EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Global mapping of seasonal variations in tides from tide gauge and satellite altimeter data

Inger Bij de Vaate1, Henrique Guarneri2, Cornelis Slobbe1, and Martin Verlaan2,3
Inger Bij de Vaate et al.
  • 1Civil Engineering and Geosciences, Technical University of Delft, Netherlands
  • 2Delft Institute of Applied Mathematics, Technical University of Delft, Netherlands
  • 3Deltares, Delft, Netherlands

The existence of seasonal variations in major tides has been recognized since decades. Where Corkan (1934) was the first to describe the seasonal perturbation of the M2 tide, many others have studied seasonal variations in the main tidal constituents since. However, most of these studies are based on sea level observations from tide gauges and are often restricted to coastal and shelf regions. Hence, observed seasonal variations are typically dominated by local processes and the large-scale patterns cannot be clearly distinguished. Moreover, most tide models still perceive tides as annually constant and seasonal variation in tides is ignored in the correction process of satellite altimetry. This results in reduced accuracy of obtained sea level anomalies.

To gain more insight in the large-scale seasonal variations in tides, we supplemented the clustered and sparsely distributed sea level observations from tide gauges by the wealth of data from satellite altimeters. Although altimeter-derived water levels are being widely used to obtain tidal constants, only few of these implementations consider seasonal variation in tides. For that reason, we have set out to explore the opportunities provided by altimeter data for deriving seasonal modulation of the main tidal constituents. Different methods were implemented and compared for the principal tidal constituents and a range of geographical domains, using data from a selection of satellite altimeters. Specific attention was paid to the Arctic region where seasonal variation in tides was expected to be significant as a result of the seasonal sea ice cycle, yet data availability is particularly limited. Our study demonstrates the potential of satellite altimetry for the quantification of seasonal modulation of tides and suggests the seasonal modulation to be considerable. Already for M2 we observed changes in tidal amplitude of the order of decimeters for the Arctic region, and centimeters for lower latitude regions.


Corkan, R. H. (1934). An annual perturbation in the range of tide. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series A, Containing Papers of a Mathematical and Physical Character, 144(853), 537-559.

How to cite: Bij de Vaate, I., Guarneri, H., Slobbe, C., and Verlaan, M.: Global mapping of seasonal variations in tides from tide gauge and satellite altimeter data, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-10717,, 2021.


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