Ken Ring, the Moonman, and lunar science
THURSDAY AUGUST 12, 2010
Ken Ring is the author of over 25 books about weather and climate, including his Weather Almanacs for NZ which have been available from 1999 to 2010, UK - available 1999-2001, Australia available from 2006 - 2010 and now Ireland, first one 2010. Ken uses a combination of the orbits of the Moon and astrological techniques to come up with weather forecasts based on local cycles. He has a website www.predictweather.com which offers future weather reports for main towns in Australia and NZ. Ken’s business Predict Weather supplies affordable customized longterm reports to many farmers in Australasia and the UK.
You may have already seen Ken on Channel Seven's TodayTonight (he is their monthly longrange commentator), or heard him on radio stations such as 2UE and 2GB and ABC regionals. Because he uses the Moon, Ken's ideas about what generates and influences weather are a departure from mainstream science. Most meteorologists do not consider the Moon influential.
Non-western societies still use a lunar calendar. Historically this gave them a handle on the weather. If your monsoon fell on your June 30 one year, it would do so the next when the lunar year came back around. The Moon’s calendar year is 355 days. It is something that can be checked. Go to a newspaper library and look up the isobaric weather map of 355 days ago. In other words go back a year but come up 10 days. It will in many aspects match the map in this morning’s newspaper. Although temperatures will not exactly be a match, because 10 days is nearly half a month which puts temperatures askew due to the season's progression, the weather maps alone will give information about high and low pressure zones, also wind direction and force. This method is something anyone on the land can use to plan an outdoor event in advance. It is also a reason to save the weather pages from old newspapers in an easy-reach file.
Remember that there is a 24-hr leeway and these maps will not be exact because in any one day many different satellite “shots” are taken because the feed is from 6 satellites encircling Earth every ten minutes. Enough similarity may be seen though, to deduce that the Moon’s repeating year does organize repeating weather conditions. But meteorology (which derived from astrology) and the more modern study of climatology still distances itself from any working association with the pagan Moon, despite it being worshipped in other cultures for the cyclic measurement of the seasons that it used to provide. Even the word 'measurement' came from 'moon' and the first calendars were lunar. The Moon is so clockwork that in its returning to its same position with respect to the background stars, it loses merely 10 seconds per lunar year and 20 minutes in 150 solar years. Anyone possessing a watch with that precision would be well pleased. Through the keeping of ancient calendars extreme weather events like monsoons, typhoons, droughts and floods could be foretold. Some of these calendars were the stone circles like Stonehenge, really the laptops of their day. All were aligned to the Moon. Around the outer bank of Stonehenge, one foot represented one week of a giant 19-year circle. Marker sticks were erected to foresee coming weather 19 years hence. In all stone circles the remains can still be seen of encircling ditch/ moat systems that would have kept out unauthorized persons like children and animals, who would have knocked over the temporary markers.
If there was no moon
Before we discuss the idea of the Moon affecting weather, let us imagine if there was no Moon. Would the Earth's weather be any different if the Moon didn't exist? French physicists modeling the stability of the tilt of the Earth's spin axis have shown that our planet should have experienced dramatic and chaotic changes in tilt over its lifetime, as have the other terrestrial planets. However, the orientation of the Earth's tilt is locked into its present value (varying a paltry 1.3 degrees from the mean value of 23.3 degrees, so from 21deg to 24deg over 41,000 years) by the gravity of the Moon. Variations in tilt are thought to cause planetary ice ages and warm spells. The Moon has been described a climate regulator. If there were no Moon, or if it were much smaller, the Earth's tilt would reach values as high as 85 degrees, with disastrous consequences for any life forms trying to weather the resulting climate oscillations. The upshot is that if there was no Moon there would be no life as we know it on earth. It is the tilt of the earth, kept in check by the Moon, that causes the tides, the growing seasons and the barometric and therefore weather changes, all of which are essential to the development and maintenance of life.
4.5bn years ago when the Earth was formed, the day was about 7 hours per day/night cycle. One theory is that the Moon was created when a rock the size of Mars slammed into Earth. A billion years ago, the Moon's tighter orbit than now meant it took just 20 days to go around us to make a lunar month. A day on Earth back then was 18 hours long. At 100 million years ago Earth's rotation period had slowed to 23.6 hrs, not much different than today. In 5-10 billion years time, a year will be a day shorter.
