Tides Explained

High Tide vs. Low Tide

Tides are the rise and fall of the sea levels. The above image captures this very normal phenomenon that we can all observe for ourselves if we go to an oceanside beach. Whenever I went to the beach as a young kid, I was always hoping the tides would be high. Since I knew they would be higher the later it got into the evening, I was always determined to stay as late as possible. But why does this happen? This is tides explained.

The Moon’s gravitational influence is responsible for tidal flows of water. It is common knowledge that the Moon feels the gravitational pull from the Earth, which explains why the Moon orbits the Earth. However, many people may not know that the Earth feels a gravitational pull from the Moon too.

Earth, Moon, and Sun Cartoon

The closer an object is to a massive object, the stronger that massive object’s gravitational pull is on that other object. Likewise, the further away an object is from a massive object, the weaker that massive object’s gravitational pull on that other object is. Therefore, the side of the Earth facing toward the Earth feels a much stronger gravitational pull from the Moon facing away from it does. This explains why if you were to go the beach at midnight when the Moon is in the sky, the tidal waves would be much higher than if you were to go to the beach at noon when the Moon isn’t in sight.

However, local geography also has an effect on how high the tides are. A location in which water does not flow completely freely will experience later high tides than locations in which water does flow freely.


2 thoughts on “Tides Explained”

  1. I always find it so fascinating how different the neap and spring tides can be. To me, the neap tides are kind of pathetic. The video we watched in class showed how little the difference is. To contrast, the spring tides are awesome. In the video from class, the water receded tens of feet from high tide to low tide. I grew up less than 10 minutes away from the Atlantic Ocean, so tides are a very familiar concept to me.


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