that correct?

    • It seems it is way less than one ten thousandths of an inch…it is less than one ten thousandths of a centimeter, which is less than half an inch, which is, in turn, less than one ten thousandths of the length of an Olympic swimming pool!
      By my calculations, even the swimmer with the slowest time in Olympic swimming history would cover this amount of time in exactly nothing flat!
      And the total amount of rain represented is roughly the amount of water which clung to this same swimmers body when he got out of the pool after losing.
      Truly astounding!

      • Minor point: an Olympic pool is 50 meters long, 1 cm is a part in 5000 of that. Still mighty small.

      • Oops. Top of the head calcs before first cup of coffee are notoriously unreliable.
        I winder if the authors of the headline study had skipped their coffee?

    • >>An additional ten-thousandth of an inch per hour …
      >>be still my beating heart …

      But do you get more rain during spring tides rather than neap tides, that is the $64,000 (grant application) question…..? /sarc

      R

    • How does one even measure one-ten-thousandth of an inch? What are the error bounds on such a measurement? I know the law of large numbers can be invoked to claim the error bars are tiny, but I don’t have a rain gauge that can measure quite that precisely. I can imagine one that might, but then a strong wind or even a truck driving by on a nearby road might throw off the readings. Difference without a distinction indeed.

      • This reminds me of when I took analytical chemistry, and had to weigh stuff using a scale that measured to four or five decimal places. The lab was in a room with a cement slab floor, and the bench holding the scales was 4 inch thick stone. Of course the scale was enclosed by glass to keep one’s breathe from affecting the scale. But even with a cement floor and a thick stone bench, if someone walked across the floor, you could watch the scale move. Now, that was ten thousandths of a gram, not a distance measure, but still.
        Ten thousandths of an inch are small amounts.

      • Menicholas (replying to Owen in GA)

        Ten thousandths of an inch are small amounts.

        But to a good machinist, ten thousandths of an inch is a large ball field to work and run around in, with plenty of tolerance on both sides of the metal to work with. To him or her cutting steels, 1/10 of one thousandth of an inch is a small distance, but even that can be worked accurately if needed. To a soccer forward, the goal’s 8 yards width by 8 feet high are very tiny, but the same size to a goalie defending her turf, those same dimensions suddenly become immense.

        The CAGW alarma-climastrologist community of political government bureaucrats are determined to destroy the world’s people by looking at 1/100 of one degrees … and extrapolating that straight line into destruction and death. For others. And riches and power. For them selves and their leaders.

      • True, of course, that something you can hold in your hand and put a micrometer on is easier to measure than something that can only be looked at but not touched. I do work with machinery that must be manufactured to close tolerances, but not at that scale of fineness.
        I have a very well made micrometer caliper I keep in my truck, and have noticed that even with it, it is easier to measure somethings than others.

      • RACookPE1978,

        Indeed I have worked with finely machined items that measured distances in 10^-14 meters (wavelength differences), but we cheated by actually measuring beats across 1,000s of wavelengths. Extremely machined glass and gear works to make that work out.

        For measuring rates in the 1/10000 inches per hour, one would need a rain gauge with a dump bucket setup that was tiny compared to the collection area. This means either a collection area on the gauge in the couple of meters diameter with a standard sized self emptying apparatus or a standard sized collection area with dump buckets the size of an ant’s thimble. The collection math is doable on the large collection diameter but there is also the problem that as the collection apparatus switches from one receptacle to the other when it dumps, some small amount is splashed away without being measured. That could easily account for 1/10000 of an inch. If we went with the highly machined ant’s thimble approach, the slightest vibration could tilt the buckets and read some extra rainfall that never happened.

        I am not sure anyone wants to spend $100,000++ on a highly machined rain gauge.

      • I can change that last to 10^-11 meters. We never got to the .0001 angstrom precision – that would be something we would have loved though – hard to characterize the thermal spreading of the quantum state transitions without that precision sometimes. I flipped my frequency and wavelengths on the numbers.(that is what I get for going from memory and shooting from the hip)

    • I find it interesting because it indicates an effect of gravity on temperature and therefore the rainfall , supporting my conclusion , cemented by HockeySchick’s computations , that gravity is the only force which can explain why and by how much the bottoms of atmospheres are warmer than their tops . Electromagnetic phenomena can’t defeat the Divergence Theorem and “trap” heat energy .

  6. Well they’ve only just scratched the surface of the subject , but at least this seems to be an opening for some real study of natural variability.

    Now they need to look at much longer time-scales to see effects on decadal variability and it will be more than the tiny effect they found here.

