Lunar orbital evolution: A synthesis of recent results
Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.
Geophysical Research Letters
Volume 26, Issue 19, pages 3045–3048, 1 October 1999
How to Cite
- Issue published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Article first published online: 7 DEC 2012
- Manuscript Accepted: 16 JUL 1999
- Manuscript Received: 19 APR 1999
The present rate of tidal dissipation in the Earth-Moon system is known to be anomalously high, in the sense that the implied age of the lunar orbit is only 1.5×109 years, though other evidence suggests an age closer to 4×109 years. To assess how long the anomalous dissipation has persisted, we use published estimates of lunar orbital configurations derived from (a) fine grained sediments containing tidal laminations and (b) numerical ocean models averaged over varying ocean geometries. The implied histories of the lunar semimajor axis are surprisingly consistent over the past 109 years. The ocean models imply, on average, reduced dissipation in the past because of a spatial mismatch between tidal forcing and oceanic normal modes of higher frequencies. Webb's ocean model suggests that the “anomalous” oceanic dissipation began about 109 years ago and has been increasing since then.