San Francisco—The year's highest tides, known as “king tides,” will hit California shorelines December 4 and 5 and again January 2 and 3, providing a glimpse of what to expect as sea levels rise. North of Ventura County will see an additional king tide on New Year’s Day.
The public is asked to safely photograph the shoreline during king tides as part of an international community science project. King tides are one to two feet higher than the average tide seen throughout the year, which corresponds to the rise in sea level expected during the next few decades. Photographing the impact of these highest high tides on beaches, roads, homes, cultural sites, and wetlands helps raise awareness of climate change and helps California plan for a future when today’s king tide is an everyday occurrence.
Anyone can contribute to the California King Tides Project. By sharing what they see, participants will help others understand that they're part of a community that cares about climate change. King tide photos are used by state and local officials as well as climate change researchers to validate sea level rise models and assess local flood vulnerabilities.
Sea level rise is caused by burning fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal. In simple terms, carbon dioxide in our atmosphere acts like a blanket, trapping in heat that would otherwise escape. When we burn fossil fuels, we're adding more carbon dioxide, thickening the "blanket" and heating the land, air, and ocean. Sea levels are rising because land-based glaciers and ice sheets are melting into the ocean, and because water expands in volume when it warms. The amount of sea level rise that we will ultimately experience will depend on how quickly we stop burning fossil fuels.
For local governments along the coast, the California Coastal Commission is offering grants to support planning for and adapting to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. Local governments can apply for this funding, as part of their Local Coastal Program work, by December 22. Details are available at www.coastal.ca.gov/lcp/grants or by emailing LCPGrantProgram@coastal.ca.gov.
To learn how to submit photos to the California King Tides Project visit california.kingtides.net, which also includes past king tides photos, local king tide times, and resources for educators teaching about climate change. The king tides photo upload form includes instructions in both English and Spanish.