Christchurch Tides

Did you know that Christchurch benefits from an unusual double high tide? Or wondered why? Between September 2014 and March 2015 Jan Peters has led the Time and Tide project exploring the tides and environment in Christchurch with young people, scientists and engineers and storyteller, Martin Maudsley.

The science behind the tides is complicated. The effects of our high latitude and the rotation of the earth, friction and inertia (the reluctance of an object to move) all affect the motion of water as the moon and sun pass over and around us. We’ve used storytelling to help share the reasons why we have a stranger tide than most.

Here in Christchurch we can’t fail to notice the daily changes to our local environment and how different the harbour or beach can look at different times of the day. While many know there is a strong link between the tides and the moon on a monthly cycle few realise the strong impact of the sun on tidal height and how this can change over the course of the year. And another curious thing some may have wondered about is how come the tidal range at Portland and Portsmouth is 5m, while at the harbour wall at Mudeford Quay it is only 2m.

Dr Ivan Haigh, a tidal expert from the University of Southampton, described the reasons at an event at Highcliffe Sailing club as the combined effects of water sloshing across the Atlantic (a bit like in your bath) and spinning round because of the rotation of the Earth; this causes the water to slosh around a point which in fact is inland. When the tide ‘comes in’ water travels up along the coast but can’t navigate the corner into the North Sea and is reflected back down the coast. Dr Haigh says categorically, the tide has nothing to do with the Isle of Wight, debunking a commonly held local myth.

The project funding was provided by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills' Community Challenge Grant Scheme.

Find out more:
The Time and Tide project has been developed and delivered by Katalytik

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