    The 9.1 year lunar cycle stands out clearly in the cross correlation of ACE and SST.

    http://judithcurry.com/2016/01/11/ace-in-the-hole/

  7. Other factors may create a lunar periodicity in rainfall.

    For example, at high tide the sea spreads out over the lands increasing the surface area. That should increase evaporation. Of course the areas is very small relative to the Ocean. But the mechanical breaking of waves is far greater at the shore.

    Lunar effects on the water cycle seem reasonable. But it doesn’t seem simple.

    • Less rainfall when the moon is high in the sky or underfoot. Anyway, the moon is high in the sky somewhere at every moment.

      • And as anyone who has spent time watching the moon and tides realizes, the tide is not high when the moon is directly overhead. There is a notable lag in the bulge of water that the moon creates as the Earth revolves beneath it. Several hours.
        They seem to be saying there is no such lag for the rain tide.

      • Menicholas,

        But they are claiming the atmospheric tides as the mechanism. I have not seen tables on the atmospheric bulge, but would imagine that the time delay would be much smaller due to the greater mobility of the atmosphere. I still don’t think it is precisely 0, but it could be in the less than quarter hour range.

      • Owen, thank you. Yes, I was thinking the same thing.
        But it just occurred to me…did they say if this result was “robust”?
        Sorry if i am having trouble taking this study seriously.
        I am not at all doubting that there are tides, and of course gravity pulls on the air, and the water in the air, just like it does on the ocean. I am just looking at the magnitude of these measurements and wondering if this is a figment of someone’s imagination.
        Compared to other factors, this amount would seem to be easily swamped by so many other ripples and eddies on the turbulent flow inside of thunderstorms.

      • Menicholas,

        I won’t disagree with that assessment. It does seem like an effect that would be washed out by other factors by orders of magnitude. I wonder if a signal was teased out of the noise because “it had to be there”.

        I once chased a phantom signal in a receiver that turned out to be a bad power supply capacitor allowing the 400 Hz aircraft bus through to modulate the IF channel. For some reason I had convinced myself that since it wasn’t 60 Hz it couldn’t be a power issue…that was a wasted day, but I did give my boss a laugh watching me try to figure out what in the environment was generating that signal (I was a cocky 23 year old and he was the seen-everything 45).

  8. “When the moon is high in the sky”

    Not clear what the press release paraphrasing is referring to here. It may well be they were studying lunar declination angle. They will probably find lunar anomalistic month is at least as important.

  9. ‘When the sunspot and lunar cycles coincide there are distinct rainfall peaks. The 18.6 year Lunar cycle created flood years in Central Victoria in 1954-6, 1973-5, 1992-3 and 2010-11

    ‘The 2010-11 floods in northern Australia reflected a peak lunar rain-enhancement cycle. This particular lunar cycle was strongly enhanced by the closely synchronised 19.86 year Jupiter-Saturn Synodic Cycle.’

    Kevin Long

      • I’ve been saying for a long time that investigation of the long term lunar cycles is essential to understanding decadal climate but that pdf is strong on assertion and not much else.

        I think that perigee full moon happening at the equinox when the sun and moon align over the tropics is a key factor in the development of the current El Nino conditions. However that pdf would not convince me.

        Lunar orbits are several in number and how all the different periods interact is complex. If we are finally moving away from fitting straight line “trends” to everything we may start to get somewhere.

      • Nice forcast of the present el Nino from Kevin Long on that link, from Jan 2014 (presuming no updates have been made). Did anyone else in the climate-weather make such a long-range forecast?

        R

      • Ralf no updates have been made and I take his prediction on the cooling fairly seriously.

        ‘However as soon as the next El Nino anomaly dissipates, during 2016 the most rapid global cooling trend for two centuries should become very obvious to all.’

        Adding weight to the prediction of a 2017 tipping point is Dr David Evans (mathematician and Jo Nova’s off sider) who has become involved in a cooling futures venture. James Delingpole has the story up and he just bought a single share in this venture.

        If they are correct then AGW will become dead meat within a few years and the revolution begins.

  10. The idea doesn’t sound totally lunatic to me, but

    “When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below.”

    If the changes are imperceptible, how can anyone know they are there? Or does that mean “imperceptible except by use of special equipment or statistical analysis”? If so, “tiny” would be more succinct.

  11. For what it’s worth in the anecdote department: During DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM I was in a Marine tank unit a few miles in from the Persian Gulf (or the Arabian Gulf, depending on who you’re talking to) in Saudi Arabia. Most of the time there was no noticeable influence from the Gulf, but on nights with a full moon we would get thick fog, with water condensing on our camouflage netting and dripping onto our gear. It was brutally hot most of the time, so we noticed any change in the weather.

    I cannot think of what the causal link is between a full moon and any other time, and the result is the opposite of this study… but I know what I experienced in September, October, November and December of 1990. By 1991 it was the rainy season and then the ground war, so I don’t recall any other events. Coincidence? Perhaps. But after the first time, we counted on it happening, and it did.

