Using Loch Ness to track the tilt of the world

January 2, 2012

That the rise and fall of the tide is primarily driven by the gravitational pull of the moon and the Sun is common knowledge, but not all tides are controlled by such a standard mechanism.

Researchers working on Loch Ness in Scotland find that rather than the loch's tide being driven directly by this so-called astronomical tide, it is also controlled by a process known as ocean tidal loading.

Loch Ness lies just 13 kilometers (8 miles) inshore from the . The astronomical tide redistributes the ocean to such an extent that the changing mass of water along the coast deforms the . As the ocean tide ebbs and flows, the surface of the Earth rises and falls.

Through a series of distributed throughout that measured the height of the water, and by ruling out other potential sources, Pugh et al. find that this local shift in the shape of the Earth—like a bowl of water on an unstable table—controls the loch's tide.

They find that the tide has a magnitude of 1.5 millimeters (0.06 inches), a measurement made to an accuracy of just 0.1 mm (0.004 in) over the loch's 35 km (22 mi) length.

The authors suggest that this sensitivity in measuring the effects of tidal loading surpasses even that possible using Global Positioning Satellite receivers.

The authors hope that similar experiments conducted at suitable lakes worldwide could be used to better understand oceanic tidal loading.

Explore further: King tides -- a glimpse of future sea level rise

More information: “Lunar Tides in Loch Ness, Scotland", Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans, doi:10.1029/2011JC007411, 2011

Related Stories

King tides -- a glimpse of future sea level rise

January 12, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Tomorrow, beach-goers will get a glimpse of what our coastlines may look like in 50 years, when New South Wales and South East Queensland experience the highest daytime ‘king tides’ forecast for 2009.

Clockmaker develops accurate tide clock

January 5, 2007

A Scottish clockmaker, accepting the gauntlet tossed in 2005, said he developed a clock that accurately predicts the time the tides roll in.

Study: Sea stars bulk up to beat the heat

November 17, 2009

A new study finds that a species of sea star stays cool using a strategy never before seen in the animal kingdom. The sea stars soak up cold sea water into their bodies during high tide as buffer against potentially damaging ...

Recommended for you

Scientists examine bacterium found 1,000 feet underground

December 8, 2016

Pioneering work being carried out in a cave in New Mexico by researchers at McMaster University and The University of Akron, Ohio, is changing the understanding of how antibiotic resistance may have emerged and how doctors ...

New studies take a second look at coral bleaching culprit

December 7, 2016

Scientists have called superoxide out as the main culprit behind coral bleaching: The idea is that as this toxin build up inside coral cells, the corals fight back by ejecting the tiny energy- and color-producing algae living ...

Cosmic dust found in city rooftop gutters

December 7, 2016

(Phys.org)—A small team of researchers with Imperial College London, the Natural History Museum in London, Project Stardust in Norway and Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium, has found samples of cosmic dust in the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.