The Moon has the same effect on the Earth whether it is day or night, just as tides do not stop just because it gets too dark to see. One ramification of not having the Moon as a companion would be changes in the tides. There would still be tides because of the Sun's influence, but they would only be about 1/3 as high as today's tides, and without the Moon the range between high tide and low tide would be fairly constant throughout the year. Tides are responsible for the ecosystems of much marine life, and in turn the feeding patterns of birds and animals. These in turn affect vegetation, due to pollenation patterns. The tidal range is affected by Moon phases. Lower tides would shrink the intertidal beach zone, which is usually teeming with life. The narrower intertidal zone would make it more difficult for the species living there to maintain their niche, and diversity would be diminished.
Another consequence of a moonless Earth would be a faster rotation rate. Without the Moon’s constant tugging, Earth would spin more rapidly than it does now. The length of a day would be considerably shorter. Our Moon is much bigger in comparison to its parent planet than is any other satellite in our solar system. The relatively large size and mass of the Moon exerts a considerable gravitational effect on the Earth, so that the Earth rotates once every 24 hours. Without the Moon, the Sun would only be up for several hours a day in the mid latitudes, depending upon the season. The primary weather effect of a faster spinning Earth would be higher winds in the atmosphere and on the surface. Winds arise as a result of the planet's rotation and differential heating and cooling of air, land and water. On a moonless Earth, winds would be stronger and always move in the direction that the Earth rotates. On Earth today, the winds in the upper atmosphere (at the mid latitudes) move west to east, but sometimes air flow takes on a north to south or a south to north trajectory. On an Earth with no Moon, surface winds would be stronger and more persistent than they are today. The increased windspeeds would generate greater ocean waves.
Nobody disputes that the Moon pulls the tides. As Moon’s forces must go through the air to reach the water, and so must also be pulling the air. Also, the surface of the water is in interface with the bottom of the air, and this is over 75% of the surface of the planet that we call ocean. So, as weather is a function of what happens in the air, does the Moon affect weather? It would be weird if the Moon, at between a third and a quarter the size of Earth, sitting only 10 earth circumferences away, did not have some effect on earth and everything on the Earth, including the air. Meteorologists do know that weather balloons float higher on New and Full moon days, suggesting a king tide in the air at the same times as a king tide at the coast, but they keep this to themselves.
The air is like a big hunk of insulation keeping away two things; the heat of the Sun and the cold of space, both of which would like to rush to the ground but the thick air-layer stops both of them. So if you imagine if the height of the air was lower or higher at any one time, due to a tidal pull of the Moon, then either more heat or more cold could come down here closer to ground. It's like holding up an umbrella - the higher you hold it the more you keep the rain away. When more of the cold of space gets let in and changes the upperlevel temperature, this causes cloud formation and condensation. If the Moon is above the horizon it tends to keep rain away – and it may often rain when the Moon sets. Full moon days are the hottest in summer because the Sun’s heat can come closer to Earth without lunar-controlled air in the way. No technology has been put into this so we have to use other methods, like looking at the Moon's cycles and matching present weather to historic weather that happened on the same Moon cycles in the past. Long ago, ancient villagers kept their own records by planting sticks and marker stones around stone circles.
Tides and storms
Back in the 1970s living right at the water’s edge on the wild East Coast of the North Island, Ken Ring had noticed that the biggest tides happened at around the same times as the worst storms. That got him asking around, yet no one could give an adequate explanation, so he decided to find out for himself. He just kept a track of it and after 4 years had the rudiments of a system – the pattern just fell into place. Here's an example. The 13th of December 2008 was the day of the biggest tides of the month and also the day the Moon was closest to Earth since 1993. It won't be as close again until 2016.
The 13th was also the day of full moon and northernmost point for December(northern declination).
Unusual things happen on summer full moon days. In Ashburton (NZ) the wind swung around to briefly come from due north at 1pm, when the Moon was exactly on the opposite side of the earth to NZ. Christchurch received the highest barometric reading so far that month on 1014mbs. On the 13th, Sydney had a drenching of 38mm of rain. Their maximum briefly shot to 32C and sharply reverted the next day to 27C. Brisbane registered the so far-hottest day of the month. Canberra received a whopping 52mm of rain. Perth, which had received rain the day before, and the hottest temperature thus far of the month, 38C, a day later. Police call-outs in NZ were a record high on the weekend of 14th/15th. Rome was flooded. Storms lashed the UK. In Michigan, USA, 8 inches of snow fell on the morning of December 14th which continued into the early morning of December 15th. The temperature then plummeted from 2C to -14C degrees in about three hours which turned all highways into skating rinks. Schools were cancelled across the entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
These days with internet and TV we can see what is happening everywhere else too. The whole Earth moves under the Moon every 24-hours. When the Moon is at one of its cycle peaks, all countries are affected, but of course in differing ways due to differing topographies.
