Coastlines are areas that are washed by oceans or seas. They form beautiful beaches that are used for relaxation by many people. These coastlines are impacted by tides, currents, and waves. Tide denotes rising or falling of ocean level at different times of the day due to the gravitational pull of the Moon. The highest tide in the world is in the Bay of Fundy in Canada. They can reach the heights up to 20 m. Tides are low or high and the difference in the two is called tidal range. The next phenomenon is a current which is the movement of a large water mass in one direction. They are categorized as cold or warm depending on their origin. Warm currents originate from the tropics while cold ones come from the poles. This phenomenon is caused by overall global wind pattern, Earth’s rotation, and the shape of ocean basins in the world. Waves move water and energy by licking it into crested shape. They are usually caused by wind. The size of a wave is determined by the speed of the wind, the distance the wind has traveled and the time the wind has blown (OP, 2013). This paper deals with the influence of tides, currents, and waves on coastlines.
Effects of Tides, Waves, and Currents on Coastlines
Tides have good as well as bad effects on the coastline. When tides come they bring with them nutrients for the ocean and sea organisms, moderate temperatures but, what is more fundamental, are able to influence conditions in many ecosystems. Today, most coastal cities are unable to deal with the surging high tides that affect the building and other solid coastal structures. Due to this, waves are unable to dissipate energy on the land and, therefore, are forced to deflect it on the other coastal areas along the shore. Tides are able to erode and transport sediments. As a result, they are circulating in local inlets and estuaries and thereby minimizing floods. Deposition of sediments leads to clean coastlines (OP, 2013).
Tides cause draining and filling of bays that enables the exchange of seawater in these areas. This process is essential to the life cycle of many marine species. Tides help coral reefs to survive as they enable them to maintain a certain level of water in shallow parts of the ocean. Tides and currents have a direct impact on the ecosystems in the world. Many coastlines support different ecosystems and, therefore, these ecosystems face a number of effects as they are habitats to many organisms. Estuaries are the kind of ecological systems that support many species with their food, nests, and grounds for mating and breeding. One of the species is the blue crab that is found in the western edge of the Atlantic Ocean, from Nova Scotia to Argentina. These animals depend on the tides and wind-blown surface currents to go back to the brackish water for breeding (NOAA, 2013).
Tides impact on the coastline in the intertidal zone where organisms face environmental extremes: too much water and too dry ground in high tidal time and in low tidal time respectively. These processes may lead to the death of such animals like starfish. When the tide is low, these organisms remain exposed as they lack good support in the cliffy rocks where they live.
Again tides, waves, and currents continue to impact on the society around the coastline in a number of ways. Good and high tidal zones have enabled the construction of harbors, and ports for transportation of goods and manufactured products. Tides, waves, and currents are a big challenge to navigation along the coastline (NOAA, 2013).
Some surface currents entail a number of shipwrecks posing serious difficulty to the coastline community. Tides provide an enabling marine environment that supports the growth of coral reefs, which coastline communities preserve. Florida coastline boasts of the third-largest coral reefs in the world. These reefs support over 500 species of fish and numerous flora species. They owe their existence to the local currents that transport food, disperse coral lava and create ideal water clarity and productivity. The community protects one of the 13 marine underwater havens of the United States National Marine Sanctuary Program (NOAA, 2012)
There is no doubt that waves provide the best sporting experience in the world for surfers along the Florida coastline. Highly large waves are good for water surfing along the beaches in this area. Tides create good beaches that are perfect for relaxation. They dot on many coastlines in the world.
Climate change influences how organisms thrive in different areas in the world. As environmental conditions change, the organisms along coastlines will be affected due to global warming. This process has resulted in rising of the levels which caused the rising tides, tidal surges, and ocean currents. This is bound to change of shorelines and therefore make tides more dangerous to the shoreline communities. Climate change has affected currents and tides as exemplified by the slowing of thermohaline circulation during the last ice age that led to the accumulation of ice in North Atlantic and disruption of ocean currents. This impacted heavily on the land underwater and led to the exposure of the continental shelf. Much of air was polluted due to wind erosion and this had an impact on the coastlines as they shrunk further (NOAA, 2012).
It is indeed factual that the waves, currents, and tides have positive impacts not only on the coastline but on many areas in the life of numerous organisms.