Tide prediction machines at the Liverpool Tidal Institute

Woodworth, Philip L.. 2020 Tide prediction machines at the Liverpool Tidal Institute. History of Geo- and Space Sciences, 11 (1). 15-29.

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The 100th anniversary of the Liverpool Tidal Institute (LTI) was celebrated during 2019. One aspect of tidal science for which the LTI acquired a worldwide reputation was the development and use of tide prediction machines (TPMs). The TPM was invented in the late 19th century, but most of them were made in the first half of the 20th century, up until the time that the advent of digital computers consigned them to museums. This paper describes the basic principles of a TPM, reviews how many were constructed around the world and discusses the method devised by Arthur Doodson at the LTI for the determination of harmonic tidal constants from tide gauge data. These constants were required in order to set up the TPMs for predicting the heights and times of the tides. Although only 3 of the 30-odd TPMs constructed were employed in operational tidal prediction at the LTI, Doodson was responsible for the design and oversight of the manufacture of several others. The paper demonstrates how the UK, and the LTI and Doodson in particular, played a central role in this area of tidal science.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2190-5029
Date made live: 23 Apr 2020 09:31 +0 (UTC)

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