Tidal acceleration is an effect of the tidal forces between an orbiting natural satellite, and the primary planet that it orbits. The acceleration causes a gradual recession of a satellite in a prograde orbit away from the primary, the process eventually leads to tidal locking, usually of the smaller first, and later the larger body. The Earth–Moon system is the best studied case, the similar process of tidal deceleration occurs for satellites that have an orbital period that is shorter than the primarys rotational period, or that orbit in a retrograde direction. The naming is somewhat confusing, because the speed of the relative to the body it orbits is decreased as a result of tidal acceleration. Laplaces initial computation accounted for the effect, thus seeming to tie up the theory neatly with both modern and ancient observations. It took some time for the community to accept the reality. But eventually it became clear that three effects are involved, when measured in terms of solar time. Beside the effects of changes in Earths orbital eccentricity, as found by Laplace and corrected by Adams. First there is a real retardation of the Moons angular rate of orbital motion and this increases the Moons angular momentum around Earth. Secondly there is an apparent increase in the Moons angular rate of orbital motion and this arises from Earths loss of angular momentum and the consequent increase in length of day. Because the Moons mass is a fraction of that of Earth. The mass of the Moon is sufficiently large, and it is sufficiently close, in particular, the water of the oceans bulges out towards and away from the Moon. The average tidal bulge is synchronized with the Moons orbit, however, Earths rotation drags the position of the tidal bulge ahead of the position directly under the Moon. As a consequence, there exists a substantial amount of mass in the bulge that is offset from the line through the centers of Earth and the Moon. Because of this offset, a portion of the pull between Earths tidal bulges and the Moon is not perpendicular to the Earth–Moon line, i. e. there exists a torque between Earth and the Moon. This boosts the Moon in its orbit, and slows the rotation of Earth, as a result of this process, the mean solar day, which is nominally 86,400 seconds long, is actually getting longer when measured in SI seconds with stable atomic clocks. The small difference accumulates over time, which leads to a difference between our clock time on the one hand, and Atomic Time and Ephemeris Time on the other hand. This led to the introduction of the second in 1972 to compensate for differences in the bases for time standardization
A picture of Earth and the Moon from Mars. The presence of the moon (which has about 1/81 the mass of Earth), is slowing Earth's rotation and extending the day by about 2 milliseconds every 100 years.
A diagram of the Earth–Moon system showing how the tidal bulge is pushed ahead by Earth's rotation. This offset bulge exerts a net torque on the Moon, boosting it while slowing Earth's rotation.