Tides and the Climate: Some Speculations

  • Munk W
  • Bills B
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The important role of tides in the mixing of the pelagic oceans has been established by recent experiments and analyses. The tide potential is modulated by long-period orbital modulations. Previously, Loder and Garrett found evidence for the 18.6-yr lunar nodal cycle in the sea surface temperatures of shallow seas. In this paper, the possible role of the 41 000-yr variation of the obliquity of the ecliptic is considered. The obliquity modulation of tidal mixing by a few percent and the associated modulation in the meridional overturning circulation (MOC) may play a role comparable to the obliquity modulation of the incoming solar radiation (insolation), a cornerstone of the Milanković theory of ice ages. This speculation involves even more than the usual number of uncertainties found in climate speculations.

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  • Walter Munk

  • Bruce Bills

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