Opinions on Tide

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Photo of boat in water next to a dock
Photo of boat resting on bottom next to dock

Tides are the rise and fall of sea levels caused by the combined effects of gravitational forces exerted by the Moon, Sun, and rotation of the Earth.

Some shorelines experience two nearly equal high and low tides each day, called a semi-diurnal tide. Some locations experience only one high and low tide each day, called a diurnal tide. Some locations experience two uneven tides a day, or sometimes one high and one low each day; this is called a mixed tide. The times and amplitude of tides at a locale are influenced by the alignment of the Sun and Moon, by the pattern of tides in the deep ocean, by the amphidromic systems of the oceans, and the shape of the coastline and near-shore bathymetry (see Timing).

Tides vary on timescales ranging from hours to years due to numerous influences. To make accurate records, tide gauges at fixed stations measure the water level over time. Gauges ignore variations caused by waves with periods shorter than minutes. These data are compared to the reference (or datum) level usually called mean sea level.

While tides are usually the largest source of short-term sea-level fluctuations, sea levels are also subject to forces such as wind and barometric pressure changes, resulting in storm surges, especially in shallow seas and near coasts.

Tidal phenomena are not limited to the oceans, but can occur in other systems whenever a gravitational field that varies in time and space is present. For example, the solid part of the Earth is affected by tides, though this is not as easily seen as the water tidal movements.


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