What’s a tide gauge?

The  NOAA San Francisco Tide Station, in operation for more than 150 years.

The rise and fall of the tides play an vital position within the pure world and might have a marked impact on maritime-related actions. The picture aboves reveals the NOAA San Francisco Tide Station, in operation for greater than 150 years.


A tide gauge, which is one part of a contemporary water degree monitoring station, is fitted with sensors that constantly document the peak of the encompassing water degree. This knowledge is important for a lot of coastal actions, together with protected navigation, sound engineering, and habitat restoration and preservation.

Earlier than computer systems had been used to document water ranges (particularly tides), particular “tide homes” sheltered everlasting tide gauges. Housed inside was the instrumentation—together with a properly and a mechanical pen-and-ink (analog) recorder—whereas hooked up outdoors was a tide or tidal employees. Basically a large measuring stick, the tide employees allowed scientists to manually observe tidal ranges after which examine them to readings taken each six minutes by the recorder. Tide homes and the information they recorded required month-to-month upkeep, when scientists would acquire the information tapes and mail them to headquarters for handbook processing.

The New

diagram of newer tide stations

Whereas related in design to older tide homes, newer tide station enclosures are designed to guard delicate electronics, transmitting tools, and backup energy and knowledge storage gadgets. The older stilling properly has been changed with an acoustic sounding tube and the tidal employees with a stress sensor. The brand new discipline tools is designed to function with the best degree of accuracy with a minimal of upkeep, transmitting knowledge straight again to NOAA headquarters for evaluation and distribution.


The Previous

diagram of older tide stations

Earlier than computer systems, particular “tide homes” had been constructed to shelter everlasting water degree recorders, defending them from harsh environmental circumstances. On this diagram, we will see how the analog knowledge recorder is located inside the home with the float, and the stilling properly situated straight beneath it. Connected to one of many piers’ pilings is a tidal employees. This machine would enable scientists to manually observe the tidal degree after which examine it to the readings taken by the analog recorder.


The pc age led to tide gauges that use microprocessor-based applied sciences to gather sea-level knowledge. Whereas older tide-measuring stations used mechanical floats and recorders, fashionable monitoring stations use superior acoustics and electronics. At the moment’s recorders ship an audio sign down a half-inch-wide “sounding tube” and measure the time it takes for the mirrored sign to journey again from the water’s floor. Knowledge continues to be collected each six minutes, however whereas the outdated recording stations used mechanical timers to inform them when to take a studying, a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite tv for pc (GOES) controls the timing on right this moment’s stations.

Along with measuring tidal heights extra precisely, fashionable water degree stations are able to measuring 11 different oceanographic and meteorological parameters, together with wind pace and path, air and water temperature, and barometric stress. NOAA makes use of this data for a lot of functions, amongst them to make sure protected navigation, document and predict sea-level developments and different oceanographic circumstances through nowcasts and forecasts, and publish annual tide predictions.

What’s a meteotsunami?

a stormy ocean, iStock image

Stormy climate over the ocean can typically gasoline the event of meteotsunamis, a sequence of waves usually a lot smaller and fewer harmful than these related to seismically generated tsunamis.

Seiches and meteotsunamis. What is the distinction?

Seiches and meteotsunamis are sometimes grouped collectively, however they’re two totally different occasions. Winds and atmospheric stress can contribute to the formation of each seiches and meteotsunamis; nevertheless, winds are usually extra necessary to a seiche movement, whereas stress typically performs a considerable function in meteotsunami formation. Generally a seiche and a meteotsunami may even happen on the similar time. Seiches are standing waves with longer durations of water-level oscillations (usually exceeding durations of three or extra hours), whereas meteotsunamis are progressive waves restricted to the tsunami frequency band of wave durations (two minutes to 2 hours). Seiches are often restricted to partially or absolutely enclosed basins, resembling Lake Erie. Meteotsunamis can happen in such basins however are additionally prevalent on the open coast. A single meteotsunami can journey lengthy distances and affect a really massive vary of the shoreline.


You’ve heard of tsunamis—these large oceanic waves triggered primarily by earthquakes that may roll ashore, inflicting lack of life and catastrophe. However have you ever heard of meteotsunamis?

Meteotsunamis are massive waves that scientists are simply starting to raised perceive. In contrast to tsunamis triggered by seismic exercise, meteotsunamis are pushed by air-pressure disturbances typically related to fast-moving climate occasions, resembling extreme thunderstorms, squalls, and different storm fronts. The storm generates a wave that strikes in direction of the shore, and is amplified by a shallow continental shelf and inlet, bay, or different coastal function.

Meteotsunamis have been noticed to succeed in heights of 6 ft or extra. They happen in lots of locations all over the world, together with the Nice Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Coast, and the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.

Figuring out a meteotsunami is a problem as a result of its traits are nearly indistinguishable from a seismic tsunami. It may also be confused with wind-driven storm surge or a seiche. These uncertainties make it tough to foretell a meteotsunami and warn the general public of a possible occasion. Nonetheless, NOAA scientists have recognized atmospheric circumstances which are more likely to generate a meteotsunami and proceed to work on methods to forecast them.

Are tides larger when the moon is instantly overhead?

Earth viewed from the surface of the moon

This NASA picture from the Apollo 8 mission exhibits the Earth seen over the horizon of the moon. Whereas the moon and solar trigger tides on our planet, the gravitational pull of those celestial our bodies doesn’t dictate when excessive or low tides happen.


Tides originate within the ocean and progress towards the coastlines, the place they seem because the common rise and fall of the ocean floor. Because of Sir Isaac Newton’s 1687 discovery, we all know that tides are very long-period waves that transfer by the ocean in response to forces exerted by the moon and solar. Nevertheless, these gravitational forces don’t management when excessive or low tide occasions happen. Different forces, extra regional than the moon or solar, management the tides. Lots of them need to do with the geography and form of the Earth.

The form of our planet has loads to do with variations in gravitational pull at numerous places. If Earth was a real sphere lined by an ocean of fixed depth, then it might be true {that a} excessive tide occasion would happen on the location with the moon overhead. The tidal “bulge” would transfer across the Earth with the moon, however this isn’t the case with our planet. The Earth just isn’t a real sphere, however bulges barely on the Equator. Additionally it is dotted with massive land lots (continents). Areas the place the Earth’s floor is larger, akin to mountains, have a stronger gravitational power than do locations the place the floor is decrease, akin to a valley or cavern. On the similar time, the depth of the world ocean varies vastly. All of those components play into the peak of the tides.

One other factor to think about when enthusiastic about tides is the dimension of time. There are lags in time when an observer experiences excessive or low tide, and the lag varies from one location to a different. For instance, the rising slope of the ocean ground approaching the U.S. East (often known as the continental rise, continental slope, and continental shelf) slows down the tidal “bulge” or “wave” of water. The lag may be hours and even near a complete day in some elements of the world. Consider the wave or bulge that you simply see if you throw a rock right into a pond. The wave travels outward in a hoop. If there’s a tree or different obstruction within the pond, the ring of waves would journey and wrap round it. The identical holds true for the tides.

NOAA’s Heart for Operational Oceanographic Merchandise and Providers makes use of superior acoustic and digital tools to measure and monitor the tides alongside our coasts. NOAA has water remark stations in additional than 3,000 places across the U.S. to look at water ranges and generate tidal predictions.