  12. Hmmm, this is a interesting statement

    “Instead, this effect could be used to test climate models, he said, to check if their physics is good enough to reproduce how the pull of the moon eventually leads to less rain.”

    Are they saying a climate models ability to duplicate their findings are a test of of said models utility?
    Meaning that if a model does not generate the 0001 rain fall difference it is a failed model? I have no problem with that.

    michael

  13. It all depends on what part of the earth you live in. I spent 15 years in what is now the Pacific Island Republic of Vanuatu, and I kept the local rainfall records for the Southern Island of Tanna for 10 years. Each years record tabulated on one page, showed a definite band of precipitation that followed the phase of the moon across the page. When I mentioned that to the old men of the village they all agreed that at the first quarter, when the thin bowl shape of the new moon starts to fill and the bowl tips over that’s when it lets go the rain.
    Here now, in New Zealand, many of us follow the long range predictions of Ken Ring, the Moon man.
    http://www.predictweather.co.nz/ArticleShow.aspx?ID=195 And he does it all with the moon. It all happens at a different phase, but it still Happens

  14. Rao, K.N. & Reddy, S.J., 1972b: Solar and lunar atmospheric tides in rainfall at Poona, Indian J. Met. Geophys., 23:535-536.

    Reddy, S.J., 1974: Lunar and solar atmospheric tides in surface winds and rainfall, Indian J. Met. Geophys., 25:499-502.

    Reddy, S.J. & Rao, K.R., 1976: Radiation and evaporation distribution over India, The Natl. Geog.. J. of India, Vol. XXII, Parts 1 & 2, [I.G.U Special Number, Moscow], 54-63.

    Also published few papers in that direction in geomagnetism also [both in national and nternational journals] at the same time.

    K. N. Rao was the one of the authors of “Climate Change” manual brought out by WMO in 1966.

    Of the four solar tides S1 to S4 only semi-diurnal tide [S2] is statistically significant. Only lunar semi-diurnal tide [L2] is significant. Amplitude of L2 is greater than S2. The maximum amplitude in the lunar daily variation of rainfall is near the phase 3 of the Moon. No regular variation is seen with the phases of the Moon.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
    .

  15. This is a bad press release. I believe the paper is speaking of a tidal effect, as in twice a day. The phase of the moon would only affect the local times of day when this effect occurs.

    • KennyDoug

      The sun and moon align to enhance the effect twice a month in the same way tides are. New moon means it is on the same side as the sun, pulling together.

  16. Oh sheesh! The moon affects this rock, serial? Trick question; what does the lunar cycle and the female menstrual cycle have in common? About 28 days!!!

    • It does, and if you try to determine high tide by noting position of the moon directly overhead, you will fail by several hours. Tidal bulges lag the moon in the sky.

      Pop quiz: What two places on the Earth have no diurnal tides to speak of?
      Answer: Florida Keys, and South China Sea near Vietnam.
      Why is this?
      Answer: It’s complicated.

      • The notion of “tidal bulges” is total fiction. It is a simplistic abstract notion to explain the tide raising forces. Once you stick the continents in place these ‘bulges’ reflect and bounce around the ocean basins, creating complex tidal patterns that can have just about any phase relative to the physical passage of the moon.

        http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150033/

      • Note the way that some coastlines , like N. America and the tip of S. Am near Colombia, act as focusing reflectors. Compare the N. Am region to the position of the “The Blob” and how that phenomenon is now fading. Looks very much like an ocean wide slow tide.

        Notice the standing wave pattern in the Atlantic has peaks at the two polar extremes and on equator near Brazil. The different shape and size of the Pacific leads to different scale and hence different timings. This is why PDO and AMO are different.

        One day we will realise that El Nino/Nina is an basin wide slow tide.

      • For the upper Florida Keys locals semi-diurnal tides are real, they tend to swing about 1.5 feet.
        See http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/noaatidepredictions/NOAATidesFacade.jsp?Stationid=8723214

        For the lower Florida Keys mixed tides are the norm
        See http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/noaatidepredictions/NOAATidesFacade.jsp?Stationid=8724580

        Also see NOAA: “Types and Causes of Tidal Cycles”, at http://oceanservice.noaa.gov/education/tutorial_tides/tides07_cycles.html

        In my “Meteorology for South Florida and the Caribbean” page I carry tables of Moon Phases and Perigee and Apogee dates.
        See http://www.oarval.org/meteorologFL.htm

