JoNova

A science presenter, writer, speaker & former TV host; author of The Skeptic's Handbook (over 200,000 copies distributed & available in 15 languages).


Handbooks

The Skeptics Handbook

Think it has been debunked? See here.

The Skeptics Handbook II

Climate Money Paper


Advertising

micropace


GoldNerds

The nerds have the numbers on precious metals investments on the ASX



Archives

Books

Supermoon today — Moon at closest point for 70 years. [News: 7.9 Quake hits New Zealand]

BREAKING: Massive magnitude 7.9 earthquake hits New Zealand tonight at midnight local time. 90km North of Christchurch. Thankfully, so far there are no reports of injuries or deaths. UPDATE: One Two deaths now reported. The quake was rated 7.4 initially but upgraded to 7.9 by Geoscience Australia. The small tsunami is expected to reach Australia around now (3 – 4am AEST).  Many New Zealanders were evacuated and moved to higher ground for fear of the tsunami estimated at 2.5 – 5m.  For more see NZ TV News and Twitter: #Earthquake. Maybe it’s connected to the full moon, maybe it isn’t. Best wishes to all our New Zealand readers.

UPDATE: Another strong 6.4 Earthquake has hit NZ, and a lot of small ones.

UPDATE: Clarence River got blocked, a lake formed, and has breached due to the quake. There were possibly two simultaneous quakes at midnight last night. In 2010 the fault rupture was about 30km long. This time it was about four times as long (about 3:30ish on the video). There have been over 400 aftershocks small earthquakes. h/t Tom.

UPDATE: NZ Geo’s say the big quake was 7.5.  They are clocking up the aftershocks by the minute here! [...]

Mystery of the dark side of the moon solved after 55 years

Filed under: A Curiosity for a Friday

The far side (left) does not look like the near side (right) there are no maria or “seas” on the far side.

For 55 years some people have wondered why the near and far side of the moon look so different. (I can’t say it had occurred to me, but the answer is very cool anyway.) The far side of the moon has none of the dark flatter pans or seas called maria – instead it is covered from top to bottom with craters.

What I find even more amazing is that the Earth and Moon have been locked in an orbital dance where the same side of the moon always faces the Earth, round and round, and it goes on for billions of years. (Yes, and how do they know, I also wonder, but there is an answer below.) In any case, here’s a new theory that might explain the difference between the near and far sides. It’s very neat.

The Earth and Moon have a rather extraordinary relationship. Not long ago we heard how the gravitational tidal forces between them are so strong it causes tidal bulges in the rock [...]

Earth creates tides in the rock that is the Moon

Earth from the Moon | NASA

Thanks to the Earth’s gravitational pull, the Moon is slightly egg shaped. The closest part bulges out by 51cm towards the Earth, and here’s the weirdest thing, the bulge moves.  The same side of the Moon always faces Earth, but if you stood on the Moon, the Earth would appear to wobble around a particular patch of “moon-sky”. And like a tide of rock, the bulge in the surface, slowly rolls around on the Moon –  following the pull from the Earth.

The ball of rock called the Moon is  3,474 km in diameter. I’m guessing the Man-on-the-Moon would not notice the tide much.

Though I imagine it will be a right headache for future Moonville Skyscrapers.

Despite  the force required to deform a ball of rock that large, and from such a distance, climate models in their infinite wisdom know that the science is settled and the Moon has no significant effect on Earth.

You might recall that Ian Wilson has other ideas, and suggests lunar cycles set up atmospheric standing waves which may seed ENSO patterns.

And we wonder why those models don’t work?

[...]

Can the Moon change our climate? Can tides in the atmosphere solve the mystery of ENSO?

Image by Luc Viatour  www.Lucnix.be

The Moon has such a big effect — moving 70% of the matter on the Earth’s surface every day, that it seems like the bleeding obvious to suggest that just maybe, it also affects the air, the wind, and causes atmospheric tides. Yet the climate models assume the effect is zero or close to it.

Indeed, it seems so obvious, it’s a “surely they have studied this before” moment. Though, as you’ll see, the reason lunar effects may have been ignored is not just “lunar-politics” and a lack of funding, but because it’s also seriously complex. Keep your brain engaged…

Ian Wilson and Nikolay Sidorenkov have published a provocative paper, Long-Term Lunar Atmospheric Tides in the Southern Hemisphere. It’s an epic effort of 14,000 words and a gallery of graphs. As these atmospheric tides swirl around the planet they appear to be creating standing waves of abnormal air-pressure that slowly circle the planet, once every 18 years. If this is right, then it could be the key to finally understanding, and one day predicting, the mysterious Pacific ENSO pattern that so affects the global climate. Even at this early stage, brave predictions are on [...]

The Moons’ influence on the atmosphere over Australia

We know the moon changes our tides, but can it also change our rainfall? Could the moon also cause tides in the atmosphere? Some researchers have found such periodic movements in air above 3000m. Some have suggested that the moon drives the cyclical shifts in the Length of Day (LOD) that occur on a fortnightly and seasonal basis.

Ian Wilson has been scouring the data quietly for years, following these ideas, and has found a link between lunar cycles and the sub tropical high pressure ridge that occurs in summer over the East Coast of Australia. He noticed there were 9.4 and 3.8 year cycles which match periods in spring tidal cycles. What matters is how close the full moon is to perhelion (the  closest point Earth comes to the Sun).  It’s yet another piece of the puzzle that the IPCC favoured models ignore.

The lunar forces are, not surprisingly, smaller than the solar one, and as the abstract points out: “it is not so much in what years do the lunar tides reach their maximum strength, but whether or not there are peaks in the strength of the lunar tides that re-occur at the same time within the annual [...]