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Ocean Tides around Antarctica and in the Southern Ocean

The ocean tide is a large component of total variability of ocean surface height and currents in the seas surrounding Antarctica, including under the floating ice shelves. Maximum tidal height range exceeds 7 m (near the grounding line of Rutford Ice Stream) and maximum tidal currents exceed 1 m/s (near the shelf break in the northwest Ross Sea). Tides contribute to several important climate and ecosystems processes including: ocean mixing, production of dense bottom water, flow of warm Circumpolar Deep Water onto the continental shelves, melting at the bases of ice shelves, fracturing of the ice sheet near a glacier or ice stream’s grounding line, production and decay of sea ice, and sediment resuspension. Tide heights and, in particular, currents can change as the ocean background state changes, and as the geometry of the coastal margins of the Antarctic Ice Sheet varies through ice shelf thickness changes and ice-front and grounding-line advances or retreats. For satellite-based studies of ocean surface height and ice shelf thickness changes, tide heights are a source of substantial noise that must be removed. Similarly, tidal currents can also be a substantial noise signal when trying to estimate mean ocean currents from short-term measurements such as from acoustic Doppler current profilers mounted on ships and CTD rosettes. Therefore, tide models play critical roles in understanding current and future ocean and ice states, and as a method for removing tides in various measurements. A paper in Reviews of Geophysics (Padman, Siegfried and Fricker, 2018, see list of project-related publications below) provides a detailed review of tides and tidal processes around Antarctica. This project provides a gateway to tide models and a database of tide height coefficients at the Antarctic Data Center, and links to toolboxes to work with these models and data.

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