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

Synthetic chemicals: Ignored agents of global change

January 24, 2017

Despite a steady rise in the manufacture and release of synthetic chemicals, research on the ecological effects of pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and industrial chemicals is severely lacking. This blind spot undermines efforts ...

New findings on carbon cycle feed climate research

January 23, 2017

A Florida State University researcher is taking a deep dive into the carbon cycle and investigating how carbon moves from the ocean surface to greater depths and then remains there for hundreds of years.

Arctic melt ponds form when meltwater clogs ice pores

January 23, 2017

When spring comes to the Arctic, the breakup of the cold winter ice sheets starts at the surface with the formation of melt ponds. These pools of melted snow and ice darken the surface of the ice, increasing the amount of ...

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.