What are Spring Tide and its causes?

Introduction to Spring Tide

Can you imagine some gravitational pull of the Sun and the Moon can affect the natural world here on Earth? This phenomenon is known as a tide that occurs in the ocean. In oceans, the rise and fall of the water is a regular and common phenomenon. When these tides occur, the waves move towards the shores and affect the coastlines as well as the maritime activities of the nations. These tides are of various types. In this article, we will be talking about some of its types, such as spring and neap tides, the definition of spring tide or neap tide definition, perigean tide and all the related concepts. This topic will help you in Geography and Geology or Earth Sciences whenever you read about Oceanography.

Tides are the waves that occur through the regular change in the sea level caused by the moon and the sun. Tides emerge in the sea and go towards the coastlines. At the time of high tide, the sea is closer to the land, and at the low tide, it is farther away from, and more of the beach can be seen. It is caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun. It happens twice every day. Due to the change of the tides, large quantities of water move towards or away from shore, causing tidal currents. 

 

Spring Tide

Spring tide is one of the types of it. A tide that comes just after a new or full moon when there is a huge difference between high and low water. This is popularly known as a "King Tide" which refers to the "springing forth" of the tide during a new and full moon. It usually occurs three and four times in the year. This tide occurs at a couple of inches to normal spring tides. The term spring is derived from the concept of the tide "Springing forth". It occurs in the lunar month. 

 

Spring Tide Definition

Some of the standard and recognised definitions are mentioned below:

  • "Either of the two tides that occur at or just after the new moon and full moon when the tide-generating force of the sun acts in the same direction as that of the moon, reinforcing it and causing the greatest rise and fall in tidal level. The highest spring tides (equinoctial springs) occur at the equinoxes." Or "A spring tide is an unusually high tide that happens at the time of a new moon or a full moon." - Collins dictionary.

  • "It is a tide of the greater-than-average range around the times of new moon and full moon." - Merriam-Webster.

 

Causes of Spring Tides

The various reasons why spring tides occur are mentioned below:

  • The forces that contribute to tides are called tidal constituents.

  • The moon's gravitational pull on the earth is the major tidal constituent.

  • The greater gravitational force between the objects is close to each other.

  • The sun and moon both exert gravitational force on the earth.

  • The moon's pull is stronger than the sun.

  • Because it is much closer to the earth than the sun.

  • It exerts a tidal force on the whole earth.

 

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Effects of Spring Tide

The most prominent effect of spring tide is on the tides that take place in the oceans or seas. As we have studied earlier, Spring tides occur when there is a full moon or new moon. During these events, the gravitational pull experienced by the Earth is very high because it experiences the pull from both the sun as well as from the moon. This results in the occurrence of high tides in the seas or the oceans. 

 

Neap Tide

After the seven days of spring tide, the moon and sun are at right angles to each other. These are known as neap tides. It refers to a period of moderate tides. It has small tides. The meaning of it is that the high tides are a little lower, and the low tides are a little higher than average. It occurs because the sun and moon pull the water in different directions.

 

Neap Tide Definition

Some of the recognised and standard definitions are mentioned below:

  • "It is a tide of minimum range occurring at first and the third quarters of the moon." - Merriam-Webster.

  • "either of the two tides that occur at the first or last quarter of the moon when the tide-generating forces of the sun and moon oppose each other and produce the smallest rise and fall in tidal level" - Collins dictionary.

 

Causes of Neap Tides

The various reasons why neap tides occur are mentioned below:

  • When the gravitational pull of the sun is added to the gravitational pull of the moon on earth, it causes the oceans to bulge a bit more.

  • It occurs during the first and third quarter of the moon when the moon appears "half full."

  • During the time of full and the new moon, which occurs when the Earth, sun, and moon are nearly in alignment, the range of the tides is slightly larger.

  • This occurs twice each month.

 

Spring Tide and Neap Tide

The spring tides have higher high tides and lower low tides, whereas neap tides have lower high tides and higher low tides. The difference in the range of the water level between high and low tide is much larger in a spring tide than in a low tide.

 

Perigean Spring Tide

A Perigean tide occurs when the moon is new or full and is either closest to the Earth. The full moon or new moon closely coincides with the perigee of the moon. It often occurs six to eight times a year. These are called Perigean Spring Tides. During the time of perigean spring tide, high tides can be significantly higher than the other times of the year.

 

Causes of Perigean Spring Tide

The various causes of the occurrence of perigean spring tide are given below:

  • When the Perigean Spring Tide combines with the seasonal changes in the tide, the sea level may cause little coastal flooding in some low lying areas.

  • It is referred to as high tide flooding and nuisance flooding.

  • Main coastal flooding occurs in response to strong onshore winds barometric pressure changes from a coastal storm.

  • Flooding could be worse if a storm strikes during the perigean spring tide.

  • Sometimes Perigean Spring Tides have coincided with offshore ocean patterns and large winds that have resulted in highly coastal flooding.

 

Effect of the Perigee

After 28 days, the moon reaches "perigee." It is the closest point of the approach to the Earth. This is the time when the gravitational force of the moon is strong. There will be an increase in the average range of tides during these periods. After about 14 days, the moon reaches 'apogee'. This is the point where the gravitational force of the moon is weak. At this time of the period, the range of the tides decreases.

