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Tides and Decadal VariabilityThis paper reviews the mechanisms by which oceanic tides and decadal variability in the oceans are connected. We distinguish between variability caused by tides and variability observed in the tides themselves. Both effects have been detected at some level. The most obvious connection with decadal timescales is through the 18.6-year precession of the moon's orbit plane. This precession gives rise to a small tide of the same period and to 18.6-year modulations in the phase and amplitudes of short-period tides. The 18.6-year "node tide" is very small, no more than 2 cm anywhere, and in sea level data it is dominated by the ocean's natural Variability. Some authors have naively attributed climate variations with periods near 19 years directly to the node tide, but the amplitude of the tide is too small for this mechanism to be operative. The more likely explanation (Loder and Garrett, JGR, 83, 1967-70, 1978) is that the 18.6-y modulations in short-period tides, especially h e principal tide M2, cause variations in ocean mixing, which is then observed in temperature and other climatic indicators. Tidally forced variability has also been proposed by some authors, either in response to occasional (and highly predictable) tidal extremes or as a nonlinear low-frequency oscillation caused by interactions between short-period tides. The former mechanism can produce only short-duration events hardly more significant than normal tidal ranges, but the latter mechanism can in principle induce low-frequency oscillations. The most recent proposal of this type is by Keeling and Whorf, who highlight the 1800-year spectral peak discovered by Bond et al. (1997). But the proposal appears contrived and should be considered, in the words of Munk et al. (2002), "as the most likely among unlikely candidates."
Document ID
Document Type
Preprint (Draft being sent to journal)
Ray, Richard D.
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD, United States)
Date Acquired
August 21, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 2003
Subject Category
Meeting Information
Tides and Decadal Variability Workshop(Waikoloa, HI)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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