Tidal Range

The tidal range is the vertical difference between the high tide and the succeeding low tide. 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. The tidal range is not constant, but changes depending on where the sun and the moon are.

The most extreme tidal range occurs around the time of the full or new moons, when the gravitational forces of both the Sun and Moon are in phase, reinforcing each other in the same direction (new moon), or are exactly the opposite phase (full). This type of tide is known as a spring tide. 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 coincidental with a spring tide.

Tidal data for coastal areas is published by the national hydrographic service of the country concerned. Tidal data is based on astronomical phenomena and is predictable. Storm force winds blowing from a steady direction for a prolonged time interval 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.

Read more about Tidal Range:  Geography, Classification, See Also

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