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Harmonic constants

Harmonic constants are created by analysis of regular water level readings taken by automated tide stations
like the one pictured here. A tide station whose predictions trace directly to harmonic constants that were
derived from water level readings for that same station is called a reference station.

Corrections
A subordinate station is a tide station whose predictions are obtained by applying corrections to the
predictions generated for a reference station, i.e., a station for which we have good harmonic constants. The
words 'corrections,' 'differences,' and 'offsets' are used interchangeably.
While harmonic constants can be hard to get, you should be able to get offsets with relative ease from a local
boating magazine, chartbook, yacht club, or marine authority.
There are many different flavors of offsets for subordinate stations. At this time, XTide supports all
commonly appearing flavors except for the Admiralty one that has different height differences depending on
the time of month. The following rare and freakish sorts are not supported: those that use different offsets
depending on whether the flood at the reference station crossed some threshold; those that rely on more than
one reference station; those that use different offsets for higher high or low water versus lower high or low
water; currents that use a regular tide station as reference, or vice-versa.
Some putative sets of harmonic constants for subordinate stations were created by mangling the constants of
a reference station to approximate the results of applying corrections. Such mangled data only junk up the
database and should be avoided.

Adding subordinate stations using tideEditor


If you find suitable offsets, you can add them to harmonics.tcd using the tideEditor program available from
http://www.flaterco.com/xtide/files.html#extras. There are two other ways to do it, as described below under
"Importing batches of harmonic constants and offsets," but tideEditor is most expedient for the non-expert.
First, always make a backup copy of whatever you are about to modify.
TideEditor version 1.4 takes the name of the file to modify as the command-line argument.
bash-3.1$ tideEditor whatever.tcd

When you start tideEditor, you get a map of the world. Point at the location where you want to add a
subordinate station and right click.
You will get a prompt asking "Will the new station be a reference station or a subordinate station?" Choose
Subordinate.
You will get a prompt saying "Please select the new reference station." Use the pull-down list to select the
reference station and click OK.
You will then get a window with the tabs General, Verbiage and Offsets, initially showing General. On the
General tab, the Reference Station, Latitude and Longitude fields will be pre-filled based on your previous
actions. If you don't know the correct latitude and longitude, just estimate the coordinates as best you can.

The other fields that you MUST fill in are as follows:

Station Name: Enter the name of the new subordinate station.


Time Zone: Use the pull-down to set the time zone (select the major city for the applicable region).
The timezone attribute is only used to choose the time zone in which to render output for the location.
In the majority of cases this will be the same as for the reference station.
Level Units: Select feet or meters for tides, knots for currents.

All other fields on the General and Verbiage tabs are optional. Descriptions of the other fields are obtainable
using the question mark tool thingy).
The Offsets tab has the following fields.

Minimum Time Add. The time adjustment for low tide / max ebb. It is expressed as an integer that is
hours times 100 plus minutes, so for 0:20 (negative 0 hours, 20 minutes) you would write 20, and
for 1:40 (positive 1 hour, 40 minutes) you would write 140. If you don't have this, leave it blank.
Minimum Level Add. A value, in the units identified by Level Units, that is added to the tide level or
current velocity predicted at low tide or max ebb. If you don't have this, leave it blank.
Minimum Level Multiply. A multiplier for the tide level or current velocity predicted at low tide or
max ebb. If you don't have this, leave it blank.
Maximum Time Add, Level Add, and Level Multiply are analogous, but correspond to high tide /
max flood.
Flood Begins. Another kind of "Time Add" used only by currents to adjust the time of the slack
preceding a flood. If you don't have this, leave it blank. If it got initialized to zero, make it blank.
Ebb Begins. Analogous to Flood Begins.

Notations used to describe corrections will vary:


Notation
0:20
1 23
*1.07
+0.4
(*0.65+0.3)

Translation
Time Add 20
Time Add 123
Level Multiply 1.07
Level Add 0.4
Level Multiply 0.65, Level Add 0.3

If you were not given separate corrections for max and min, set both the max and min values to whatever you
got. For example, if you get
Head Harbor, Isle au Haut

-0:20

(Portland)

then you should set both Minimum Tide Add and Maximum Time Add to 20.
Special cases:

If you don't get slack offsets (floodbegins, ebbbegins) for a current station, OMIT those fields!
When slack offsets are omitted, XTide will interpolate a reasonable value. But if you specify zero,
you get zeroeven if that's unreasonable with respect to the specified max and min.

