The moon and the weather

Getting on with Climate Change, a word of congratulations for the editor Jennifer Marohasy. Editors are the unsung heroes of the publishing industry and when they do their job well they are invisible to the readers. To be done properly the editor has to have command of the English language and the subject matter and pay unfailing attention to details. I second the Foreword which pays tribute to the singular efforts of Ms Marohasy and the other 700 or so people who were involved one way or another in the production.

She noted that there is no unifying theory of climate. Like Agricultural Science it is a mixed or integrative discipline that draws on all the branches of the natural sciences and political economy when policy is involved. It may have been Richard Lindzen or Garth Paltridge who remarked that there are very few real climate scientists in the sense of people with a grip across a range of the relevant disciplines. Mostly they are trained in one area or another and have no more (and most likely less) perception of the bigger picture than any well trained Agricultural Scientists or Engineer.

Being a mixed discipline there are some surprises in the collection and if you are on the dole or retired with nothing useful to do you can read all the 22 chapters and learn a lot of things that you never thought you wanted to know. Like the various cycles of the moon, the strange history of the Melbourne weather station and the dodgy handling of weather records by the authorities. I was going to write “the responsible authorities” but it seems that they have been irresponsible.

Ken Ring wrote a chapter on “The Role of the Moon in Weather Forecasting”. He learned the hard way, coached by Maori fishermen on the wild east coast of New Zealand where he set fishing nets every day for ten years. He was lucky that he got interested just as the moon was entering a period when the three main cycles were aligned and the effects were more defined than usual. The three cycles are the phase, the perigee and the declination.

I suppose everyone knows about the 29.5 days phase cycle from new moon to full moon with moonrise approximately 50 minutes later each day. The perigee (27.5 day cycle) refers to the variable distance of the moon from the earth depending on the point of the elliptical orbit where the moon is located. Perigee (close to the earth) creates the king tides, adding as much as a third to the average tidal height. The declination has a 27.3 day cycle and this is where it starts to get really complicated for example declination itself cycles over a period of 18.6 years.

Each of the three cycles contribute to the weather and there is a section on long range forecasting based on lunar cycles. He also described the atmospheric tides that ebb and flow each day. The details are too numerous to summarise and those who are curious should buy the book or find a shop where it is sold and read selected passages there. In that event you should play fair and make a (tax deductible) donation to the Institute of Public Affairs.

People who really enjoy interesting and complicated cycles should refer to the Melankovitch cycles which are important for longterm climate change.

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11 Responses to The moon and the weather

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    A fun fact is that the Moon raises tides in the atmosphere as well as the ocean.

    Does the Moon have a tidal effect on the atmosphere as well as the oceans?

    Rashid Akmaev, a research scientist at the University of Colorado, explains.
    The short answer is yes, and at various times this question of lunar tides in the atmosphere occupied such famous scientists as Isaac Newton and Pierre-Simon Laplace, among others. Newton’s theory of gravity provided the first correct explanation of ocean tides and their long known correlation with the phases of the moon. Roughly a century later it was also used to predict the existence of atmospheric tides when Laplace developed a quantitative theory based on a tidal equation now bearing his name.

    It’s not a huge effect but often with such oscillatory forcing you don’t know whether there’s a resonance amplification going on (think of the famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge).

    There’s a wiki on atmospheric tides.

  2. Herodotus

    I realised how good and necessary the IPA had become when it was cast as the source of evil and pizza during the ABC segment of Senate Estimates by that leading exponent of political matters, dropped-in Senator Keneally.

  3. Herodotus

    Kindle edition $8.80 and will show graphs properly in colour on tablet or PC, but not on Kindle devices which are usually B&W only.

  4. OneWorldGovernment


    It always amuses me when ‘folk’ go on about rising sea levels.

    It’s the same as calculating the ‘average’ temperature or CO2 levels.

    Like I’ve always said, if the climate change ‘modelers’ can’t pick next weeks Lotto numbers then their work is pure speculation.

    And to think that we have dumb, ignorant legally ‘trained’ politicians making spending decisions for our “benefit”.

  5. Elizabeth (Lizzie) Beare

    A word about our ‘editors on the right’ – I know from personal experience as well as from the magazine’s quality output that Keith Windschuttle and Roger Franklin do sterling work for Quadrant and Quadrant Online respectively, picking up typos, ensuring correct names are used when referencing a person or event, removing redundancies and suggesting improvements. Working on a magazine for which our Liberal government does not see fit to ensure any funding (previous funding has been withdrawn by the Australia Council to redirect to a lot of leftist nonsense) these two editors keep to the high editorial standards on which Quadrant has long staked its reputation. Unsung heroes.

  6. Mark M

    A LUNAR eclipse is nothing unusual. Usually.
    But the one due on July 28 is somewhat different.
    It will fall under the Earth’s shadow for four hours.

    The eclipse totality — when the pall of Earth’s shadow completely blanks out what would otherwise be the Moon’s silvery surface — will last one hour and 43 minutes.

    That will make it the longest Lunar eclipse to be experienced this century.

  7. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    I am surprised scientists haven’t cried ‘HERETIC!!!’ I remember reading an article 20 or more years back about an Australian study which claimed to look at the effect of the full moon and ‘lunacy’. The scientists claimed to prove no such link existed, but the published numbers showed that there were more people behaving anomalously on full moons, than otherwise. I think it was 60 incidents in the dark phase, up to 80 incidents at full moon, and then back to 60. Not great numbers, but consistent enough to show a pattern.
    That was not how the scientists presented it, though. I believe they were biased against any lunacy theory, so they couldn’t help saying, “Nothing to see here, folks! Move along!”

  8. OneWorldGovernment

    Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray
    #2755453, posted on July 5, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    If you are saying that most climate scientists are raving mad then I agree.

  9. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Whilst I would favour ‘biased’ over ‘raving mad’, I think we share similar sentiments.

  10. Chris

    I have the Kindle edition, on my phone Kindle reader so in colour. I just read the first chapter on the Reef, and unless my eyes are deceiving me there are a few capital letters fewer than an editor should let through.

  11. Chris

    these two editors keep to the high editorial standards on which Quadrant has long staked its reputation. Unsung heroes.

    I confess I dropped buying the IPA review after a certain writer repeated a slander of Jane Fonda betraying US prisoners in Vietnam and had to withdraw it. One bad mistake costs a lot of trust.

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