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

Assessment of tidal range changes in the North Sea from 1958 to 2014

Leon Jänicke1, Andra Ebener2, Sönke Dangendorf3, Arne Arns4, Michael Schindelegger5, Sebastian Niehüser5, Ivan D. Haigh6, Philip Woodworth7, and Jürgen Jensen1
Leon Jänicke et al.
  • 1University of Siegen, Research Institute for Water and Environment, Civil Engineering, Siegen, Germany
  • 2University of Siegen, Institut für Geotechnik , Civil Engineering, Siegen, Germany
  • 3Centre for Coastal Physical Oceanography, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, United States of America
  • 4Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Rostock, Rostock, Germany
  • 5Institute of Geodesy and Geoinformation (IGG), University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  • 6School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
  • 7National Oceanography Centre, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Tide gauges throughout the North Sea basin show significant changes in the local tidal regime since the mid-20th century, especially in the German Bight area. These changes were analyzed within the DFG-funded project TIDEDYN (Analyzing long term changes in the tidal dynamics of the North Sea, project number 290112166) and the final results were recently published in Jänicke et al. (2020,

In this paper, we document an exceptional large-spatial scale case of changes in tidal range in the North Sea, featuring pronounced trends between -2.3 mm/yr at tide gauges in the UK and up to 7 mm/yr in the German Bight between 1958 and 2014. These changes are spatially heterogeneous and driven by a superposition of local and large-scale processes within the basin. We use principal component analysis to separate large-scale signals appearing coherently over multiple stations from rather localized changes. We identify two leading principal components (PCs) that explain about 69% of tidal range changes in the entire North Sea including the divergent trend pattern along UK and German coastlines that reflects movement of the region’s semidiurnal amphidromic areas. By applying numerical and statistical analyses, we can assign a baroclinic (PC1) and a barotropic large-scale signal (PC2), explaining a large part of the overall variance. A comparison between PC2 and tide gauge records along the European Atlantic coast, Iceland and Canada shows significant correlations on time scales of less than 2 years, which points to an external and basin-wide forcing mechanism. By contrast, PC1 dominates in the southern North Sea and originates, at least in part, from stratification changes in nearby shallow waters. In particular, from an analysis of observed density profiles, we suggest that an increased strength and duration of the summer pycnocline has stabilized the water column against turbulent dissipation and allowed for higher tidal elevations at the coast.

We would like to present these research results and the content of the paper (cf. Jänicke et al., 2020) at vEGU21, hoping to encourage subsequent questions and further discussions.

How to cite: Jänicke, L., Ebener, A., Dangendorf, S., Arns, A., Schindelegger, M., Niehüser, S., Haigh, I. D., Woodworth, P., and Jensen, J.: Assessment of tidal range changes in the North Sea from 1958 to 2014, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14706,, 2021.


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