What else does our moon influence?

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Offline tumbler

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What else does our moon influence?
« on: 23/06/2010 10:30:02 »
Rick Paulson  asked the Naked Scientists:
Thanks for providing newbielink:http://www.thenakedscientists.com/HTML/podcasts/ [nonactive]!

Here's a question:
"We can see the effects of the moon's gravitational force in the ocean tides. What else does our moon influence?"
Rick Paulson
Oregon, USA

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 23/06/2010 10:30:02 by _system »


Offline RD

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What else does our moon influence?
« Reply #1 on: 23/06/2010 13:12:28 »
The moon stabilises Earth's obliquity, i.e. maintains constant seasons over geological time, (unlike on other planets who do not have a relatively big moon).

Here we investigate the stability of the Earth's orientation for all possible values of the initial obliquity, by integrating the equations of precession of the Earth. We find a large chaotic zone which extends from 60 to 90 in obliquity. In its present state, the Earth avoids this chaotic zone and its obliquity is essentially stable, exhibiting only small variations of plusminus 1.3 around the mean value of 23.3. But if the Moon were not present, the torque exerted on the Earth would be smaller, and the chaotic zone would then extend from nearly 0 up to about 85. Thus, had the planet not acquired the Moon, large variations in obliquity resulting from its chaotic behaviour might have driven dramatic changes in climate. In this sense one might consider the Moon to act as a potential climate regulator for the Earth.

« Last Edit: 23/06/2010 13:17:30 by RD »