Tide waves travel along coastlines, bringing high and low tide every six hours.

The peaks and troughs of tide waves are shaped by the gravitational forces from our moon and sun, then set in motion by the earth spinning on its axis. This is what make the sea level rise and fall every six hours; when a peak passes we get high tide and six hours later a trough brings low tide. The reason the cycle repeats itself over and over again is because tide waves travel in circles around oceans basins, generally in an anti-clockwise direction in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. 

" when a peak passes we get high tide and six hours later a trough brings low tide "

The speed of a tide wave depends on the depth. In deep oceanic waters, they travel around 1,000km/h, but in shallow coastal waters this slows down to around 100km/h (this is the speed of energy, not water particles). To find out the direction and speed of the tide wave along your coast, check the time of high tide for locations either side of you. The one that experiences high tide first is the direction the wave is coming from. And by dividing the time difference between high tides by the distance between your two locations, you can calculate its speed.

When the peak of a tide wave passes we get high tide, and six hours later a trough comes with low tide. In shallow coastal waters, the wave travels around 100km/h and there are generally around 600km between peaks and troughs, which is why the time between high and low tide is 6 hours. Ask a Question


  • Tide waves travel around deep ocean basins at 1,000km/h 


  • There is usually a 6-hour period between peaks and troughs of a tide wave


  • Tide waves travel will always travel the same direction along your coast


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Write to: Tidal Compass Limited, Coast House, 32 The Beach, Deal, Kent, UK, CT14 7HN


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