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Tidal prediction summing constituent parts. The tidal coefficients are defined on the page theory of tides.

Remember that astronomical tides do not include weather effects. Also, changes to local conditions (sandbank movement, dredging harbour mouths, etc.) away from those prevailing at the measurement time affect the tide's actual timing and magnitude. Organisations quoting a "highest astronomical tide" for some location may exaggerate the figure as a safety factor against analytical uncertainties, distance from the nearest measurement point, changes since the last observation time, ground subsidence, etc., to avert liability should an engineering work be overtopped. Special care is needed when assessing the size of a "weather surge" by subtracting the astronomical tide from the observed tide.

Careful Fourier data analysis over a nineteen-year period (the National Tidal Datum Epoch in the U.S.) uses frequencies called the tidal harmonic constituents. Nineteen years is preferred because the Earth, Moon and Sun's relative positions repeat almost exactly in the Metonic cycle of 19 years, which is long enough to incl

Remember that astronomical tides do not include weather effects. Also, changes to local conditions (sandbank movement, dredging harbour mouths, etc.) away from those prevailing at the measurement time affect the tide's actual timing and magnitude. Organisations quoting a "highest astronomical tide" for some location may exaggerate the figure as a safety factor against analytical uncertainties, distance from the nearest measurement point, changes since the last observation time, ground subsidence, etc., to avert liability should an engineering work be overtopped. Special care is needed when assessing the size of a "weather surge" by subtracting the astronomical tide from the observed tide.

Careful Fourier data analysis over a nineteen-year period (the National Tidal Datum Epoch in the U.S.) uses frequencies called the tidal harmonic constituents. Nineteen years is preferred because the Earth, Moon and Sun's relative positions repeat almost exactly in the Metonic cycle of 19 years, which is long enough to include the 18.613 year lunar nodal tidal constituent. This analysis can be done using only the knowledge of the forcing period, but without detailed understanding of the mathematical derivation, which means that useful tidal tables have been constructed for centuries.[61] The resulting amplitudes and phases can then be used to predict the expected tides. These are

Careful Fourier data analysis over a nineteen-year period (the National Tidal Datum Epoch in the U.S.) uses frequencies called the tidal harmonic constituents. Nineteen years is preferred because the Earth, Moon and Sun's relative positions repeat almost exactly in the Metonic cycle of 19 years, which is long enough to include the 18.613 year lunar nodal tidal constituent. This analysis can be done using only the knowledge of the forcing period, but without detailed understanding of the mathematical derivation, which means that useful tidal tables have been constructed for centuries.[61] The resulting amplitudes and phases can then be used to predict the expected tides. These are usually dominated by the constituents near 12 hours (the semi-diurnal constituents), but there are major constituents near 24 hours (diurnal) as well. Longer term constituents are 14 day or fortnightly, monthly, and semiannual. Semi-diurnal tides dominated coastline, but some areas such as the South China Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are primarily diurnal. In the semi-diurnal areas, the primary constituents M2 (lunar) and S2 (solar) periods differ slightly, so that the relative phases, and thus the amplitude of the combined tide, change fortnightly (14 day period).[62]

In the M2 plot above, each cotidal line differs by one hour from its neighbors, and the thicker lines show tides in phase with equilibrium at Greenwich. The lines rotate around the amphidromic points counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere so that from Baja California Peninsula to Alaska and from France to Ireland the M2 tide propagates northward. In the southern hemisphere this direction is clockwise. On the other hand, M2 tide propagates counterclockwise around New Zealand, but this is because the islands act as a dam and permit the tides to have different heights on the islands' opposite sides. (The tides do propagate northward on the east side and southward on the west coast, as predicted by theory.)

The exception is at Cook Strait where the tidal currents periodically link high to low water. This is because cotidal lines 180° around the amphidromes are in opposite phase, for example high water across from low water at each end of Cook Strait. Each tidal constituent has a different pattern of amplitudes, phases, and amphidromic points, so the M2 patterns cannot be used for other tide components.

Because the Moon is moving in its orbit around the Earth and in the same sense as the Earth's rotation, a point on the Earth must rotate slightly further to catch up so that the time between semidiurnal tides is not twelve but 12.4206 hours—a bit over twenty-five minutes extra. The two peaks are not equal. The two high tides a day alternate in maximum heights: lower high (just under three feet), higher high (just over three feet), and again lower high. Likewise for the low tides.

