TIDE SIMULATION

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TIDE SIMULATION Powered By Docstoc
					 TIDE SIMULATION
       Bryce M. Hand
Emeritus Professor of Geology
    Syracuse University

                                January, 2010
     Tides are not as usually represented!
   Tides are commonly depicted as twice-daily rise-and-fall of sea level produced by a
locality’s passing through oceanic tidal bulges directed towards and away-from the
Moon. While it’s true that the gravitational pull of the Moon (and to a lesser extent, the
Sun) causes our tides as the Earth rotates, those ocean tidal bulges don’t exist. One
can confirm this by noting that high tides don’t necessarily happen when the Moon is
at its highest position in the sky (or directly underfoot, on the far side of the Earth)…as
would be predicted by the tidal-bulge model. In fact, almost anywhere along our east
coast, low tide occurs when the tidal-bulge model calls for high tide!

  For example, here are tides for Coney Island (NY) on January 15, 2010:




                       Time when Moon is at its highest point in the sky
                          and tidal-bulge model predicts High Tide
                                   Actual Tides

   As Earth rotates, the gravitational attraction of the Moon (and Sun) do disturb the oceans.
But instead of producing simple bulges that follow the Moon from east to west, the result is a
complex system of waves that travel in circles around centers known as amphidromic points.
In the Atlantic Ocean, there are two such basin-wide rotational (amphidromic) systems, one in
the South Atlantic, the other in the North Atlantic. Each of these is like a wave sloshing
around the outside of a washbasin that you move with a circular motion: At any instant, the
water will be high (“high tide”) on one side of the basin, and low (“low tide”) on the opposite
side. In the center of the basin, as in real-world amphidromic systems, there’s little or no
vertical motion of the water surface as the tides race around the perimeter.

   The Simulation presented here will show the behavior of the two main Atlantic systems.
         How the Simulation was Constructed
  The maps in this Simulation are based on the world tides map posted in 2007 on NASA’s
Global Geophysical Fluids Center website (http://bowie.gsfc.nasa.gov/ggfc/tides/):




   I assigned spectral colors to different stages in the tidal cycle, then colored segments
 defined by the (white) cotidal lines of the NASA map to show how sea-surface height
 would appear at any particular time.

 NOTE: The colors in my Simulation maps have nothing to do with the colors on the NASA
 map, which show tidal range, not instantaneous heights.
                      Running the Simulation
  The Simulation begins (“0 Hours”) when it’s high tide along our east coast.
Subsequent slides show conditions hour-by-hour, through slightly more than one day.
By the time you reach “24 Hours,” tides will have performed two complete
counterclockwise circuits around each amphidromic center.*

   I suggest running the Simulation multiple times and at different speeds, focusing on
one part or another of the Atlantic, to see how the northern and southern systems
behave individually and how they interact.




*Strictly speaking, each sector defined by cotidal lines represents a time interval a bit
longer than an hour, because the Moon advances in its orbit around Earth by about
13° each day and tidal period is determined by Earth’s rotation with respect to the
Moon. This change in the Moon’s position explains why high tide (or any other
particular tidal phase) occurs an hour (actually, 50 minutes) later each day. But to be a
stickler about this, I’d have had to label successive maps “One Hour and Two
Minutes,” “Two Hours and Five Minutes,” etc. Living with the 4 percent discrepancy
seemed worth it!
        Tide at
       New York




                      H




   0 Hours
(Begin first cycle)
                          H
  Tide at
 New York




                H

            H




1 Hour
                    H
   Tide at
  New York




             H




2 Hours          H
   Tide at
  New York



             H




                 H

3 Hours
   Tide at
  New York

             H




                 H


4 Hours
   Tide at
  New York
             H




                 H


5 Hours
   Tide at   H
  New York




                 H



6 Hours
             H
   Tide at
  New York




                 H



7 Hours
   Tide at   H
  New York




                 H




8 Hours
                 H
   Tide at
  New York   H




                 H




9 Hours
                 H
   Tide at
  New York   H




                 H




                 H


10 Hours
             H
   Tide at
  New York
             H



                 H




                 H


11 Hours
                     H
   Tide at
  New York




             H




12 Hours
                 H
   Tide at
  New York




                 H

             H




13 Hours
                     H
   Tide at
  New York




             H




14 Hours         H
   Tide at
  New York



             H




                 H

15 Hours
   Tide at
  New York

             H




                 H


16 Hours
   Tide at
  New York
             H




                 H


17 Hours
   Tide at   H
  New York




                 H



18 Hours
   Tide at   H
  New York




                 H



19 Hours
   Tide at   H
  New York




                 H




20 Hours
                 H
   Tide at
  New York   H




                 H




21 Hours
                 H
   Tide at
  New York   H




                 H




                 H


22 Hours
                     H
   Tide at
  New York
             H



                 H




                 H


23 Hours
                     H
   Tide at
  New York




             H




24 Hours
                 H
     Tide at
    New York




                   H

               H




25 Hours
(New cycle)
                       H
   Tide at
  New York




             H




26 Hours         H
   Tide at
  New York



             H




                 H

27 Hours
End of Simulation
End of Simulation

				
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