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The Equilibrium Theory of Tides This is sometimes called the theory of static tides, a theory that emerged

for the first time in Isaac Newtons famed Principia. Having identified the tide-producing forces, Newton, and
others who followed him, conceived of a hypothetical global ocean in static equilibrium with these forces an
equilibrium calling for a prolate spheroid of water covering the earth. Prolate means that the sphere in question
has been stretched along a line joining two poles; not the geographic poles in this case but the poles in line with
the celestial body (moon or sun) causing the hypothetical ocean sphere to deform. Taking another look at the
graphic illustrating the tractive forces in the previous module, one can easily imagine water converging on these
poles to produce twin tidal bulges terms that are still very popular in modern day textbooks.

The reason for the popularity of the equilibrium

theory - the tidal bulges concept at least is that its easy to explain certain well-known tidal phenomena with
pictures. In the one on the left below, an imaginary observer named Joe rotates with the earth and encounters the
static bulges in the form of high tides. Whenever the moon crosses Joes local meridian, he witnesses high tide. Its
high tide again twelve lunar hours later when the moon crosses the opposite meridian on the other side of the
earth. Two highs and two lows occur in one lunar day lasting 24 hours and 50 minutes in watch (solar) time. In the
figure on the right, the moon has progressed in its orbit around the earth to a position north of the equator (north

declination). The static bulges move to remain in line with the moon and now Joe encounters a diurnal inequality
in the high tides (successive high tides of unequal height). Maximum lunar declination, north or south of the
equator, produces tropic tides; tides occurring when the moon is on the equator are called equatorial tides. Tropicequatorial tides recur twice in an interval of 27 1/3 days the tropic month covering one complete cycle in lunar
declination. All these observations are consistent with equilibrium theory.

Another phenomenon thats easy to demonstrate in this way is the well-known spring-neap cycle. Solar gravity
also produces a pair of tidal bulges in the hypothetical ocean. When the tractive forces of the sun and moon are in
line, spring tides of greater range (higher highs and lower lows) result as shown in the figure on the left below. As
in the previous figures, when the moon completes another half-cycle in its orbit this time from full to new moon
- spring tides will occur again.
The figure below on the right illustrates the neap portion of the spring-neap cycle; i.e., when the moon is in the
first quarter (or the third quarter) of that cycle, lunar and solar tractive forces are completely out-of-line, tending to
counteract one another, and neap tides of lesser range (lower highs and higher lows) result. Two spring-neap cycles
(two springs and two neaps) are completed in 29 days, the same period of time required for the moon to
complete one full orbit of earth with respect to the sun.
Other aspects of the observed tide in accordance with equilibrium theory include the perigean-apogean cycle. This
one stems from the fact that the moons orbit around the earth describes an ellipse rather than a circle. Perigean
tides of greater range occur at lunar perigee, when the moon is closest to the earth, and apogean tides of lesser
range occur at lunar apogee, when the moon is farthest from the earth in its elliptical orbit. The perigean-apogean
cycle takes about 27 days to complete.

Although the equilibrium theory does an excellent job of explaining cyclical tidal phenomena and the recurrence
periods associated with many of them, its an example of a model of ideal behavior something that works for the
purpose intended although it may not adhere to the truth in all instances. We dont have far to look for those
instances. The earth is only partially covered by its waters, land masses prevent anything resembling a bulge from
traveling completely around it, and observations of real tides show that they do not respond instantly to the tideproducing forces of the moon and sun as the theory requires.


Calculating tidal accelerations on Earth due to other solar system planets, and then on Europa
due to Jupiter for comparison.

Following the material in section 2.3.3 of Lowrie's Fundamentals of Geophysics (highly recommended undergrad
or intro graduate geophysics textbook), we can calculate the tidal accelerations on the Earth due to various other
bodies in the solar system and compare them in a Matlab script called tidalaccel.m for the purpose. How strong are
the pulls of other planets compared to that of the Sun or Moon? Will the other planets have any noticeable effect
on Earth's tides? Then we can also calculate the tidal acceleration on Europa due to Jupiter and compare that to the
Earth ones to get a feel for the stresses seen in Europa's cracking ice.