When the Earth, Moon, and Sun are in line (Sun–Earth–Moon, or Sun–Moon–Earth) the two main influences combine to produce spring tides; when the two forces are opposing each other as when the angle Moon–Earth–Sun is close to ninety degrees, neap tides result. As the Moon moves around its orbit it changes from north of the Equator to south of the Equator. The alternation in high tide heights becomes smaller, until they are the same (at the lunar equinox, the Moon is above the Equator), then redevelop but with the other polarity, waxing to a maximum difference and then waning again.

Current

The tides' influence on current flow is much more difficult to analyse, and data is much more difficult to collect. A tidal height is a simple number which applies to a wide region simultaneously. A flow has both a magnitude and a direction, both of which can vary substantially with depth and over short distances due to local bathymetry. Also, although a water channel's center is the most useful measuring site, mariners object when current-measuring equipment obstructs waterways. A flow proceeding up a curved channel is the same flow, even though its direction varies continuously along the channel. Surprisingly, flood and ebb flows are often not in opposite directions. Flow direction is determined by the upstream channel's shape, not the downstream channel's shape. Likewise, eddies may form in only one flow direction.

Nevertheless, current analysis is similar to tidal analysis: in the simple case, at a given location the flood flow is in mostly one direction, and the ebb flow in another direction. Flood velocities are given positive sign, and ebb velocities negative sign. Analysis proceeds as though these are tide heights.

In more complex situations, the main ebb and flood flows do not dominate. Instead, the flow direction and magnitude trace an ellipse over a tidal cycle (on a polar plot) instead of along the ebb and flood lines. In this case, analysis might proceed along pairs of directions, with the primary and secondary directions at right angles. An alternative is to treat the tidal flows as complex numbers, as each value has both a magnitude and a direction.

Tide flow information is most commonly seen on nautical charts, presented as a table of flow speeds and bearings at hourly intervals, with separate tables for spring and neap tides. The timing is relative to high water at some harbour where the tidal behaviour is similar in pattern, though it may be far away.

As with tide height predictions, tide flow predictions based only on astronomical factors do not incorporate weather conditions, which can completely change the outcome.

The tidal flow through Cook Strait between the two main islands of New Zealand is particularly interesting, as the tides on each side of the strait are almost exactly out of phase, so that one side's high water is simultaneous with the other's low water. Strong currents result, with almost zero tidal height change in the strait's center. Yet, although the tidal surge normally flows in one direction for six hours and in the reverse direction for six hours, a particular surge might last eight or ten hours with the reverse surge enfeebled. In especially boisterous weather conditions, the reverse surge might be entirely overcome so that the flow continues in the same direction through three or more surge periods.

A further complication for Cook Strait's flow pattern is that the tide at the south side (e.g. at Nelson) follows the common bi-weekly spring–neap tide cycle (as found along the west side of the country), but th

When the Earth, Moon, and Sun are in line (Sun–Earth–Moon, or Sun–Moon–Earth) the two main influences combine to produce spring tides; when the two forces are opposing each other as when the angle Moon–Earth–Sun is close to ninety degrees, neap tides result. As the Moon moves around its orbit it changes from north of the Equator to south of the Equator. The alternation in high tide heights becomes smaller, until they are the same (at the lunar equinox, the Moon is above the Equator), then redevelop but with the other polarity, waxing to a maximum difference and then waning again.

The tides' influence on current flow is much more difficult to analyse, and data is much more difficult to collect. A tidal height is a simple number which applies to a wide region simultaneously. A flow has both a magnitude and a direction, both of which can vary substantially with depth and over short distances due to local bathymetry. Also, although a water channel's center is the most useful measuring site, mariners object when current-measuring equipment obstructs waterways. A flow proceeding up a curved channel is the same flow, even though its direction varies continuously along the channel. Surprisingly, flood and ebb flows are often not in opposite directions. Flow direction is determined by the upstream channel's shape, not the downstream channel's shape. Likewise, eddies may form in only one flow direction.

Nevertheless, current analysis is similar to tidal analysis:

Nevertheless, current analysis is similar to tidal analysis: in the simple case, at a given location the flood flow is in mostly one direction, and the ebb flow in another direction. Flood velocities are given positive sign, and ebb velocities negative sign. Analysis proceeds as though these are tide heights.

In more complex situations, the main ebb and flood flows do not dominate. Instead, the flow direction and magnitude trace an ellipse over a tidal cycle (on a polar plot) instead of along the ebb and flood lines. In this case, analysis might proceed along pairs of directions, with the primary and secondary directions at right angles. An alternative is to treat the tidal flows as complex numbers, as each value has both a magnitude and a direction.