If your reference station is in a different time zone, you may need to alter the time offsets to
REMOVE compensation for the time zone difference. NOAA had a practice of including the time
zone differential in the offsets, but in XTide, the offsets are independent of the time zone.

When finished, click OK. When you quit tideEditor, your new station will be saved in the updated TCD file.

Adding reference stations using tideEditor


To add a reference station with tideEditor, the general process is similar to adding a subordinate station, but
the data to enter are more obscure and there are more opportunities for the non-expert to get stuck.
When you get the prompt asking "Will the new station be a reference station or a subordinate station?"
choose Reference.
Instead of "Offsets," the third tab in the dialog is now "Constituents."

Datum Description. Choose Mean Lower Low Water or whatever is the description of the datum that
you have received. If you don't know, you can proceed without setting it.
Datum Value. Enter the datum (sometimes known as Z0) in the level units that were specified on the
first tab.
Meridian. This is a fixed offset from UTC to which the amplitudes of the harmonic constants were
calibrated. Opportunity for trouble: You have to know the right answer for the data that you received.
Sometimes it will be local standard time for the location; sometimes it will be zero. The format is
hours times 100 plus minutes, with positive values being east of Greenwich and negative values west.
Amplitude and Epoch for many constituents. Scroll down to see all of the constituents that are
supported by the harmonics file. Opportunity for trouble: Different countries sometimes use different
names for the same constituents, or worse yet, use the same names for different constituents. XTide's
naming scheme is just yet another one that had to deal with these ambiguities and conflicts. For the
technical definitions of the constituents used in XTide's default harmonics files, refer to the Congen
package.

Importing batches of harmonic constants and offsets


All pretense of user-friendliness stops here. If you want to do large numbers of stations without lots of
manual data entry, you have two options, both of which require a higher level of computer literacy than is
demanded by tideEditor.
1. The good way is to install Harmbase 2 and either write an import procedure for your data format or
convert your data into one of the formats that it can already import. Harmbase 2 uses PostgreSQL to
manage the data and merely exports to the TCD format.
2. The evil way is to convert your data into the legacy .txt and .xml file formats that XTide used in the
bad old days and then use tcd-utils to convert that to TCD.

Deriving harmonic constants from water level data


Anyone with a Linux PC, enough determination to install Octave, enough skill to convert data from one
format to another, and enough dataat least a year's worth of hourly water level measurementsshould be
able to derive harmonic constants using the Harmgen package. Harmgen produces results in the form of an

SQL insert statement that loads the new station into Harmbase 2 using XTide's constituent naming scheme.
Those with sufficient background and a reason to do it can change the constituent set, but the new constituent
definitions must be harmonized between Harmbase and Harmgen.
There is no added complication from multi-year time serieses. Harmgen accounts for the equilibrium
arguments and node factors for each year and minimizes the error across the entire span of the time series.
Under the best of circumstances, predictions from harmonic constants derived this way can be expected to
differ from authoritative predictions by 20 minutes or so. But if the authorities are using a nonharmonic
method of tide predictionor if you messed upthe discrepancies could be worse. It is up to you to do
quality assurance.
Details on the operation of Harmgen can be found in that package's README file.

List of web sites with traceable data


This list is probably neither complete nor current. These are just the data sources that have been brought to
my attention. Links valid as of 2012-02-26.
Harmonic constants:

Italy: I had this link, but I can't find anything there now. Maybe here?
National Ocean Service: Some locations outside of U.S. jurisdiction have historically been included
along with the U.S. data.
Norway (simplified harmonic constants only) [*]
Spain

Water level data:

Canada
Spain
U.K.
University of Hawai`i Sea Level Center (see also here or here)

* "Simplified" harmonic constants just omit all but the 6 or 7 most significant constituents, which limits the
accuracy that can be achieved for predictions. If simplified harmonic constants are to be used, it is a good
idea to enable constituent inference in XTide.

