Waves, Currents Vs Tides

Last Updated on March 19, 2022 by QCity Editorial Stuff

The ocean is a powerful and complex force. Waves, currents, and tides are all present in the sea at any given time, but what exactly do they each mean? In this blog post, we will discuss three of these phenomena: waves, currents, and tides. 

Waves occur when the wind blows over the water’s surface; the more intense the wind gets (and thus stronger it blows) the larger waves can form. Currents work on similar principles to waves; they occur when water flows from one point to another due to gravity or other physical forces like pressure or temperature changes. Tides happen because of the gravitational pull between Earth and moon; as their distance apart varies so do high tide levels across coasts around the globe.

Tides are the movements of water that occur as a result of the gravitational pull from the moon and sun. This causes water to rise and fall on either side of the earth’s equator, creating two high tides per day. These tidal waves can be classified into three types: semi-diurnal (two highs), diurnal (one high), and mixed (a combination). 

Waves are created by wind or turbulence in a body of water. Waves move through space at a speed faster than currents, which flow through time at an even rate with little variation. An example is when you see someone throwing a rock into still water; it creates circular ripples called waves that move outwards from where they were thrown until they eventually stop moving.

Comparison between Waves, Currents, and Tides

Parameters of ComparisonWaves, CurrentsTides
MoveMove differentlyMove differently
PowerfulLess powerMore power
DirectionDifferent directionDifferent direction
SystemA wave is a disturbance that travels through space and matter.Tides are the regular changes in the level of seawater caused by gravitational forces from the Moon and Sun on Earth’s oceans and seas
HighLess highMore high

What are Waves, Currents?

Waves are disturbances that travel through a medium, like water or air. Waves need something to start them-a disturbance, like the wind blowing on the surface of an ocean or sound waves created by someone yelling. A wave can be either light or heavy and travels in all directions. Currents are often considered part of the same system as waves because they are also movements of fluid across a surface, but currents tend to move in one direction. The movement of water molecules creates currents just as it creates waves when there is an energy source nearby. This type of current is called tidal flow because its strength depends on tides caused by changes in gravity during different phases of the moon’s orbit around Earth. Tidal currents have three main components.

Waves are created by wind, tides, or earthquakes. Currents are formed when waves meet landforms like headlands and bays. They can also be created in the open ocean where they form gyres of rotating currents around central points. The most famous current is the Gulf Stream which flows from Florida to Newfoundland at an average speed of 6 miles per hour.

wojtek witkowski GkqWHeqZcU0 unsplash 1 1

What are Tides?

Tides are caused by the gravitational pull from the sun and moon. The earth rotates on its axis which causes a bulge in water as it moves away from the equator. When this bulge is directly under the moon or sun, it will create a high tide. Low tides happen when there is no gravitational pull because of a straight line between you and either celestial body. This happens at night because we’re rotating away from these bodies to their backsides during that period. Certain factors can affect tidal patterns such as weather, wind, earthquakes, and other natural disasters that change our planet’s tilt or orbit around the sun. We’ll explore how these external forces impact our oceans’ movement throughout history next week.

Tides are a natural phenomenon that occurs when the gravitational forces of the moon and sun interact with the Earth’s oceans. The tidal force causes the water to bulge out in the direction of the moon or sun. There are two types of tides: ocean tides and atmospheric tides. Ocean tides are caused by the differential between the gravitational pull of the moon and sun on different parts of the Earth. Atmospheric tides are caused by variations in air pressure from one place to another on Earth. Tides come in two high and low tide cycles each day, which can be seen in coastal areas. In this blog post, we will explore what causes tides and how they impact our daily lives.

graham holtshausen 63JKK67yGUE unsplash 1 1

10 Differences Between Waves, Currents, and Tides

1. A wave is a disturbance that travels through space and matter.

2. Currents are streams of dense, liquid water.

3. Tides are the regular changes in the level of seawater caused by gravitational forces from the Moon and Sun on Earth’s oceans and seas.

4. The height of a tide varies with its distance from the shoreline.

5. The farther away you get from land, the greater your chance of encountering large waves.

6. When two currents collide they create either an opposing current or a more powerful one depending on which way they’re headed.

7. Waves are created by the wind and move in a circular motion.

8. Currents flow in one direction, usually with ocean currents coming from an ocean’s warm water to the colder waters of the poles.

9. Tides happen when gravitational forces between Earth, Moon, and Sun cause high tides (when their gravitational pull is strongest) and low tides (when their gravitational pull is weakest).

10. The difference between waves and currents can be seen in how they break onshore; waves will break onto shore while currents won’t.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Waves, Currents

1. The largest wave ever recorded was a 100-foot tall monster that hit the West Coast of Canada in 2013.

2. All waves start as wind and water move across the surface of the sea.

3. Currents are caused by wind blowing against currents, which creates waves on top.

4. When you’re surfing, it’s important to remember that your weight is always shifting from one foot to another because there’s always a current pushing you away from where you want to be.

5. If two or more waves come together at an angle, they’ll create a new wave called interference patterns.

6. A tsunami can destroy up to 50 miles inland before it even makes landfall.

Interesting Statistics or Facts of Tides

1. Tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun.

2. The highest tides occur when both the moon and sun are at their closest to Earth.

3. The lowest tides happen when they’re furthest away from Earth.

4. Tides can be predicted because we know how long it takes for them to change direction.

5. Low tide happens twice a day, whereas high tide only happens once a day.

6. Ocean water is not affected by gravity as much as freshwater; this is why you’ll see higher tides in coastal areas than inland areas.


Tides are driven by the gravitational pull of the moon and sun. The tides in one area may not be very high or low because they depend on how close that location is to these celestial bodies. Tidal currents, however, can affect many areas at once-sometimes causing flooding in some places and drought in others. Currents also make waves which we see as wind blowing across a body of water like an ocean or lake–but you don’t usually notice them unless something is happening locally that makes waves more noticeable (like large ships coming into port). Waves come from winds pushing against the surface of the water such as storms rolling through coastal cities; while current comes from moving liquid-like when rivers swell with rainwater during spring runoff season.


Resource 01: https://studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/jams/science/weather-and-climate/waves-and-currents.htm#:~:text
Resource 02: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/tides.html

Scroll to Top