Tide flow information is most commonly seen on nautical charts, presented as a table of flow speeds and bearings at hourly intervals, with separate tables for spring and neap tides. The timing is relative to high water at some harbour where the tidal behaviour is similar in pattern, though it may be far away.

As with tide height predictions, tide flow predictions based only on astronomical factors do not incorporate weather conditions, which can completely change the outcome.

The tidal flow through Cook Strait between the two main islands of New Zealand is particularly interesting, as the tides on each side of the strait are almost exactly out of phase, so that one side's high water is simultaneous with the other's low water. Strong currents result, with almost zero tidal height change in the strait's center. Yet, although the tidal surge normally flows in one direction for six hours and in the reverse direction for six hours, a particular surge might last eight or ten hours with the reverse surge enfeebled. In especially boisterous weather conditions, the reverse surge might be entirely overcome so that the flow continues in the same direction through three or more surge periods.

A further complication for Cook Strait's flow pattern is that the tide at the south side (e.g. at Nelson) follows the common bi-weekly spring–neap tide cycle (as found along the west side of the country), but the north side's tidal pattern has only one cycle per month, as on the east side: Wellington, and Napier.

The graph of Cook Strait's tides shows separately the high water and low water height and time, through November 2007; these are not measured values but instead are calculated from tidal parameters derived from years-old measurements. Cook Strait's nautical chart offers tidal current information. For instance the January 1979 edition for 41°13·9’S 174°29·6’E (north west of Cape Terawhiti) refers timings to Westport while the January 2004 issue refers to Wellington. Near Cape Terawhiti in the middle of Cook Strait the tidal height variation is almost nil while the tidal current reaches its maximum, especially near the notorious Karori Rip. Aside from weather effects, the actual currents through Cook Strait are influenced by the tidal height differences between the two ends of the strait and as can be seen, only one of the two spring tides at the north west end of the strait near Nelson has a counterpart spring tide at the south east end (Wellington), so the resulting behaviour follows neither reference harbour.[citation needed]

Tidal energy can be extracted by two means: inserting a water turbine into a tidal current, or building ponds that release/admit water through a turbine. In the first case, the energy amount is entirely determined by the timing and tidal current magnitude. However, the best currents may be unavailable because the turbines would obstruct ships. In the second, the impoundment dams are expensive to construct, natural water cycles are completely disrupted, ship navigation is disrupted. However, with multiple ponds, power can be generated at chosen times. So far, there are few installed systems for tidal power generation (most famously, La Rance at Saint Malo, France) which face many difficulties. Aside from environmental issues, simply withstanding corrosion and biological fouling pose engineering challenges.

Tidal power proponents point out that, unlike wind power systems, generation levels can be reliably predicted, save for weather effects. While some generation is possible for most of the tidal cycle, in practice turbines l

Tidal power proponents point out that, unlike wind power systems, generation levels can be reliably predicted, save for weather effects. While some generation is possible for most of the tidal cycle, in practice turbines lose efficiency at lower operating rates. Since the power available from a flow is proportional to the cube of the flow speed, the times during which high power generation is possible are brief.

Tidal flows are important for navigation, and significant errors in position occur if they are not accommodated. Tidal heights are also important; for example many rivers and harbours have a shallow "bar" at the entrance which prevents boats with significant draft from entering at low tide.

Until the advent of automated navigation, competence in calculating tidal effects was important to naval officers. The certificate of examination for lieutenants in the Royal Navy once declared that the prospective officer was able to "shift his tides".[63]

Tidal flow timings and velocities appear in tide charts or a tidal stream atlas. Tide charts come in sets. Each chart covers a single hour between one high water and another (they ignore the leftover 24 minutes) and show the average tidal flow for that hour. An arrow on the tidal chart indicates the direction and the average flow speed (usually in knots) for spring and neap tides. If a tide chart is not available, most nautical charts have "tidal diamonds" which relate specific points on the chart to a table giving tidal flow direction and speed.

The standa

Until the advent of automated navigation, competence in calculating tidal effects was important to naval officers. The certificate of examination for lieutenants in the Royal Navy once declared that the prospective officer was able to "shift his tides".[63]

Tidal flow timings and velocities appear in tide charts or a tidal stream atlas. Tide charts come in sets. Each chart covers a single hour between one high water and another (they ignore the leftover 24 minutes) and show the average tidal flow for that hour. An arrow on the tidal chart indicates the direction and the average flow speed (usually in knots) for spring and neap tides. If a tide chart is not available, most nautical charts have "tidal diamonds" which relate specific points on the chart to a table giving tidal flow direction and speed.