Scientists Can’t Figure out Source of Mysteriously High Tides on East Coast of USA

Thursday, 30 July 2009
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Pier at SunsetThroughout the summer from Maine for Florida, scientists can't explain why tides at some location have been higher then predicted by as much as two feet.

The change has come too fast to be attributed to melting ice sheets or anything quite that dramatic, and it’s a puzzle for scientists who’ve never seen anything quite like it.

“The ocean is dynamic. It’s not uncommon to have anomalies like this but the breadth and the intensity and duration were unique,” said Mike Szabados, director of the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration’s tide and current program.

The unexpected tidal surge is subsiding, has reduced its reach from the entire coast, and is now concentrated just in the mid-Atlantic states.

NOAA is rushing to study the data in an effort to understand what happened. Szabados’ office is already putting the finishing touches on a report that will be released next month on the wind and current patterns that appear to be correlated with the tidal surge.

Szabados said that two main factors appear to have contributed to the extra high tides. First, there were steady winds out of the northeast throughout this anomaly. Second, the ocean current running from Florida up along the coast weakened. While the associations between these phenomena and the tides are provocactive, it’s too early to tell how fully they explain this unexpected tidal event.

More info: wired.com
Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org

David Johnston

David Johnston

David Johnston has been introducing people to the sport of sea kayaking for the past 15 years. He is a senior instructor trainer with Paddle Canada and teaches for several paddling schools in Ontario, Canada. Full Bio.

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