Moon Phases Affect Rainfall On Earth, Study Finds

Posted: Jan 31 2016, 11:50pm CST | by , Updated: Feb 1 2016, 9:08pm CST, in News | Latest Science News


Moon Phases Affects Rainfall on Earth, Study Finds
Photo Credit: Getty Images

A new study shows a connection between the tidal force of the moon and rainfall on Earth.

It has been widely believed that the moon is an object with extraordinary powers and its gravitational force can bring certain changes on Earth. Now there is research supporting this idea. 

Researchers from the University of Washington have found that the moon has an effect on rainfall on Earth (though the influence is minimal).When the moon is high in the sky, it creates ‘bulges’ and causes slight changes in Earth’s atmosphere, which eventually affects the amount of rain that falls below.

“As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall.”Tsubasa Kohyama, one of the authors of the study said

For the study, researchers closely looked at the atmospheric waves and noticed slight oscillation or regular back and forth movement in the air pressure. This gravitational tug also has an impact on rainfall.

When the moon is overhead, its gravity causes the Earth’s atmosphere to rise, so the air pressure on that side of the planet goes up. Higher pressure increases the temperature of air pockets below. Since warmer air can hold more moisture, the affected air parcels or pockets need more moisture to reach the desired capacity or to make rain.

“It’s like the container becomes larger at high pressure,” said Kohyama. Increased moisture capacity in high pressure regions leads to lower humidity and “Lower humidity is less favorable for precipitation.”

This is the first study to associate rainfall with the phases of moon but the link between air pressure change and lunar phase was first detected in 1847 through ground based observations. 

Kohyama and other researchers involved in the study spent two years to track down the phenomenon. They analyzed 15 years of data collected by NASA and Japan’s Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Satellite from 1998 to 2012 to find that rain is slightly less when the moon is high, though the change is just 1 percent of the total rainfall.

Researchers are planning to continue exploring more aspects of the topic. For instance, what kind of effect phases of the moon has on heavy down pouring or whether the intensities of rainstorms are also influenced by the pull of the moon?

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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