Tidal range is the height difference between high tide and low tide. Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and Sun and the rotation of Earth. Tidal range is not constant but changes depending on the locations of the Moon and Sun.
The most extreme tidal range occurs during spring tides, when the gravitational forces of both the Moon and Sun are aligned (syzygy), reinforcing each other in the same direction (new moon) or in opposite directions (full moon). During neap tides, when the Moon and Sun's gravitational force vectors act in quadrature (making a right angle to the Earth's orbit), the difference between high and low tides is smaller. Neap tides occur during the first and last quarters of the Moon's phases. The largest annual tidal range can be expected around the time of the equinox if it coincides with a spring tide.
Tidal data for coastal areas is published by national hydrographic services.The data is based on astronomical phenomena and is predictable. Sustained storm-force winds blowing from one direction combined with low barometric pressure can increase the tidal range, particularly in narrow bays. Such weather-related effects on the tide, which can cause ranges in excess of predicted values and can cause localized flooding, are not calculable in advance.
Mean tidal range is calculated as the difference between Mean High Water (i.e., the average high tide level) and Mean Low Water (the average low tide level).
The typical tidal range in the open ocean is about 0.6 metres (2 feet)(blue and green on the map on the right). Closer to the coast, this range is much greater. Coastal tidal ranges vary globally and can differ anywhere from near zero to over 16 metres. The exact range depends on the volume of water adjacent to the coast, and the geography of the basin the water sits in. Larger bodies of water have higher ranges, and the geography can act as a funnel amplifying or dispersing the tide. The world's largest tidal range of 16.3 metres (53.5 feet) occurs in Bay of Fundy, Canada, and the United Kingdom regularly experiences tidal ranges up to 15 metres (49 feet) between England and Wales in the Severn Estuary.
The fifty coastal locations with the largest tidal ranges worldwide are listed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States.
Some of the smallest tidal ranges occur in the Mediterranean, Baltic, and Caribbean Seas. A point within a tidal system where the tidal range is almost zero is called an amphidromic point.
The tidal range has been classifiedas:
Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of the gravitational forces exerted by the Moon and the Sun, and the rotation of the Earth.
Mean sea level (MSL) is an average level of the surface of one or more of Earth's bodies of water from which heights such as elevation may be measured. The global MSL is a type of vertical datum – a standardised geodetic datum – that is used, for example, as a chart datum in cartography and marine navigation, or, in aviation, as the standard sea level at which atmospheric pressure is measured to calibrate altitude and, consequently, aircraft flight levels. A common and relatively straightforward mean sea-level standard is instead the midpoint between a mean low and mean high tide at a particular location.
A lunar node is either of the two orbital nodes of the Moon, that is, the two points at which the orbit of the Moon intersects the ecliptic. The ascending node is where the Moon moves into the northern ecliptic hemisphere, while the descending node is where the Moon enters the southern ecliptic hemisphere.
An amphidromic point, also called a tidal node, is a geographical location which has zero tidal amplitude for one harmonic constituent of the tide. The tidal range for that harmonic constituent increases with distance from this point.
Physical oceanography is the study of physical conditions and physical processes within the ocean, especially the motions and physical properties of ocean waters.
A storm surge, storm flood, tidal surge or storm tide is a coastal flood or tsunami-like phenomenon of rising water commonly associated with low pressure weather systems. Its severity is affected by the shallowness and orientation of the water body relative to storm path, as well as the timing of tides. Most casualties during tropical cyclones occur as the result of storm surges. It is a measure of the rise of water beyond what would be expected by the normal movement related to tides.
The lunitidal interval measures the time lag from lunar culmination to the next high tide at a given location. It is also called the high water interval (HWI). Sometimes a term is not used for the time lag, but instead the terms age or establishment of the tide are used for the entry that is in tide tables.
