Why are there no ocean tides at the equator?
Tides are a very complex phenomenon. For any particular location, their height and fluctuation in time depends to varying degrees on the location of the Sun and the Moon, and to the details of the shape of the beach, coastline, coastline depth and prevailing ocean currents.
The tidal bulge of the Moon follows along the path on the earth's surface which intersects with the orbital plane of the Moon. This plane is tilted about 23 degrees with respect to the equatorial plane of the earth. The result is that near the equator, the difference between high tide and low tide is actually rather small, compared to other latitudes. To see this, draw a circle inscribed in an ellipse, with the major axis of the ellipse rotated by 23 degrees with respect to the circle's horizontal diameter. Now measure the height of the elliptical contour just above the 'equator' of the circle. You will see that it is quite small compared to other positions on earth, particularly at latitudes of 23 degrees or so. Even larger differences can occur depending on the shape of a bay or inlet or continental shelf.
Copyright 1997 Dr. Sten Odenwald
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