first published as weblog three hundred and fifty six on Friday 22nd December 2006.
Two years ago a massive earthquake off the coast of Sumatra triggered the biggest and most devastating tsunami known in recent history. The quake measuring more than 9.0 on the Richter Scale released monstrous waves up to 100 feet high along coastlines across the Indian Ocean from Somalia to Thailand that left 230 000 people killed or lost. The immediate cause of the Asian Tsunami was a sideways rupture of about 50 feet along a seismic fault line under the sea with the sea bed lifting up some ten feet or so.
But the moon may also have played a part in it because recent research has shown that this fault line is sensitive to the monthly lunar cycle. A team of British scientists compared the patterns of quakes and tremors including the Boxing Day 2004 Tsunami with the phases of the moon. Publishing in Geophysical Research Letters the scientists reported that quakes were 86% more likely around full moons and 38% more likely around new moons when tides are at their most extreme. The movement of huge masses of water at these tides could stress fault lines under strain.
As our planet whizzes across the face of the sun at this time of the year on its elliptical orbit...and summer is now on the way...it has always seemed surprising to me that the tilt of the earth's axis is responsible for the difference between hot summers and cold winters. At the Winter Solstice the Northern Hemisphere is leaning away from the Sun while at the Summer Solstice it is leaning towards it. Why should a few thousand miles make so much difference in ninety three million. Perhaps someone can explain before I try to set up my life to spend half of it in New Zealand.
One person asking such questions was James Croll. In 1864 he published a ground-breaking scientific paper on how fluctuations in the Earth's orbit around the Sun could explain the coming and going of Ice Ages. He had figured out that ice ages came and went as the earth's orbit changed from a circle to an oval-shape...and with changes in the tilt of the Earth. According to his calculations only small changes in the Earth's Orbit were needed because the cooling was amplified by the huge ice sheets reflecting heat from their white surface back into space.
It took some 60 years for these ideas to become widely accepted...and another hundred years to be buried as Bad News by the Global Warming Conspirators. But at least Croll who died in 1890 gained recognition as an inspirational scientist in his own lifetime suggesting there was more good honest horse sense talked about our planet's climate before the Computer Boys hijacked the subject with their Clip Boards and Computer Forecasting Models.