Coastal Tides & Currents
The tide induced rise and fall of sea level and associated currents directly affect the navigability of waterways and harbors and vessel course and speed. In combination with local winds and water depths, tidal conditions may also affect sea state, particularly in the narrow inlets prevalent along the U.S. East Coast. Analysis of the tidal conditions likely to be encountered represents an essential part of all coastal cruise plans. Planning requires an understanding of the factors governing tidal elevations and currents and the reasons why conditions in adjoining areas can differ substantially. We will review the fundamentals of tidal dynamics and the relative importance of the earth’s rotation and waterway configuration and water depths on tidal range, timing and current speeds. With this as background we will examine tidal conditions in selected estuaries and embayments, along the east coast of North America from Canada to the Caribbean, to evaluate the role of basin resonance (Long Island Sound and the Bay of Fundy), river flows (New York Harbor) and inlet morphology (Jersey coast and south) on the local tidal regime. In class hands-on exercises will examine student selected sites. A listing of primary source documents and recommended readings will be provided prior to the class.