We know that the moon is responsible for giving us tides, but what would happen if the moon were to suddenly disappear or didn't exist at all? In this article, we'll explore what the moon influences, and what would happen if it wasn't there.
Ste Wright | 3 min read
The Moon's gravitational pull is what gives us rising and falling tides. The gravitational pull of the moon on the oceans creates friction, which actually slows down and regulates the Earth's rotation. Without the Moon, this would not happen and the days would last somewhere between 6 and 12 hours, with our year consisting of over a thousand days.
When we see the Moon in the night sky, we see it because it reflects the sun's light. When the Earth casts a shadow on the moon, this gives us the Moon's phases. Without a moon, our nights would be significantly darker, so dark that without artificial light, we'd not see our hands in front of us. Just imagine how clear the night sky would be, assuming we'd be able to live without the moon at all.
This is where the problems really occur for Earth's ability to sustain life. Likely, life as we know it wouldn't exist at all. Aside from all the other benefits we enjoy from our moon regulating our rotation, it also regulates the Earth's tilt. This tilt is what gives us the seasons. The Earth's tilt is 23.5 degrees, facilitating Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring.
If there were no moon, one of two things would likely happen; there would be no tilt, meaning absolutely no seasonal variation, or an extreme tilt that would vary our seasons and weather pattern wildly. In the case of the tilt varying wildly, we'd experience extreme seasons and weather patterns, going from blisteringly hot in summer, to being thrown into an ice age in winter.
The tidal movements help stabilise the Earth's climate. Tidal movements drive ocean currents, bringing warmer waters to regions which would otherwise not have them. This too would be a catalyst of extreme weather.
The moon is what gives us the tidal range that we enjoy the world over. With no moon, we'd only have the sun's gravitational pull to influence the tidal range. Tides would reduce to around a third of what they are now. This would also mean that the low tides would be much lower. As the days would be between 6 and 12 hours, the rate at which the tides rise and fall would be quicker, with just one tidal cycle in a day, locked to the Earth's rotation of the sun.
If there was no moon, the change to the tidal range would have a devastating impact on marine life. Animals such as starfish, crabs, and mussels rely on the tidal range and pattern to bring life-giving food. This sealife may not exist at all if not for the moon. This in turn affects sea birds and their ability to find food themselves. The domino effect would have a wider impact on the world's ecology as a result.
We can try and imagine what life would be like without the moon, but that life would be very difficult indeed, if not impossible. We should be very grateful for that ball of rock that orbits us, we owe our very existance to it.