USF researchers find wider swings in tidal levels in last century in the Gulf of Mexico

High tides getting higher, low tides getting lower

TAMPA - Research out of the University of South Florida has produced some worrisome findings for anyone living near the water. In Florida- that's most of us.

High tides, especially during hurricane season are getting higher.

The  research was done by a team that included USF Marine Scientist Professor Mark Luther that examined  high and low tide measurements all along the Gulf that had been recorded over or the past hundred years. The results are clear.

"They've gotten higher in the summers and lower in the winters by a significant amount" says Luther.

The research shows that while the average sea level over the last century as risen steadily but modestly, the amplitude or the swings between high and low tide have increased by much more.   So much so that researchers  estimate the risk of hurricane caused flooding  has almost doubled.

"It all depends on when the storm hits. If the storm hits at high tide you got a much bigger problem than if it hits at low tide. Even just a few millimeters increase in water levels means a lot more properties get flooded" says Luther.

This research is bound to get the attention of policy makers in Tallahassee trying to tame out of control flood insurance rates.   They won't be happy to learn one other finding from this research.  This increased volatility is far more pronounced in the Eastern Gulf than the Western Gulf.
"This seasonal swing was almost nonexistent in the Texas Coast and was large, on the order of many centimeters off the Florida Coast" said Luther.

Print this article Back to Top