Moon Phase Affects Rainfall Amounts, Study Reveals Findings

First Posted: Feb 01, 2016 01:15 PM EST

We've all heard that the phases of the moon influence rainfall. A high moon in the sky creates bulges in the planet's atmosphere, which creates indistinguishable changes in the amounts of rainfall. However, researchers at the University of Washington found that lunar forces have a very small effect on the amount of rain that falls, according to a study.

"As far as I know, this is the first study to convincingly connect the tidal force of the moon with rainfall," Tsubasa Kohyama, coauthor of the study, said in a news release.

Kohyama noticed a slight fluctuation in the air pressure while conducting research on atmospheric waves. A previous UW study had used a global grid of data, which confirmed that air pressure on the surface depends on the phases of the moon.

"When the moon is overhead or underfoot, the air pressure is higher," Kohyama said. "It's like the container becomes larger at higher pressure."

The researchers analyzed 15 years of data that was gathered by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite from 1998 to 2012 to indicate that rain amounts are slightly lighter when the moon is high. The team found that there is a one percent change in the total rainfall, which is not sufficient enough to people to notice any type of changes in rainfall variance.

"No one should carry an umbrella just because the moon is rising," Kohyama said.

The researchers' study is one of the first to show that the moon's gravitational forces merely affects rainfall variances.

The findings of this study were published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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