      • M: I’ve been thinking about tidal bulges lately because I’ve been rereading Feynman’s Physics Lectures and they appear to be the only thing he possibly got a bit wrong. I’m currently thinking that he’s right about tidal bulges in the solid part of the Earth, but wrong about the oceans. The problem is that while rocks are elastic and tidal bulges can propagate through the Earth which isn’t all that big, water is inelastic and also would have to travel around rather than through the planet. That’d seem to require a meter scale wave with a wavelength of about 20000 km and a period of 12 hours traveling East to West continuously around the equator. While tsunami waves can transmit energy at that sort of speed, they have much shorter wavelengths and get their water “locally”

        My belief is that tides — while undeniably real — are much more complex than a simple bulge racing around the planet. Most places have two tides a day. Some have one. A few have none. I think they probably are some sort of complex oscillation pumped by lunar and solar gravity, but strongly moderated by local topography.

        I could easily be way wrong on that. I’m really bad at physics.

      • Actually, after making my comment, which was made by my recollection of reading about this many years ago, I found that same chart posted above by Mike. It seems to differ quite a bit from what I had recalled.
        My comment was based on what I observed one week while camping in the Florida Keys. I was at a campground on Marathon Key just at the near end of the Seven Mile Bridge. The campsite was right on the water, and I noticed that the water was just about at the edge of beach made of coral rock, and the water level was about a foot below the campsites. After a few days it occurred to me that the water was barely moving at all, seeming to only rise and fall by maybe a half a foot, and not on a two times a day schedule. I was mystified by this, as my mental picture of tides was that typically depicted in idealized drawings in books.
        So when I got home (no wireless computer access via phone lines back in those days), I looked into it, and found an article that explained, as I recall, that the tides are much more complex than many realize, and that another spot like the Keys was off SouthEast Asia near Vietnam. I printed out the article and shared it with the people I had been camping with, and we were all very surprised.
        I had of course known that tidal ranges vary quite a bit, with some places having very strong tides (such as the famous Bay of Fundy), and some not as much, but had not been aware of the extent of the variation.
        I think now I must be misremembering the article quite a bit. But i do know that at Knights Key campground in May 2004, the tide barely budged a foot over the course of a week.
        Very interesting.
        Another thing that may be worth mentioning was some folk knowledge that I came across years before after buying some land in Pasco County Florida, where I built a plant nursery.
        While building a long fence one day (hog wire with barb wire at top and bottom, with landscape timber 3×5 posts), a local guy who was a neighborhood hay farmer stopped by and remarked that most people would never build a fence right then, as fence posts are known not to “set ” unless placed while the moon was waning…you had to wait until the moon was waxing. Now, I was in college just then, studying physical geography among other things, and was very amused by this…and probably said so, thinking he was joking. he was not, and said so, and walked off in a huff. Even after speaking to him later and finding out that the tides were the reason for this belief, I remained completely unconvinced, knowing that the tides occur all month long, and waxing or waning moon phases were not a very strong correlation, if any at all, to the strength of tides, even if one did suppose that tides could affect water tables to the extent that fence posts could be spit out of the ground. Besides, I reasoned, the posts would just sit and not set until the next waxing moon phase, would they not?

        I know people have an awful lot of peculiar ideas, and I have made a point not to believe anything for which a mechanism that made logical sense could be proven. And even then it was not any sort of proof, only a reason to suspect that there may be some reason to investigate further.
        That was 1984, and was the first fence I had ever built, having grown up in the downtown of a big city. The fence was a thousand feet long…and is still right where I put it…except for one post that got hit and blown up by lightning.

      • BTW, very cool to see what lightning will do to a pressure treated pine post…the resin in the wood could be seen to have boiled and exploded the wood into individual fibers.

      • Don K

        That’d seem to require a meter scale wave with a wavelength of about 20000 km and a period of 12 hours travelling East to West continuously around the equator.

        Tides would be a lot smaller on a water only planet. The reflected waves caused by the continents set up resonant patterns that make the amplitude build up.

        I can’t recall the exact figures but if there were not continents, there would be something more like the ideal ‘bulges’ but they would only few cm hight.

  17. “Air pressure changes linked to the phases of the moon were first detected in 1847,and temperature in 1932, in ground-based observations.”

    I’m always shocked (I guess I better get over it, it’s bad for my health) that modern students and scientists aren’t gracious in giving due credit for prior discovery. They give this statement above and then take right of discovery by hand waving and blathering about having spent two years confirming that air pressure changes occur with lunar tides. Egad, I just assumed it must be so!

    Water well levels drop when the moon passes over because bulging the earth upward increases the porosity of the underlying aquifers making more space for the water in it. This is much more significant than the effect on the rainfall (in the Mexico city area, because the ground below is largely volcanic ash, the water drops up to a metre). I did ground water piezometry along the right-of-way of the Greater Winnipeg Floodway 55 years ago as a young engineer and the ‘land’ tides were clearly present in the data.

