The modelled climatic response to the 18.6-year lunar nodal cycle and its role in decadal temperature trends

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Abstract

The 18.6-year lunar nodal cycle arises from variations in the angle of the Moon's orbital plane. Previous work has linked the nodal cycle to climate but has been limited by either the length of observations analysed or geographical regions considered in model simulations of the pre-industrial period. Here we examine the global effect of the lunar nodal cycle in multi-centennial climate model simulations of the pre-industrial period. We find cyclic signals in global and regional surface air temperature (with amplitudes of around 0.1gK) and in ocean heat uptake and ocean heat content. The timing of anomalies of global surface air temperature and heat uptake is consistent with the so-called slowdown in global warming in the first decade of the 21st century. The lunar nodal cycle causes variations in mean sea level pressure exceeding 0.5ghPa in the Nordic Seas region, thus affecting the North Atlantic Oscillation during boreal winter. Our results suggest that the contribution of the lunar nodal cycle to global temperature should be negative in the mid-2020s before becoming positive again in the early 2030s, reducing the uncertainty in time at which projected global temperature reaches 1.5g° C above pre-industrial levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443–455
Number of pages13
JournalEarth System Dynamics
Volume14
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Apr 2023

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