Current Constants: Tidal current relations that re-main practically constant for any
particular locality. Current constants are classified as harmonic and non-harmonic. The harmonic
constants consist of the am plitudes and epochs of the harmonic constituents, and the nonharmonic constants include the velocities and intervals derived directly from the current
observations.
Harmonic Constants: The amplitudes and epochs of the harmonic constituents of the tide or tidal current at
any place.
Harmonic Analysis: The mathematical process by which the observed tide or tidal current at any place is
separated into basic harmonic constituents

Harmonic Analyzer: A machine designed for the resolution of a periodic curve into its harmonic
constituents. Now performed by electronic digital computer
Harmonic Prediction: Method of predicting tides and tidal currents by combining the harmonic constituents
into a single tide curve. The work is usually performed by electronic digital computer
A harmonic of a wave is a component frequency of the signal that is an integer multiple of the fundamental
frequency, i.e. if the fundamental frequency is f, the harmonics have frequencies 2f, 3f, 4f, . . . etc. The
harmonics have the property that they are all periodic at the fundamental frequency, therefore the sum of
harmonics is also periodic at that frequency. Harmonic frequencies are equally spaced by the width of the
fundamental frequency and can be found by repeatedly adding that frequency. For example, if the
fundamental frequency is 25 Hz, the frequencies of the harmonics are: 50 Hz, 75 Hz, 100 Hz etc

Epoch: (1) Also known as phase lag. Angular retardation of the maximum of a constituent of the
observed tide (or tidal current) behind the corresponding maximum of the same constituent of
the theoretical equilibrium tide. It may also be defined as the phase difference between a tidal
constituent and its equilibrium argument. As referred to the local equilibrium argument, its
symbol is 6. When referred to the corresponding Greenwich equilibrium argument, it is called
the Greenwich epoch and is represented by G. A Greenwich epoch that has been modified to
adjust to a particular time meridian for convenience in the prediction of tides is represented by g
or by 6N. The relations between these epochs may be expressed by the following formula: G = 6
+ pl, g = 6N = G as / 15 in which L is the longitude of the place and S is the longitude of the
time meridian, these being taken as positive for west longitude and negative for east longitude; p
is the number of constituent periods in the constituent day and is equal to 0 for all long-period
constituents, 1 for diurnal constituents, 2 for semidiurnal constituents, and so forth; and a is the
hourly speed of the constituent, all angular measurements being expressed in degrees. (2) As
used in tidal datum determination, it is a 19-year cycle over which tidal height observations are
meaned in order to establish the various datums. As there are periodic and apparent secular
trends in sea level, a specific 19-year cycle (the National Tidal Datum Epoch) is selected so that
all tidal datum determinations throughout the United States, its territories, Commonwealth of
Puerto Rico, and Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, will have a common reference. See
National Tidal Datum Epoch.
National Tidal Datum Epoch: The specific l9-year period adopted by the National Ocean
Service as the official time segment over which tide observations are taken and reduced to obtain
mean values (e.g., mean lower low water, etc.) for tidal datums. It is necessary for
standardization because of periodic and apparent secular trends in sea level. The present National
Tidal Datum Epoch is 1960 through 1978. It is reviewed annually for possible revision and must
be actively considered for revision every 25 years.
where Hn is an amplitiude in metres, gn is a phase lag on the Equilibrium Tide at Greenwich in
degrees, n is an angular speed and t is time.
Except where indicated to the contrary, all harmonic constants listed are based on observations
lasting for at least one month. All times of predictions calculated by DP560 are in the same Zone
Time as the harmonic constants, Charges in Zone time are clearly annotated on the relevant

