The Lunar Geophysical Connection

The conjecture out of NASA JPL is that the moon has an impact on the climate greater than is currently understood:

Claire Perigaud (Caltech/JPL)
Has this research gone anywhere?  Looks as if has gone to this spin-off.
According to the current consensus, variability in wind is what contributes to forcing for behaviors such as the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
OK, but what forces the wind? No one can answer that apart from saying wind variability is just a part of the dynamic climate system.  And so we are lead to believe that a wind burst will cause an ENSO and then the ENSO event will create a significant disruptive transient to the climate much larger than the original wind stimulus. And that’s all due to positive feedback of some sort.
I am only paraphrasing the current consensus.
A much more plausible and parsimonious explanation lies with external lunar forcing reinforced by seasonal cycles.

The cyclic lunisolar forcing can explain three geophysical behaviors — a solid-related process (Chandler wobble), an atmospheric process (QBO), and an oceanic process (ENSO).
The Chandler wobble connection is obvious once one understands how a monthly (and fortnightly) Draconic lunar cycle can interact with an annual (and semi-annual) reinforcement. Thus the Draconic fortnight of 27.2122/2 days will precisely physically alias with the annual cycle to generate the ~433 day (1.1848 year) Chandler wobble period.
This is essentially a binary result — if you believe that a periodic nodal lunar assist can generate a polar axial wobble as a forcing response to a rotating non-uniform triaxial shape such as the Earth, then this is a plausible conjecture.  However, if you don’t then you will try to ascribe it to a natural resonance due to the interior of the earth.  The latter is what the consensus says.
Next, consider the quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) of equatorial stratospheric winds.This has a characteristic cycle of ~2.36 years that precisely matches the Draconic month physically aliased against the annual cycle.
If as Lindzen said “it is unlikely that lunar periods could be produced by anything other than the lunar tidal potential”, then you would need to conclude that the moon’s gravitational forcing causes the QBO cycling.  A theoretical explanation for this behavior can be formulated by simplifying Laplace’s tidal equations along the equator. However, if you haven’t considered this rather parsimonious model, then you would likely ascribe another generic resonance process to the QBO behavior. That is indeed what the current consensus gives as the most plausible explanation to QBO.
Lastly, we come to ENSO. This is a bit more complex to reveal, and rightly so, as the lunar forcing to ENSO is complicated by an additional naturally observed process — that of a biennial modulation. Ever since Lord Rayleigh observed that a period doubling could occur over a temporally modulated vibration, this always needs to be considered as a possibility.  And this is indeed the key, as two lunar cycles, the Draconic and Anomalistic, interact with the biennial modulation to create a close emulation of the ENSO behavior.
A very short training interval can reveal the periodicity of the entire ENSO time-series.
The model fit to the two periods is sharp, as any deviation from the periods reduces the correlation of the model to the data markedly.
The biennial modulation is not easily dismissed, as it has been often cited as a plausible mechanism in climate circles, while also observed in tidal data. And one can go back several hundred years in coral proxy data to isolate this same pattern.
Even though the ENSO time-series appears noisy, the lunisolar model appears just as credible as the Chandler wobble and QBO examples, since it identifies the intervals that are the most uncertain in agreement with an orthogonal correlation.
And this really has nothing to do with the wind, as the consensus seems to think, unless one considers that the Draconic forcing applies to both a wind behavior (QBO) and a sloshing behavior (ENSO), thus obscuring the cause from the effect.
A lunisolar explanation is both plausible and parsimonious.

That essentially summarizes why the rejected NASA JPL proposal has merit beyond the consensus view.  The fact that three geophysically distinct behaviors each reduce to a precise lunisolar alignment leads to the conclusion that the moon has a significant contribution to make, well beyond being a coincidence.  And this is the furthest one can get from the typical climate science hand-waving argument, as each fit can be numerically reproduced by anyone with spreadsheet.

6 thoughts on “The Lunar Geophysical Connection

  1. Pingback: ENSO model fit 1880-1980 | context/Earth

  2. Pingback: ENSO forcing – Validation via LOD data | context/Earth

  3. Pingback: Confirmation Bias | context/Earth

  4. Another NASA JPL researcher spinoff, S.L. Marcus

    Does an Intrinsic Source Generate a Shared Low-Frequency Signature in Earth’s Climate and Rotation Rate?

    Another NASA JPL researcher spinoff, J.H. Shirley
    Solar System Dynamics and Multiyear Droughts of the Western USA


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