Why does the Earth have tides?

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As we visit the beach, we can frequently hear locals talk about “high” and “low” tides and how that effects different beach activities and even the best place to lounge and get a sun tan. Unless we reside in a city with a local beach, knowing what tides are and why they happen is something that may not be common knowledge. When you spend your day building an elaborate sand castle, and then find it demolished the next day by waves, there’s a reason for that.

The rise and fall of the ocean level the true definition of a tide. Tides are caused by gravitational force from the moon, sun and the rotation of the Earth. When the moon is overhead directly, its gravitational force exerts the water on the ocean causing it to experience high tides. The gravitational attraction of the sun and the moon both work together and in opposition to make tides occur. Essentially, there is a bulge of water that stays on the part of the earth closest to the sun, and a bulge that stays on the part of the earth closest to the moon. As these bulges move, they create tides. As the moon is more visible, the tide is higher.

There are two different types of tides that describe different strengths of a particular tide. Spring tides are the strongest tides, and have nothing to do with the season of Spring. These spring tides happen when the earth, the sun, and the moon are all in a line. Spring tides occur when there is either a full moon or a new moon. The Proxigean Spring Tide is a rare, unusually high tide when the moon is unusually close to the earth and in the new moon phase. This high tide only occurs every one and a half years. Neap tides are very week tides that occur when the forces of the sun and the moon are perpendicular to each other, in respect to the earth. These tides usually happen during quarter moons.
Feature photo credit: esther** via photopin cc

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