Atmospheric physics is the application of physics to the study of the atmosphere. Atmospheric physicists attempt to model Earth's atmosphere and the atmospheres of the other planets using fluid flow equations, chemical models, radiation budget, and energy transfer processes in the atmosphere. In order to model weather systems, atmospheric physicists employ elements of scattering theory, wave propagation models, cloud physics, statistical mechanics and spatial statistics which are highly mathematical and related to physics. It has close links to meteorology and climatology and also covers the design and construction of instruments for studying the atmosphere and the interpretation of the data they provide, including remote sensing instruments. At the dawn of the space age and the introduction of sounding rockets, aeronomy became a subdiscipline concerning the upper layers of the atmosphere, where dissociation and ionization are important.
A chart datum is the water level that depths displayed on a nautical chart are measured from. A chart datum is generally derived from some phase of the tide. Common chart datums are lowest astronomical tide and mean lower low water. In non-tidal areas, e.g. the Baltic Sea, mean sea level (MSL) is used.
Tide tables, sometimes called tide charts, are used for tidal prediction and show the daily times and levels of high and low tides, usually for a particular location. Tide heights at intermediate times can be approximated by using the rule of twelfths or more accurately calculated by using a published tidal curve for the location. Tide levels are typically given relative to a low-water vertical datum, e.g. the mean lower low water (MLLW) datum in the US.
A tide clock is a specially designed clock that keeps track of the Moon's apparent motion around the Earth. Along many coastlines, the Moon contributes the major part (67%) of the combined lunar and solar tides. The exact interval between tides is influenced by the position of the Moon and Sun relative to the Earth, as well as the specific location on Earth where the tide is being measured. Due to the Moon's orbital prograde motion, it takes a particular point on the Earth 24 hours and 50.5 minutes to rotate under the Moon, so the time between high lunar tides fluctuates between 12 and 13 hours. A tide clock is divided into two roughly 6 hour tidal periods that shows the average length of time between high and low tides in a semi-diurnal tide region, such as most areas of the Atlantic Ocean.
Earth tide is the displacement of the solid earth's surface caused by the gravity of the Moon and Sun. Its main component has meter-level amplitude at periods of about 12 hours and longer. The largest body tide constituents are semi-diurnal, but there are also significant diurnal, semi-annual, and fortnightly contributions. Though the gravitational forcing causing earth tides and ocean tides is the same, the responses are quite different.
The theory of tides is the application of continuum mechanics to interpret and predict the tidal deformations of planetary and satellite bodies and their atmospheres and oceans under the gravitational loading of another astronomical body or bodies.
Burntcoat Head is an unincorporated rural Canadian community in Hants County, Nova Scotia and is known internationally as the site where it was officially recorded that the Bay of Fundy, and specifically Burntcoat, has the highest tides in the world.
A king tide is an especially high spring tide, especially the perigean spring tides which occur three or four times a year.
A vertical datum or height datum is a reference surface for vertical positions, such as the elevations of Earth features including terrain, bathymetry, water level, and man-made structures; in any particular case one must be assigned even if arbitrarily, and commonly adopted criteria for a vertical datum include the following approaches:
New Zealand has large ocean energy resources but does not yet generate any power from them. TVNZ reported in 2007 that over 20 wave and tidal power projects are currently under development. However, not a lot of public information is available about these projects. The Aotearoa Wave and Tidal Energy Association was established in 2006 to "promote the uptake of marine energy in New Zealand". According to their 10 February 2008 newsletter, they have 59 members. However, the association doesn't list its members.
A supermoon is a full moon or a new moon that nearly coincides with perigee—the closest that the Moon comes to the Earth in its elliptic orbit—resulting in a slightly larger-than-usual apparent size of the lunar disk as viewed from Earth. The technical name is a perigee syzygy or a full Moon around perigee. The term supermoon is astrological in origin and has no precise astronomical definition.
In astronomy, a syzygy is a roughly straight-line configuration of three or more celestial bodies in a gravitational system.
Tidal flooding, also known as sunny day flooding or nuisance flooding, is the temporary inundation of low-lying areas, especially streets, during exceptionally high tide events, such as at full and new moons. The highest tides of the year may be known as the king tide, with the month varying by location.