Hot Summer Moon
There were sound reasons for the recent high temperatures Down Under, and they correlated with Moon positions. One Moon cycle is the trekking north-to-south-north again every 27.3 days, which can be observed in successive moon-risings along the eastern horizon if you have a lookout point. The last northernmost point was 1 April and the next southernmost point will be 15 April. This is a different cycle to the Full moon-New moon-Full cycle (29.5 days) that we are used to seeing. In January 2009 the Moon was furthest north on 9 January, and the closest moon-earth distance for the year (perigee – another 27-day cycle), was on the 10th. Full moon was barely a day away on the 11th. This was a troublesome threesome not three days apart which added up to a build-up of unusual heat in the southern hemisphere, because hot moist air from the equator was being shunted southwards by the close full moon. Normally any one of these lunar factors in summer raises temperature. Right across Australia the heat brought discomfort. A cyclone brewed in Fiji, as they always do in summer full moon phase. Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, record-breaking colder weather was developing as freezing air dragged by the northern moon descended from the Arctic and enveloped the UK and Canada. The effects in both hemispheres then diminished as the Moon moved away from its critical position. The perigee lost force, the Moon trekked further south and down here slowly lost its hot winds, and full moon became last quarter, shifting cooler weather into the afternoon and evening.
If it was not causal then it is rather coincidental that the hot temperatures in both NZ and Australia in January came exactly when close(perigee) northerly moon(northern declination) was in full moon phase, between 9th-11th, followed two weeks later by the far-away south new moon phase between 23rd-26th (Sydney’s hottest January minimum was on the 23rd and hottest maximum on 24th). Sydney’s cloudiest days in January 2009 were on the 8th and 26th, reflecting the increased evaporation rates. These unusually hotter conditions repeated over the full moon weekend of Feb 6th-10th, easing again with the passing of that full moon peak.
When in summer the Moon combines the peaks or troughs of these three independent cycles you have this recipe for increased heat. Two weeks later the heat repeats because when the New moon is in the southern hemisphere and further away, cool heavier air directed downwards at night when the Moon is absent from the sky creates daytime high pressure which traps the Sun’s heat so it cannot escape.
Of course blame for the Victoria fires came from anything but the Moon. Some politicians and media, never shying too far from the popular bandwagon, blamed global warming and climate change. Eucalyptus are called "gum" trees, because they are full of inflammable resin. Their sap automatically ignites above 40degC. It is part of the evolution of those trees to do so, because it stabilisies and fertilises the bush naturally. In Arnhem Land they still do burnoffs every year as they have always done. The Aborigines knew about sustainable farming, but no one goes to them for climate or land management advice. The burnoff was the traditional aboriginal way of having good pastures by the time the rains came. With the new nitrogen in the soil, grass grows better afterwards, the kangaroos ate the grass and the people ate the kangaroos.
Tight lunar combinations such as the three described can be proven to regularly come around about every 9 years. Solar cycles repeat at about 11-yr intervals. Weather in turn recycles about every decade, which reflects the 9-11 year Sun/Moon factor. It is within our living memory. On NZ there were dry summer conditions with intense heat in Canterbury in 2000/01, also a decade before that in 1991/92. We can go a decade before that, to the devastating 1982 drought in the Waimea. Most locations in Australia can be shown to have a 9-11 year weather cycle also. Sometimes you will read reports in news, such as that this recent February brought the driest conditions to Melbourne for 18 years and the worst snow to London for 20 years. This, 9-11 year and 18-20 year is the decadal cycle. There are small variations. The cycle of the sea-tides is 18.613-years.
When will the hotter temperatures come again? Next summer, 2009/10 will see the Moon in a similar heat-producing pattern, with the combination of northern declination+perigee+Full moon arriving Dec 30-Jan2, so a hot New Years Eve should usher in the New year. Then in mid January we have again the hot far southern new moon, so that, too, may be the next fire-risk time, followed by the Full moon triumvirate between January 27-30, which should bring a hot end to January. In February 2010, the hot spots may also be at the beginning, middle and end of month. (this article was written at the beginning of 2009)
For more information go to www.predictweather.com or email Ken at email@example.com
© Ken Ring 2009