A Beginner’s Guide to Spring Tides: Everything You Need to Know About Spring Tides


Do you live near a coast or plan to visit one soon? If yes, you must have heard of the term ‘spring tide’ being mentioned frequently. Understanding what a spring tide is and how it works becomes essential if you hope to deal with the effects of these high tides. This article aims to provide an in-depth beginner’s guide to spring tides and their impact on oceanic and coastal ecosystems.

A Beginner’s Guide to Spring Tides: Everything You Need to Know

A spring tide refers to the tide when the sun, earth, and moon align, creating a gravitational force that drags the ocean’s water. This situation leads to an elevation of the water level and results in a high tide. Spring tides occur twice every month, during the full and new moon phases.

The causes of spring tides result from the gravitational pull of the moon on the earth. The influence of the gravitational force results in the ocean’s water bulging towards the moon, causing the high tide.

It’s important to note that spring tides are not caused by the spring season, which is a common misconception. Spring refers to the idea of the moon’s gravitational pull springing up an effect of high and low tides.

Spring tides occur twice a month. They appear during the new and full moon days. The full moon creates the highest high tide, while the new moon creates the lowest low tide. Spring tides shift the water level from low to high and vice versa over six hours. The cycle then repeats after every twelve hours and 24 minutes.

You can predict spring tides by looking at lunar phase calendars or tide tables. There are online resources that can help you determine when the next spring tide will occur in your region.

Spring Tides: How They Impact the Ocean and Coastal Ecosystems

Spring tides impact ocean currents, marine life, and ecosystems. When the tide is high, the water level rises, causing the ocean’s currents to become stronger and faster. This change in the ocean current can affect fish migration, seaweed, and other aquatic life.

Spring tides can also cause flooding and erosion of coastal regions. As the water level rises, the waves’ height can increase, damaging the coastline vegetation, infrastructure, and properties. For vulnerable areas, such as low-lying regions, spring tides can cause significant damage and disrupt settlements on the coast.

Exploring the Science Behind Spring Tides and How They Differ from Neap Tides

The gravitational forces between the sun, earth, and the moon influence spring tides. The moon’s gravity creates a bulge in the ocean water nearest to the moon. At the same time, the gravitational force from the earth can create a bulge on the opposite side of the earth away from the moon. This creation leads to two high tides and two low tides occurring every 24 hours.

The neap tides differ from spring tides in that they occur during the quarter moons. These are the moons that fall halfway between the new and full moons. At this time, the sun and moon are perpendicular, creating weak gravitational forces. As a result, the ocean’s water bulge is relatively small, causing a milder tide.

The illustration below shows the differences between spring tides and neap tides:

Spring and Neap tides diagram

The Role of Gravitational Force in Creating Spring Tides: A Fascinating Insight

The gravitational force between the Earth and Moon plays a role in creating spring tides. The gravitational forces between them exert force on the ocean water closest to the moon and the earth. This gravitational force causes the ocean’s water level to rise by up to fifty-five centimeters.

It’s fascinating to note that the sun also plays a role in creating spring tides. The sun is much further away from the Earth than the moon. Its gravitational force is weaker, but it’s still strong enough to play a role in the large bulges created by spring tides.

A Historical Perspective on Spring Tides: How Our Ancestors Viewed These Natural Occurrences

Spring tides have fascinated humans for centuries due to their effects on the ocean and coastal ecosystem. Our ancestors viewed these natural phenomena with reverence and awe. Ancient Chinese folklore tells stories of a giant carp that could swim up the Yellow River during spring tides. Meanwhile, the ancient Greeks believed that the tide was a result of Poseidon, the god of the sea, shaking his trident.

Historically, spring tides played a significant role in some of history’s key events. The successful landing of the Allied forces’ troops in Normandy during World War II was in part due to the tide conditions. The full moon led to a high tide, which allowed the ships to approach the Normandy beaches without hitting undersea obstacles.

Spring Tides and the Art of Surfing: How Surfers Take Advantage of the High Tides to Catch the Best Waves

Spring tides have a significant impact on surfing conditions, leading to bigger and more powerful waves. Surfers prepare for spring tides by studying lunar phase calendars and tide tables before planning their surf sessions.

One of the world’s most famous surfing locations, the Banzai Pipeline, is heavily influenced by spring tides. These high tides make it possible for surfers to catch the massive waves they seek. Other famous surfing locations impacted by spring tides include Waimea Bay, Mavericks, and Teahupoo.


Spring tides are a natural phenomenon that affects us all, whether we live near the coast or not. Understanding what they are and how they work enables us to prepare for their impact. By learning about the science behind spring tides and how they differ from neap tides, we can appreciate the forces at work in creating them. Whether it’s predicting the next high tide using lunar phase tables or planning the next surf session, knowledge of spring tides comes in handy.

For further reading, check out tide tables specific to your region or look up lunar phase calendars online. By understanding and appreciating the role of spring tides, we can better engage with and protect our coastal environment.

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