    I haven’t read the paper, but I would surely hope that they referenced it and the prior work in India, including the work over 40 years ago of:

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
    February 1, 2016 at 3:26 am

    Real science used to be done as a matter of course and pride. I have two volumes of a three volume set of Sir Isaac Newton’s lectures beautifully illustrated. They were published in the 18th century. They were collected and put together a couple of decades after his death. I’m hard to impress with what I see being done these days.

    Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy
    February 1, 2016 at 3:26 am

    • In my studies I referred the following authors — used Chapman and Miller (1940) method to calculate amplitude and phases and Malin and Chapman (1970) method for the evaluation of vector probable error. Chapman (1948) evaluated lunar tides at Maritus and Harwitz and Cowley (1968) for four American stations. Manchly (1954), Adderly and Brown (1962), Brier (1962, 1965), Visage (1966), Harris et al. (1966), Seibert (1961).

      Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

  18. A great new ear in science when imperceptible changes in rainfall can now be perceived r even measured.

    Which means they can be adjusted when they do not obey.

  19. I am slightly confused by the opening lines,
    ‘When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below.’
    If the changes are imperceptible they can’t be measured so the Moon’s influence can’t be proved.

  20. When the moon is high in the sky, it creates bulges in the planet’s atmosphere that creates imperceptible changes in the amount of rain that falls below.

    ITYM ‘perceptible’.

    Science doesn’t deal with ‘ imperceptible’.

    There are imperceptible Unicorns at the bottom of my garden having sex with imperceptible fairies.

  21. Air pressure changes linked to the phases of the moon were first detected in 1847, and (near-surface) temperature in 1932, in ground-based observations.

    HA, t’was about a year ago that I posted a comment about the observed correlation between the Moon changing phases (to Full Moon or to New Moon) …. and the effect said phase change causing a predictable “increase” in near-surface temperatures ……. but Willis E responded to my comment with satirical rhetoric inferring that I was a wee bit “wacko” and ignorant in/of the Physical Sciences.

    • Ha, another charming fellow who wants to abuse my name for saying something, but doesn’t have either the common decency or the albondigas to link to what I actually said so we can find out if he’s telling porkies or not …

      Samuel, you’ve been reading this blog for a while. You must know that I don’t put up with your kind of vague accusations. Point us to your claimed conversation with me or stop whining—that kind of character assassination just make you look childish.

      w.

      • Willis, the only problem is that you know damn well that it was not a “vague accusation” on my part …… but was surely a “vague accusation” on your part for inferring that I am a dastardly devious dishonest person who launched a personal attack to defame your credibility.

        Ha, another charming fellow who wants to abuse my name for saying something, but doesn’t have either the common decency or the albondigas to link to what I actually said so we can find out if he’s telling porkies or not …

        HA, I now realize that I should have expended 3 hours searching for the above noted two (2) to three (3) year old posted comment prior to mentioning said in my above post ……. rather than referencing it in my above post and then expending the past 3 hours searching for the above noted two (2) to three (3) year old posted comment to discredit your accusation of me being untruthful and/or a liar. DUH, I do not save a direct link to every comment that I have ever posted on WUWT.

        And Willis, I know you well enough to know that you literally detest anyone or anything that questions the contents or context of your posted verbiage.

        And, spite of pride, in erring reason’s spite,

        One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.

        (Alexander Pope)

      • Samuel, you still have not given us either a quotation of my words or a link to whatever it was I said that prompted your first comment, wherein you claim I addressed you “with satirical rhetoric” etc.

        As a result, neither I nor anyone else knows what has you so exercised. Just what “satirical rhetoric” would you like to discuss, and why are you refusing to identify it? Perhaps I did you wrong, perhaps not … but you are withholding the very information we need to resolve the question.

        I can only reply by repeating what I said last time. Point us to whatever it is you are talking about. I can defend my own words. I cannot defend your personal interpretation of unknown words.

        w.

        PS—It is exactly this lack of information that I am calling a “vague accusation”. You have accused me of saying wrong things, but you have refused to tell me either what I said or where I said it. That’s vague.

      • Willis, you are 101% correct.

        I can not prove my “vague” accusation without a url link to my “Moon Phase” comment and/or your response to said. But I learned early on to be very careful “who” one admonishes or criticizes because such commentary is not permitted …… regardless if it is true and/or factual.

        HA, iffen there was a good logical “SEARCH” function for the data base then I could probably find the commentary in question via the use of “key words” ……….. if it still exists as entered on the data base.

        DUH, I attempted to search for postings with my name …. but it responded with “no entries found”. Utterly amazing, ….. HUH?

