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how tides work

How Tides Work

The Earth’s oceans are constantly going through changes. One change that is most noticeable are the tides. The tide changes are caused by the rotation of the earth and the gravitational pullhow the tides work from the moon and sun. The type of tide most of us are familiar with is known as a semi-diurnal tide meaning there are two high water cycles and two low water cycles each day. When the moon rotates around the earth its gravity pulls water towards it. The reason for the high tide opposite the moon is due to bathymetry. This means when water is forced in one direction it also travels in the opposite direction.

Because there are two main gravitational forces on the ocean, tides usually are not the same height each cycle. For instance, have you ever seen a solar eclipse? During an eclipse the sun and moon are pulling the oceans stronger in one direction causing the tide to be much higher than normal. This would limit the amount of water forced into high tide on the opposite side of the earth causing different water levels in a tide cycle.

The shifting of tides also form natural currents that pull and push water through intercostal waterways. This can be noticed on Lake Worth shortly after a low tide. The green brackish water from the rivers is forced back up the waterway and the clear blue ocean water fills up the lagoon. Knowing how the shifting tides affect our waterways is important for any recreational paddler or snorkeler. It allows us to anticipate when the water visibility, levels, and currents are going to work in our favor or hinder our progress.