No escaping gravity: Why you should care about King Tides

This weekend Auckland will experience a King Tide — an unusually high tide that arises from the combination of gravitational factors.

All tides depend on changes in the moon’s gravitational pull as the moon revolves around the Earth. The sun also plays a role, so during a full moon or a new moon, when the sun and moon are lined up, higher than normal tides called “spring tides” occur. When a spring tide occurs while the moon is at its closest to the Earth, the extra strong gravitational pull results in a very high tide called a “king tide”.

This weekend’s king tide is expected to peak on Saturday morning, at 10:05 a.m. on the east coast and 12:12 p.m. on the west coast.

A king tide also occurred in February last year, and I headed down to my local beach with my camera to check it out. Plenty of people were had already enjoying the beautiful summer’s day at the beach, but there was precious little space for them to set up on the sand. In fact, I could only find about 1 square metre of sand on the entire beach that hadn’t been drenched by the incoming waves. One enterprising woman had built a moat and wall to protect her towel from the oncoming water.

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Plastic Beaches, Plastic Oceans

Several weeks ago I participated in Sustainable Coastline’s North Shore Clean-up, helping to pick up rubbish off North Shore beaches. This was my second year doing the clean-up, and both times it has really highlighted for me the trouble with all the disposable packaging we use, as well as our careless attitudes towards littering in city streets.

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