        Cheers, Sam C

  22. “When the Moon fills, so does the sky”. WOW! new science discovery!
    Farmers have known this for thousands of years
    Give these guys another larger grant.
    Maybe they would want to discover if the moons position has any effect on the local sea levels…pg

    • Well said. I saved many lives by correctly predicting a severe drought five years out in Swaziland in 1978. It only has to happen once to be very convincing. At the same time I predicted the heavy rainfall and look winter temperatures in 2011-2013, which also “came to pass”. Next up is a drought centered on 2021.

      • Crispin in Waterloo February 1, 2016 at 6:18 am

        Well said. I saved many lives by correctly predicting a severe drought five years out in Swaziland in 1978. It only has to happen once to be very convincing. At the same time I predicted the heavy rainfall and look winter temperatures in 2011-2013, which also “came to pass”. Next up is a drought centered on 2021.

        Without documentation, I fear this is just a boast. I also doubt very much that you correctly predicted low winter temperatures of 2012 way back in 1978.

        And if you think that “a drought centered on 2021” is an actual prediction, it’s not. A drought where? How deep a drought? How long a drought?

        You’re starting to sound like Piers Corbyn, who once predicted wildfires in Colorado, and claimed success when there were wildfires in Arizona … and he also predicted a 50% chance of a Pacific typhoon and claimed success when there was no typhoon.

        So I’m sorry, Crispin, but I’ve heard these kinds of claims before, and hey, guess what?

        I’m skeptical. Go figure.

        But heck, I’m willing to be convinced. All you need to do is to point us to where we can verify just what your predictions were at the time, and when you made them.

        w.

        PS—While it is easy to say “it only has to happen once to be very convincing”, there is actually an old saying about that illusion, which goes

        “Even a blind hog will find an acorn once in a while”

        So while it seems that you are all agog with your claimed success at finding one acorn, the rest of the world is not so easily impressed.

      • Perhaps I am wrong, but I took Crispin’s remarks to be tongue in cheek and not serious.
        Mr. Crispin?

      • Crispin, my thanks for bringing up the topic of African droughts. It led me to a most interesting overview of African droughts, which I’m still digesting.

        One finding was that from 1978 to the near-present (2013), there were five droughts recorded in Swaziland. These occurred in 1981, 1984, 1990, 2001, and 2007, and in total they killed 500 people.

        I also found out that by African standards this is a very, very small number. For example, over the same time period drought killed over 100,000 people in Mozambique alone …

        And I don’t mean to diminish the fact that your warning actually saved lives, that’s always a wonderful thing no matter how it happens.

        I’m just saying, I wouldn’t put a lot of weight on your prognostication method without further testing, even hindcasting.

        w.

      • Willis Eschenbach– I was in Mozambiques as FAO expert during 1984-1989/90. I used to present 10-day, monthly & seasonal bulletins. For the year 1987-’88 crop season drought condition for Mozambique. Presented before a committee headed by the Prime Minister, attended by UNDP Resident representative, FAO Resident Representative, ten developed nation [Ambassadors]. They accepted my report and UNDP Resident Representative asked me go round the country and verify the same and submit the final report. He [kept a] twin Engine jet for my visits as there is no way I can go by road as most of them were [mined] by rebels fighting against the government. I [submitted] my final report and the same was published in FAO Food Aid appeal. On request prepared a small note to President’s meet with the media and the same was briefed to the press by The President. Next Day an Agriculture Officer issued a note to press saying that his province is reeling under severe drought. Presnt ?Office enquired on this and the message was issued dismissing the official and posting another officer in his plays. All this happened in minutes.

        In 1984 I drove to Swaziland and purchased a new Volswagen Car and drove back [250 km]. There was no problem at that time. Within few days the situation changed. This affected the people in getting food from one region to another region.

        All my publications on Mozambique are the INIA library.

        Durban in South Africa, Mahalapye in Botswana and Catuane in Mozambique presented 66-year, 60-year and 54-year cycles along with sub-multiple. Though they differed in duration but followed the W followed by M pattern only. 2013 was a drought year. This was also true with northeast Brazil [52 year cycle] — all these are published.

        Dr. S. Jeevananda Reddy

        [“Presnt ?Office enquired” should be ??? .mod]

  23. Amateur astronomers usually prefer observing during periods when the moon is not present in the night sky (the last week or so of a waning moon or the first week or so of a new moon.) Many astronomers have remarked that it seems to be cloudier than usual during those times. Is it just that cloudier times are more commonly noticed then, or is the effect real? A search of astronomical literature might find that such a study has been done.

      • Yes, it has taken years to develop such a fine discrimination! I have also noticed that the mosquitoes are hungrier on observing nights. :)

    • Yes, and the bread always falls butter side down and it always rains at the weekend when it’s been sunny all week. ;)

  24. I for one am not buying this using only the data presented here.
    Selective data selection could explain this result very handily.
    Color me skeptical.

