Changing Tides Changed Our Planet

With a few more weeks of summer left, you may be getting in that last trip to the beach. Everyone is familiar with the ebb and flow of the oceans as they are pulled by gravity affected by the position of the earth, sun, and moon. It’s good to know when high tide and low tide occur, so you can be sure to put your beach chair and umbrella in a dry spot!

There’s interesting new research on tides that shows that changes in the tides may have changed the history of the earth in our planet’s past. The research suggests that weak tides may have contributed to the formation of glaciers in the past, when the Earth’s land was concentrated in one supercontinent. And today, the larger tides lift the ice around the Antarctic and in Greenland and bring warm water which melts the ice on the underside.

Tides may even have played a role in evolution. When the highest tides, known as “spring tides”, occur, they often leave tidal pools disconnected from the ocean. Fish left in those pools may have eventually adapted to have fleshy limbs to help them get back to the ocean. Researchers have found that in bays with very high tidal responses, the fossil records reflect a large variety of transitional fish species. – Beth Sciaudone, Civil Water Resources & Environmental Instructor

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