Electronic versions



  • Ivan D. Haigh
    University of Southampton
  • Mark D. Pickering
    University of Southampton
  • J. A. Mattias Green
  • Brian K. Arbic
    University of Michigan
  • Arne Arns
    University of Rostock
  • Sonke Dangendorf
    Old Dominion University
  • David F. Hill
    Oregon State University
  • Kevin Horsburgh
    National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool
  • Tom Howard
    Met Office
  • Deborah Idier
    Risk and Climate Change Unit, Orléans
  • David A. Jay
    Portland State University
  • Leon Jaenicke
    University of Siegen
  • Serena B. Lee
    Griffith University, Queensland
  • Malte Mueller
    Norwegian Meteorological Institute, Oslo
  • Michael Schindelegger
    Universitat Bonn
  • Stefan A. Talke
    Portland State University
  • Sophie-Berenice Wilmes
  • Philip L. Woodworth
    National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool
Scientists and engineers have observed for some time that tidal amplitudes at many locations are shifting considerably due to nonastronomical factors. Here we review comprehensively these important changes in tidal properties, many of which remain poorly understood. Over long geological time scales,tectonic processes drive variations in basin size, depth, and shape and hence the resonant properties of ocean basins. On shorter geological time scales, changes in oceanic tidal properties are dominated by variations in water depth. A growing number of studies have identified widespread, sometimes regionally coherent,positive, and negative trends in tidal constituents and levels during the 19th, 20th, and early 21st centuries.Determining the causes is challenging because a tide measured at a coastal gauge integrates the effects of local, regional, and oceanic changes. Here, we highlight six main factors that can cause changes in measured tidal statistics on local scales and a further eight possible regional/global driving mechanisms. Since only a few studies have combined observations and models, or modeled at a temporal/spatial resolution capable of resolving both ultralocal and large‐scale global changes, the individual contributions from local and regional mechanisms remain uncertain. Nonetheless, modeling studies project that sea level rise and climate change will continue to alter tides over the next several centuries, with regionally coherent modes of change caused by alterations to coastal morphology and ice sheet extent. Hence, a better understanding of the causes and consequences of tidal variations is needed to help assess the implications for coastal defense, risk assessment, and ecological change


  • tides, mean sea level, tectonics, flooding, erosion
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2018RG000636
JournalReviews of Geophysics
Issue number1
Early online date13 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Total downloads

No data available
View graph of relations