pages. All predicted heights are given in meters above Charts Datum, which is taken as the
datum of depths on the latest edition of the largest scale Admiralty Chart. In the British Isles,
Chart Datum at all ports is approximately the level of Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT). All
metric charts of these waters are referred to this Datum. Predictions calculated by DP560 using
the harmonic constants herein are valid for average meteorological conditions. It follows,
therefore, that when such conditions are not average the actual tides may differ from those
predicted. Under extreme conditions these differences can be very large. Users of this
publication and of DP560 are asked to keep the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office informed
of any inaccuracies noted and are invited to make suggestions for the improvement of the two
publications. ISBN: 978-0-70--772-1309.
The World Geodetic System is a standard for use in cartography, geodesy, and navigation. It
comprises a standard coordinate frame for the Earth, a standard spheroidal reference surface (the
datum or reference ellipsoid) for raw altitude data, and a gravitational equipotential surface (the
geoid) that defines the nominal sea level.
The latest revision is WGS 84 (dating from 1984 and last revised in 2004), which was valid up
to about 2010.[1][citation needed] Earlier schemes included WGS 72, WGS 66, and WGS 60. WGS 84
is the reference coordinate system used by the Global Positioning System.
A Cartesian coordinate system specifies each point uniquely in a plane by a pair of numerical
coordinates, which are the signed distances from the point to two fixed perpendicular directed
lines, measured in the same unit of length. Each reference line is called a coordinate axis or just
axis of the system, and the point where they meet is its origin, usually at ordered pair (0,0). The
coordinates can also be defined as the positions of the perpendicular projections of the point onto
the two axes, expressed as signed distances from the origin.
The coordinate origin of WGS 84 is meant to be located at the Earth's center of mass; the error is
believed to be less than 2 cm. [2]
The WGS 84 meridian of zero longitude is the IERS Reference Meridian,[3] 5.31 arc seconds or
102.5 metres (336.3 ft) east of the Greenwich meridian at the latitude of the Royal Observatory.
[4][5]

The WGS 84 datum surface is an oblate spheroid (ellipsoid) with major (transverse) radius a =
6378137 m at the equator and flattening f = 1/298.257223563.[6] The polar semi-minor
(conjugate) radius b then equals a times (1f), or 6356752.3142 m.[6]
Presently WGS 84 uses the EGM96 (Earth Gravitational Model 1996) geoid, revised in 2004.
This geoid defines the nominal sea level surface by means of a spherical harmonics series of
degree 360 (which provides about 100 km horizontal resolution). [7] The deviations of the EGM96
geoid from the WGS 84 reference ellipsoid range from about 105 m to about +85 m. [8] EGM96
differs from the original WGS 84 geoid, referred to as EGM84.
The Unified WGS Solution, as stated above, was a solution for geodetic positions and associated
parameters of the gravitational field based on an optimum combination of available data. The
WGS 72 ellipsoid parameters, datum shifts and other associated constants were derived
separately. For the unified solution, a normal equation matrix was formed based on each of the

mentioned data sets. Then, the individual normal equation matrices were combined and the
resultant matrix solved to obtain the positions and the parameters.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (November 2008)

Crossing the Demerara River via the Demerara Harbour Bridge


The Demerara River is a river in eastern Guyana that rises in the central rainforests of the
country and flows to the north for 346 kilometres until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.
Georgetown, Guyana's largest seaport and capital, is situated on the east bank of the river's
mouth. The Demerara's estuary is narrow and the flowrate is rapid. This scouring action
maintains a 5-6 metre deep direct channel to the ocean. The river's deep brown color is primarily
the result of the massive quantities of silt carried from upriver by the powerful currents. So
powerful are these currents, that the ocean retains the Demerara's brown color for a considerable
distance out to sea.
The Demerara's width and depth allow oceangoing vessels to navigate up to Linden (105 km
from the mouth), while smaller vessels may reach up to Malali (245 km from the mouth).
Beyond Malali, numerous rapids make further upstream travel impossible.
A floating bridge, the Demerara Harbour Bridge, crosses the river 4 miles south of Georgetown
from Peter's Hall, East Bank Demerara to Schoon Ord, West Bank Demerara.
Tributaries of the Demerara River include the Haiama River, Kuruabaru River, Haiakwa Creek
and Haianari Creek.
The islands Inver, Borselem, and Biesen are found 15 to 20 miles from the mouth. Borselem was
once the location of the Dutch capital of Demerara.
A Dutch colony of the same name (see Demerara) was situated along the river's banks. The
colony founded the sugarcane industry that continues to thrive today. Sugar from this industry is
used to make the widely exported El Dorado Rum [1]. Bauxite is also mined around the
Demerara, and Linden is a major export centre