By Richard Gray – 4th March 2023
Billions of years ago the average Earth day lasted less than 13 hours and it is continuing to lengthen. The reason lies in the relationship between the Moon and our oceans.
Throughout human history the Moon has been an inextricable, ghostly presence above the Earth. Its gentle gravitational tug sets the rhythm of the tides, while its pale light illuminates the nocturnal nuptials of many species. Entire civilisations have set their calendars by it as it has waxed and waned, and some animals – such as dung beetles – use sunlight reflecting off the Moon’s surface to help them navigate.
More crucially, the Moon may have helped to create the conditions that make life on our planet possible, according to some theories, and may even have helped to kickstart life on Earth in the first place. Its eccentric orbit around our planet is thought to also play a role in some of the important weather systems that dominate our lives today.
But the Moon is also slipping from our grasp. …