  25. To put another number into this discussion, I read years ago that the Queen Mary (the ship, not the person) was 30 pounds lighter under a full moon. From a Wikipedia entry I see that she displaced just under 82,000 tons (81,961 tons, to be exact).

    Ian M

    • My first reaction was. The moon warms the atmosphere. OMG, we’re all gonna die.

      How long until the usual voices demand that we nuke the moon, or send it off into space, or do SOMETHING?

  26. I was a bit surprised at the somewhat cool reception of this paper by a few commenters , because , although the practical effect is small , it immediately arouses the “what – if ” response. Eg what would the effect be on climate if the earth , like Venus , had no moon , or just 2 small rocks like Mars . And if the atmosphere bulges as a response , does the TOA emission fall , because the TOA is colder , increasing when the bulge passes , and could this give a rachet effect which , imperceptible daily, nevertheless has an observable effect after many 10s of thousands of cycles? Do Jupiter and Saturn have analogous effects on the Sun’s atmosphere?
    Also , until Mike above , supplied the link I was looking for it in the latest issue of Geophys Res Lett and found a few crackers of interest to people here , eg:
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL065074/full
    “A glimpse beneath Antarctic sea ice: Platelet layer volume from multifrequency electromagnetic induction sounding” Hunkler et al I have cherry picked this sentence from the abstract which will surely interest some here:
    “Our results suggest that platelet layer volume is higher than previously thought in this region and that platelet layer ice volume fraction is proportional to its thickness. We conclude that multifrequency EM is a suitable tool to determine platelet layer volume, with the potential to obtain crucial knowledge of associated processes in otherwise inaccessible ice shelf cavities.”

    There are other articles of interest to climate change fans or sceptics , such as one showing longterm rainfall increase in Sahel from 1985 (with multiyear variation superimposed- bad news: temporarily dropping for about next 2-3 years) .
    There is another on human influence on cold and warm record breaking episodes in Europe which seems to state that at present we are still within the realm of natural variability , but with the “business – as – usual” scenario model will see human influence on cold records dominant by 2020 and on warm records by 2030 (with uncertainty of +/- 20 years ). Not quite the impression given by the hysterical mass media and BBC.
    Well worth posting AW , thank you and a useful reminder that there is so much available in places like Geophys Res Lett and much of it open access.

  27. So if they are really “imperceptible,” first, how do we perceive them? Second, why should we care?
    I think the writer really meant to say “miniscule'” by the why should we care question remains hanging.

  28. Don K

    That’d seem to require a meter scale wave with a wavelength of about 20000 km and a period of 12 hours travelling East to West continuously around the equator.

    Tides would be a lot smaller on a water only planet. The reflected waves caused by the continents set up resonant patterns that make the amplitude build up.

    I can’t recall the exact figures but if there were not continents, there would be something more like the ideal ‘bulges’ but they would only few cm hight.

  29. I’m sure someone on this blog will be able to remove my confusion re this statement:

    When the moon is overhead, its gravity causes Earth’s atmosphere to bulge toward it, so the pressure or weight of the atmosphere on that side of the planet goes up. Higher pressure increases the temperature of air parcels below.

    If the atmosphere is drawn towards the moon, wouldn’t that create a thinning of the atmosphere and REDUCE the air pressure? The moon’s gravitational pull would draw that air towards it, not the surface of the earth underneath it to create higher pressures.

    I’m still pondering the higher pressure increasing temperature because the higher temp will thin out the air and counteract the higher pressure (as the atmosphere is an open vessel so no increase in pressure as would occur in a closed vessel) which stops the pressure/temp effect (then my mind shuts down).

      • Bob there’s a pretty good description of their method in the paper. If you want to check their work, go for it. Any paper requires validation by being reproduced so that would be useful.

      • Wish I had time . I’m working get out an accessible version of 4th.CoSy with some “marketing” material by MidWinter ( Thursday ) for the exremophiles out there . CoSy needs more heads .

        Computations like this will have to wait until the language is mature enough to express them as or more succinctly as in any traditional APL . Right now , it’s still on the raw Forth side more suitable for implementing complex algorithms in low power instrumentation .

        I haven’t even read HockeySchtick’s analysis in detail because I want to be able to implement his equations in 4th.CoSy as I go .

    • John in Oz. The moon doesn’t only pull the immediate atmosphere it pull atmosphere from either side, too. This means the bulge is more massive (higher pressure) than it was before.

