Detailed prediction of ocean tides from theories of classical mechanics and hydrodynamics has not been entirely successful, largely because of complications introduced by the irregular shape of the ocean basins and coastlines. Useful results are obtained empirically by analyzing records of previous tides at a particular location to predict future tides. The importance of tides for maritime activities has prompted the compilation of tide tables for harbors, which give the time and height of high water and low water based on past observations and corrected for the varying positions of celestial bodies.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.