The figure demonstrates the tidal bulge of the Earth due to the combination of the Moon's direct gravitational pull
and the centrifugal force in the Earth's and Moon's revolution about their center of mass (which happens to be
inside the Earth, but not at its center). Earth's rotation on its axis is ignored here - when the Earth rotates under this
bulge we see the twice-daily tidal maxima as points on the Earth surface rotate under the bulges, but here we will
only calculate and compare the tidal acceleration causing the bulge itself. If we neglect the Earth's rotation, then as
the Earth revolves about the Earth/Moon center of mass, all points in the Earth circumscribe the same size circle.
This means that all points in the Earth experience the same centrifugal acceleration from this revolution. In this
scenario, at any given time in the revolution the centrifugal acceleration leads away from the Moon while the
Moon's gravitational attraction pulls toward the Moon, as we see in the figure. Since the strength of the
gravitational acceleration from the Moon's attraction is distance dependent (falls off as 1/r2), it doesn't balance
equally with the centrifugal acceleration everywhere; the difference between the two gives the tidal acceleration.
At the center of the Earth (point C) the two are equal and there is no residual tidal acceleration. On the Earth's
surface closer to the Moon (point B) the gravitational attraction is stronger so the tidal acceleration points toward
the Moon. On the far surface (point A), the gravitational acceleration is much less so the tidal acceleration points
away from the Moon. If one considers the Earth's rotation on its axis in this scenario after all, one finds subtleties
like the bulge not pointing exactly toward and away from the Moon, leading to higher order (smaller) effects, but
again, let us ignore that and just compare the main accelerations here.
Adding Newton's gravitation equation to the above leads to the following equations for the tidal acceleration at
points A & B on the surface of the Earth caused by the Moon, or any other remote body for that matter (Lowrie's
equations 2.28 & 2.30).
Tidal acceleration at point A (eqn 2.30):

Tidal acceleration at point B (eqn 2.28):

In these equations, aT is the tidal acceleration, G is the gravitational constant, m is the mass of the remote body
tugging on the Earth, R is the radius of the Earth, and rL is the separation between the Earth and the body. These
accelerations at A and B are very close to each other, and in fact Lowrie shows they are equal to first order. In any
case, what we really find when calculating these accelerations due to various solar system bodies is the wide range
in order of magnitude of the accelerations. The farther an object is away, the very much less effect it has, because
the tidal acceleration to first order falls off as 1/r3.
This doesn't have to be just for the Earth and Moon, we can stick anything in there. So let's run this Matlab script
which implements these equations on different bodies in the solar system. First we compute the tidal accelerations
on Earth from the Sun, Moon, and other planets. Then we compute the tidal acceleration on Europa from Jupiter.

Tidal accels (m/s^2) at pts A & B on Earth due to solar system bodies.
---------------------------------------------------------------------due to
a_T at A

Tidal accel (m/s^2) at pts A & B on Europa due to Jupiter.

---------------------------------------------------------due to
a_T at A

a_T at B

a_T at B

We see that the tidal pull from the Moon is the strongest, followed by the Sun which has half the effect of the
Moon - it's very much larger than the Moon but farther away, and tidal acceleration falls off strongly with distance.
The rest of the planets' effects are infinitesimal in comparison; note the next strongest effect after the Sun's is the
tidal acceleration due to Venus, which is 10000 times smaller.
In contrast, notice that the tides on Europa are 1000 times stronger than those here on Earth, since Jupiter is both
very massive and very close to Europa. (Those on Io are even stronger.) That's a lot of energy being pumped into
Europa via tides!
Again, the Matlab script for this is available here.