 

Conclusion

To conclude, we can say that tides are very long-period waves that move through the oceans in response to the force exerted by the moon and the sun if we talk about the types of tides. They mainly are spring tides and neap tides. "Spring tides" are those tides that occurred at that time when the sun and moon both aligned with the earth. And after the seven days of spring tide, the moon and sun are at right angles to each other. At this time, moderate types of tides are produced. 

These tides are known as "neap tides." Spring tides have higher high tides and lower low tides, and on the other hand, the neap tides have higher low tides and lower high tides. There is one more tide which is the type of spring tide, which is called "Perigean Spring Tide". It only occurs when the moon is new or full and either closest to the Earth. High tides can be significantly higher than the other times of the year. It is also known as the "king tide".

We have learned about tide, spring or neap tide, neap tide definition, spring tide definition and causes, and other related aspects. 

 

Fun Facts about tides

  • Tides get affected by local conditions prevailing in the region

  • At many places, tidal energy is harnessed to run turbines, thereby generating energy and electricity

  • Tidal forces also affect solid earth, which in turn influences tides to change shape by a few inches

  • The first scientist to claim that tides were caused by the moon was Astronomer Seleucus of Seleucia in 150 B.C.

  • Tidal power is the most predictable among all other energy sources

  • The varying shape of the ocean floor results in larger tidal energies at some places as compared to other regions  

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are Tides? Define Spring Tides.

Tides are very long-period waves that move through the oceans in response to the force exerted by the moon and sun. Tides originate in the oceans and progress towards where they appear as the regular rise and fall of the sea surface. One of its types is spring tide. The tide which occurs at that time of full or new moon when the sun and moon both aligned with the earth is known as a spring tide.

2. What Causes Tides?

Gravity is one of the major forces that create the tide. The tides occur when the Earth, the sun and the moon are in a line. The gravitational forces of the moon and sun both contribute to the tides.

3. What are Spring and Neap Tides?

If we talk about the "spring tide", it is maximal in range. Near the time of the new moon or full moon when the sun and moon both aligned with the earth. It occurs three or four times a year. It is also known as the "King Tide" and after the seven days of spring tide, the moon and the sun are at right angles to each other which produces moderate types of tides. These tides are known as "neap tides." These are low tides as compared to the spring tides.

4. Why is Spring Tide Neap Tide So Called?

The word spring tide has nothing to do with the spring season. Actually, it is a common and historical term that is derived from the tide springing forth and it occurs twice with respect to the lunar month the whole year and not with the regard of any season whereas the tide occurs after the 7 days of the spring tide on the first and third quarter of the moon, is actually called Neap tide.

5. What types of tides have been discussed in the Spring Tide topic?

The topic of Spring Tide - Explanation, Causes, Effect and FAQs discusses various types of tides even if the title mentions only spring tide. Here three types of tides have been discussed, which are as follows:

  1. Spring Tide: Spring tide occurs when the difference between high and low water is the greatest, that is, after the new moon or full moon 

  2. Neap Tide: Neap tide occurs seven days after the spring tide. This is a period when moderate tides are observed, and the sun and the moon are at right angles with each other.

  3. Perigean Spring Tide: It is observed when perigee and spring tide takes place simultaneously. This phenomenon adds a couple of inches to the spring tides.

6. What are the effects of Spring Tide - Explanation, Causes, Effect and FAQs?

Various effects of Spring Tide - Explanation, Causes, Effect and FAQs are observed on the surface of the earth. One of the most prominent is the effect on the ocean tides. During spring tides full moon occurs; thus its gravity combined with the gravity of the sun pulls on the earth either from the same side or from the opposite directions. This results in the formation of the high tides. The opposite is observed during the neap tide. Apart from this, it might affect the normal brain functioning of a few animals, but it is a disputed claim.   

7. Will I be able to cover the topic of Spring Tide in just 2 hours?

Yes, you will be able to cover the topic Spring Tide - Explanation, Causes, Effect and FAQs in less than 2 hours if you study it from the Vedantu’s website and free study materials available on the website as well as on the mobile application. Studying it from the Vedantu’s website will not only cover spring tides but also related topics like neap tides and perigean spring tides. This ensures that the whole gamut of topics is covered. We suggest you revise this topic at least twice before your exams to score excellent marks on any questions that may be asked from this topic.  

8. How is neap tide directly or indirectly related to Spring Tide?

The phenomenon of the neap tide is closely related to Spring Tide - Explanation, Causes, Effect and FAQs. Spring tides occur on the full moon or the new moon, and the neap tide takes place after seven days. During spring tides, one witness high tides due to the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun, whereas during the neap tide, you get to witness low tides. During neap tides, the moon and sun are at the right angles to each other unlike during spring tide.    

9.Where does Spring Tide get its name?

Very often students tend to think that the name of Spring Tide - Explanation, Causes, Effect and FAQs is based on the spring season. This is far from the truth. The name of the phenomenon has got nothing to do with the spring season. It is a very common and historical term derived from the spring tiding forth. It occurs twice with respect to the lunar month in the whole year and not with regard to any season. Thus you need not confuse it with the name of the season which occurs annually. 

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