Long-term equilibrium tides

J. A. Shaffer, Randall Cerveny

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Extreme equilibrium tides, or 'hypertides,' are computed in a new equilibrium tidal model combining algorithms of a version of the Chapront ELP-2000/82 Lunar Theory with the BER78 Milankovitch astronomical expansions. For the recent past, a high correspondence exists between computed semidiurnal tide levels and a record of coastal flooding demonstrating that astronomical alignment is a potential influence on such flooding. For the Holocene and near future, maximum tides demonstrate cyclic variations with peaks at near 5000 B.P. and 4000 A.P. On the late Quaternary timescale, variations in maximum equilibrium tide level display oscillations with periods of approximately 10,000, 100,000 and 400,000 years, because of precessional shifts in tidal maxima between vernal and autumnal equinoxes. While flooding occurs under the combined effects of tides and storms via 'storm surges,' the most extensive flooding will occur with the coincidence of storms and the rarer hypertides and is thus primarily influenced by hypertides. Therefore we suggest that astronomical alignment's relationship to coastal flooding is probabilistic rather than deterministic. Data derived from this model are applicable to (1) archaeological and paleoclimatic coastal reconstructions, (2) long-term planning, for example, radioactive waste site selection, (3) sealevel change and paleoestuarine studies or (4) ocean-meteorological interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18,801-18,807
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue numberC9
StatePublished - Aug 15 1998


  • Equilibrium
  • Flood
  • Tidal cycle
  • Tidal modeling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Oceanography


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