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An Analysis of Secular Change in Tides at Open-Ocean Sites in the Pacific

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  • 1 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon
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Abstract

Hourly sea level is examined at 25 open-ocean stations in the Pacific Ocean with records longer than 30 yr. A search for trends finds that the amplitude of the dominant semidiurnal tide M2 is increasing at 12 of the 13 sites where a statistically significant trend can be identified. It is also found that nontidal variance in the neighborhood of M2 is decreasing at all 12 of the sites where a significant increase in M2 tide is occurring. The trend in amplitude of the dominant diurnal tide K1 is significant at six stations, and it is both increasing (four stations) and decreasing (two stations). The trend in semidiurnal-band variance suggests the hypothesis that increases in M2 could be caused by improvements in time keeping or data processing that would reduce the apparent phase variability of the tide. This possibility is examined and found to be the likely explanation for tidal trends at four stations. Local changes are found to explain the trend at two stations, Johnston Island and Mokuoloe, as diagnosed from correlated changes in nonlinear overtides and site history. Changes in M2 at the equatorial station of Kanton are significant and unexplained by either timing errors or local morphodynamics; although, strong nonlinear overtides are present. Changing tides at five stations in the western Pacific, Malakal, Yap, Saipan, Kapingamarangi, and Pohnpei cannot be explained by the above and suggest a region where a connection between climate and tides may yet be identified.

Corresponding author address: Edward D. Zaron, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207. E-mail: ezaron@pdx.edu

Abstract

Hourly sea level is examined at 25 open-ocean stations in the Pacific Ocean with records longer than 30 yr. A search for trends finds that the amplitude of the dominant semidiurnal tide M2 is increasing at 12 of the 13 sites where a statistically significant trend can be identified. It is also found that nontidal variance in the neighborhood of M2 is decreasing at all 12 of the sites where a significant increase in M2 tide is occurring. The trend in amplitude of the dominant diurnal tide K1 is significant at six stations, and it is both increasing (four stations) and decreasing (two stations). The trend in semidiurnal-band variance suggests the hypothesis that increases in M2 could be caused by improvements in time keeping or data processing that would reduce the apparent phase variability of the tide. This possibility is examined and found to be the likely explanation for tidal trends at four stations. Local changes are found to explain the trend at two stations, Johnston Island and Mokuoloe, as diagnosed from correlated changes in nonlinear overtides and site history. Changes in M2 at the equatorial station of Kanton are significant and unexplained by either timing errors or local morphodynamics; although, strong nonlinear overtides are present. Changing tides at five stations in the western Pacific, Malakal, Yap, Saipan, Kapingamarangi, and Pohnpei cannot be explained by the above and suggest a region where a connection between climate and tides may yet be identified.

Corresponding author address: Edward D. Zaron, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University, P.O. Box 751, Portland, OR 97207. E-mail: ezaron@pdx.edu
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