  30. For the curious, here is NASA’s explanation of the tidal forces:
    To all outward appearances, the moon revolves around the earth, but in actuality, the moon and earth revolve together around their common center of mass, or gravity. The two astronomical bodies are held together by gravitational attraction, but are simultaneously kept apart by an equal and opposite centrifugal force produced by their individual revolutions around the center-of-mass of the earth-moon system. This balance of forces in orbital revolution applies to the center-of-mass of the individual bodies only. At the earth’s surface, an imbalance between these two forces results in the fact that there exists, on the hemisphere of the earth turned toward the moon, a net (or differential) tide-producing force which acts in the direction of the moon’s gravitational attraction, or toward the center of the moon. On the side of the earth directly opposite the moon, the net tide-producing force is in the direction of the greater centrifugal force, or away from the moon.
    http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/restles3.html

    These forces are used by XTIDE to predict tides and currents at locations around the world.
    http://tbone.biol.sc.edu/tide/index.html

    • Gentlemen, the initiation of this discussion was the phases of the moon, nothing to do with tides. The 28 days of lunar cycle, menstruations or not, do not fit with our 30 and 31 day monrhs and so our rainfall patterns slowly cycle up and down the months and Ken Ring the moon man has it to a tee! http://www.predictweather.co.nz/

  31. Yes, Jon, I found that a bit counter intuitive as well. It think it due to the press release, whoever wrote that. Read the paper, it available in full:

    It seems that they are saying that there is a pressure drop *before* the bulge arrives. That makes more sense. Contrary to the ocean tides which get pulled ahead of the moon by the rotation of the earth’s continental boundaries , leading to tidal drag, I think the atmospheric bulge will lag the passage of the moon in a more conventional way.

    Anthony: full paper and SI here, you may like to add that to the post.
    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015GL067342/full

  32. in 1913 Albert Michelson measured the force of gravity and showed simultaneously that the moon’s gravity makes the *earth* rise and fall – just not as much as the seas. Obviously the atmosphere is also subject to the tides, resulting in tidal variations of air pressure which should be small compared to the stochastic variations due to weather systems.
    I have to wonder how the rainfall rates in units of fractions of *micrometers per hour* are calculated when actual rainfall rates are measured in centimeters per hour – numbers over four orders of magnitude larger.

  33. Seem to remember reading in Farmers Almanac that the best time to plant seeds outside is with a waxing moon. Who knew!

  34. As a periodic buyer of forest cut fence posts in the tropics the woodsmen always tell me they have to wait for the “right” time of the moon or the posts will not last as long. One american bought beautiful looking posts the locals told me wouldn’t last because he rushed to have them cut before he flew home. The locals disdained the person who cut those posts without regard to the moon for not having been honest with that american.

    The rafters in my original farm building were also forest trees cut according to that moon lore, as have other rafters over the years, The jargon is they are “full” (heavy without moisture) & those stripped of bark for painting with used motor oil last even better (recycling isn’t just for the greenies).

    Old school medicinal plant extracts also synchronized with moon phase. For alcohol extraction (tincturing)the standard practise was to begin the plant matter immersion when the moon is new & then filter out the
    plant matter at the full moon. If the formulator wanted to (or circumstances intervened) let the extraction go longer then under no circumstances was the final filtering out to occur until a subsequent new moon or later. It was explained to me that building up to the full moon the alcohol solvent drew into itself good factors & after the full moon cycled in there was some reduction of desirable factors in the alcohol; supposedly (was told) the plant matter reabsorbs some desirable solutes & yet it may be related to ratio of desirable compounds solubilized.

  35. Mike Wallace has know about the Lunar Nodal cycle in precipitation records longer than I have.

    Furthermore, the Lunar Gravity field causes the solid earth to have a bulge toward the moon, which is in a locked orbit with the earth.

    This causes the earth center of figure to deviate significantly from the earth center of mass. And we enjoy plate tectonics.

    Ha ha

  36. Like many clime papers, they visit only half the area of interest. The bulge in the atmosphere is not just the air below the moon being drawn upwards. It is also the air dragged in from the sides of the bulge – this is why it is more massive and higher pressure. I would have thought thinking scientists with this problem would have also investigated the effect of the lowered pressure adjacent to the bulge to determine how much INCREASED rain there was. The real result to be found is that the rain didn’t diminish this tiny amount, it was redistributed. I guess no prizes for me, though for thinking superior to that of the authors.

    • I don’t understand why the bulge would create higher pressure. The bulge is created by the pull of gravity from the moon. So wouldn’t that pull offset a small portion of the Earth’s gravity that is equal to the mass of the bulge and therefore have little or no affect on the pressure below?

  37. Ken Ring has been making long range climate and rainfall predictions based on the phases and proximity of the moon for years.

  38. When the crescent is pointing upward, it is holding the rain, then as the crescent tips, the water spills out.

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