Using Loch Ness to track the tilt of the world

Jan 02, 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: Asian monsoon much older than previously thought

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

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

King tides -- a glimpse of future sea level rise

Jan 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 ...

Clockmaker develops accurate tide clock

Jan 05, 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

Nov 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

Asian monsoon much older than previously thought

16 hours ago

The Asian monsoon already existed 40 million years ago during a period of high atmospheric carbon dioxide and warmer temperatures, reports an international research team led by a University of Arizona geoscientist.

Rules of thumb for climate change turned upside down

16 hours ago

With a new analysis of land regions, ETH climate researcher are challenging the general climate change paradigm that dry regions are getting drier and wet regions are getting wetter. In some regions they ...

Tropical Storm Odile taken on by two NASA satellites

Sep 12, 2014

As Tropical Storm Odile continues to affect Mexico's west coast and stir up dangerous surf, NASA's TRMM and Aqua satellites provided forecasters information on clouds and rainfall in the coast-hugging storm. ...

User comments : 0