We all know the importance of our Moon. What would we do without it? Would we ever require to use night vision goggles? How would it affect the ocean tides? our sleeping cycles? Or our seasons? What is the worst that could happen?
Moon is the closest celestial body to our planet, Earth. It exerts a gravitational pull that affects much of what happens here on our planet. For example, take our oceans. Due to Moon’s gravitational pull towards our already spinning Earth, oceans get affected and respond with high tides in some places and low tides in other places.
We know that the wind gives waves their energy but it is tides that define their shape. High tides are smaller waves that take relatively longer to break, as there is less resistance from the ocean floor. Low tides break faster as there is less water between the surface and the bottom. It is Moon’s gravitational attraction that keeps our Earth stable at 23.5 degree tilt relative to the Sun, which gives us four seasons and liveable climate.
Now let’s see what would happen if Moon is suddenly gone? Would Earth still be stable?
Let’s hear the good news first. If the moon suddenly disappears, days on earth would become just six to eight hours in length. Shifting tides and their pressure on Earth for millions of years had slowed down the earth’s rotation to 24 hours. It would start rotating faster if there is no moon. How much faster? Nearly three to four times faster than it is doing now.
Why this is bad? If Earth spins at this speed, it would give rise to winds up to 480 km per hour. It would get really difficult for us to stand on the ground. Birds and insects would not survive for long. Maybe some of the heavy animals and large trees will be able to survive with such winds.
What about ocean life? Ocean organisms completely rely on ocean currents for their survival. They would not be able to survive this. Currents help the ocean send oxygen to the deep floor of the ocean and bring vital nutrients to the surface.
Yes, we would still have tides in oceans, but that would not be effective. These tides would be due to our Sun. But as it is very far from Earth, these tides would only be one-third as powerful.
As Moon moves away from the picture, the oceans would rip towards the sun. This would give rise to huge waves that would submerge coastlines and kill thousands on its way. After some time, we would have to get adjusted to new currents to survive. New currents would circulate at a slower rate and heat up the equatorial water and turn polar water colder.
But will it affect the land? Yes, this would create similar effects on land as well, as ocean temperature influences climate on the ground as well. Other than the sun, other nearby planets would also influence the gravitational force of the Earth by pulling it in a different direction. Hence, the Earth will tilt with increased volatility.
Earth’s axis would change by nearly 10 degrees, which would cause frequent shifts in seasons and hence making our climate uninhabitable. Most of the crops will die due to temperature change. We would see the worst ice age known to us as most of the area would get covered by ice except the part near the equator.
So, the next time you see Moon in the sky, be glad that it is still there.