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.
Some shorelines experience two almost equal high tides and two low tides each day, called a semi-diurnal tide. Some locations experience only one high and one 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 the 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 by 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.
Famous quotes containing the word tide:
“It is said that the British Empire is very large and respectable, and that the United States are a first-rate power. We do not believe that a tide rises and falls behind every man which can float the British Empire like a chip, if he should ever harbor it in his mind.”
—Henry David Thoreau (18171862)
“There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
—William Shakespeare (15641616)
“Anyone with a real taste for solitude who indulges that taste encounters the dangers of any other drug-taker. The habit grows. You become an addict.... Absorbed in the visions of solitude, human beings are only interruptions. What voice can equal the voices of solitude? What sights equal the movement of a single days tide of light across the floor boards of one room? What drama be as continuously absorbing as the interior one?”
—Jessamyn West (19021984)