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Tidal ranges.

The tidal range is the vertical difference between the high tide and the succeeding low tide. It is the difference in height between high and low tide and will vary throughout the tidal cycle. The most extreme tidal range will occur around the time of the full or new moons, when gravity of both the Sun and Moon are acting in the the same direction (new moon), or exactly opposite way (full). This type of tide is known as a spring tide. During neap tides, when the Moon and Sun's tidal force vectors make a right angle at the Earth, the difference between high and low tides is smaller. Neap tides occur during the firsts and lasts quarter moon phases.



The typical tidal range in the open ocean is about 0.6 meters (2 feet). As you get closer to the coast, however, this range gets much greater. Coastal tidal ranges vary globally and can differ anywhere from 1.8 meters to 3 meters (6–10 feet). The world's biggest tidal differential occurs in the Bay of Fundy in Eastern Canada, where the sea level changes by up to 17 meters (55 feet) during the day. Ungava Bay in Northern Quebec, north eastern Canada, is believed by some experts to have higher tidal ranges than the Bay of Fundy (about 17 metres or 56 ft), but it is free of pack ice for only about four months every year, whereas the Bay of Fundy rarely freezes. What is generally regarded as the next highest tidal range occurs in the Bristol Channel in the UK, where sea levels change by some 15 meters (49 feet). The smallest tidal ranges occur in the Mediterranean, Baltic, and Caribbean Seas. A point within a tidal system where the tidal range is almost zero is called an amphidromic point.


The tidal range has been classified[1] in:

  • Micromareal, when the tidal range is lower than 2 meters.
  • Mesomareal, when the tidal range is between 2 meters and 4 meters.
  • Macromareal, when the tidal range is higher than 4 meters.

See also


  1. ^ Masselink, G.; Short, A. D. (1993). "The effect of tidal range on beach morphodynamics and morphology: a conceptual beach model". Journal of Coastal Research 9 (3): 785–800. ISSN 0749-0208.  


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