Abstract

The 18.6-yr cycle of the Moon's nodes dominates the annual means of high water, low water, and range at Boston and at other East Coast harbors. The maxima and minima of the high-water and range curves agree closely with the 180° and 0° long. yr, respectively, of the Moon's ascending node, and are fairly well accounted for by tide-prediction equations. The curve of annual mean sea level also reflects the cycle, but more weakly. Recognition of the cyclical nature of tidal data both simplifies and clarifies assessments of longer term sea-level trends and points to the need to include only multiples of entire cycles in the computations of these trends. When the curves of mean high water and range are used, it is possible to recognize long-term sea-level trends rapidly and to determine whether these are attributable to tidal or nontidal causes. The data suggest that the secular sea-level rise during the 20th century is tidal in origin and may be caused by vertical movement of the oceanic floor. This has the effect of reducing the volume of ocean basins, and, by changing basin geometry, alters the characteristics of terrestrial tidal constituents (standing waves).

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