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Senior Tide Analyst, in the New Zealand Hydrographic Authority which is part of Land Information New Zealand.
I am responsible for providing authoritative information and advice regarding sea level and tides. This information is used to meet New Zealand’s ‘safety of life at sea’ obligations, enhance the safety of coastal communities and supports the safe use and enjoyment of the marine environment by the general public.
I also oversee the operation and performance of the sea level monitoring stations that provide tsunami wave information which is used by Civil Defence to keep us safe.
I began my working career after graduating as a land surveyor from the School of Surveying, Otago University. Initially I carried out a variety of surveying tasks, but over time I specialised in geodetic surveying which involves accurate measurements and taking into account the shape of the earth. At the end of 2004 an opportunity arose to work with sea level data and produce tide predictions – a job I have enjoyed doing ever since.
Even though I have been doing this job for more than 12 years there is always something new to discover and learn about the tides and this helps make the job interesting. Whenever there has been a tsunami event it has been very special to see the waves being recorded by our sea level monitoring network and to know that this information is vital to Civil Defence and the safety of our coastal communities. I also enjoy helping people understand more about the tides.
Sometimes part of the job can be tedious, but I think that this is true for most jobs.
I am lucky that I get to work on a variety of tide-related tasks as well as other nautical information activities within our team. One project I am assisting with right now is one that will help people merge together land elevation data and marine depth data to support seamless mapping across the inter-tidal zone that will aid coastal studies and inundation modelling to name but two applications.
Recently I had to investigate some tidal stream information that appeared to be incorrect. The information was based on measurements made 50 years ago and I had to work out how they did the calculations back then. Although I found some minor errors, the new results did not solve the problem. After trying a number of ideas without success I noticed that the measurements had been made at a depth much greater than would be possible in the shallow channel that they were assigned to. I then realised that two sets of tidal stream measurements had been swapped around and published in the wrong location. This result was very satisfying because I had to figure out how the calculations were done long ago and the problem was solved by recognising that a tiny piece of information did not fit reality.
I once had a job to measure a distance between two trig stations using an electronic distance measuring instrument. The distance was near the instrument’s limit so I decided to do the work towards the end of the day when atmospheric conditions would be most favourable. The hill top that I was going to involved a 2km hike across farmland and a climb of 200 metres. It took longer than I expected to get to the top of the hill and by the time the measurement was completed it was starting to get dark. I then had to walk back down the hill, cross a river and return to my vehicle with no track to guide my path. I learned that night-time in the country can be very dark and this makes walking across uneven terrain very difficult. I also learned that sometimes jobs can take longer than expected and sometimes something as basic as a torch can make a big difference to a situation – in other words, be prepared.
I have a Diploma in Land Surveying (Otago University) and am a member of the New Zealand Institute of Surveyors.
I have a keen interest in astronomy and enjoy photography. I also like to keep active by mountain bike riding (particularly doing multi-day trips) and commuting to work by cycle.
Glen Rowe is a Tide Analyst at Land Information New Zealand. Image: LINZ.