Expected king tides in Bay Area to give insight into sea level rise

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Saturday, January 13, 2024
Expected Bay Area king tides to give insight into sea level rise
King tides expected in the Bay Area will give insight into sea level rise and figure out where flooding might occur, researchers say.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- King tides made a return to the Bay Area this week.

The exceptionally high tides are also expected next month and experts are using this as an opportunity to study the impact they could have for years to come.

"King tides are unusually high tides," said Jeremy Smith, coastal engineer with the California Coastal Commission, "They're about one to two feet higher than your average high tide and they're happening across California right now."

Experts with the California King Tides Project say that so far, the king tides seen on Thursday and Friday have been moderate but the king tides are giving a glimpse into sea level rise, a larger problem that can be traced back to burning fossil fuels.

Smith who is also a lead staffer on the project said that the first part in determining how to deal with climate change is working to understand how it impacts communities.

MORE: Rising sea levels putting more U.S. cities at increased risk of flooding, researchers say

"One of those important factors is figuring out where flooding might occur, and how it's going to impact our sort of infrastructure systems," he said.

Smith says sea level rise could impact those infrastructure systems and in turn, impact communities that aren't even by the water.

"When that heavy rain falls, that rain needs to get to the low spot and so when that rain is draining on our streets, and through our storm drains, a lot of times those storm drains outfall into the bay or into the ocean," Smith said, "So if you have a higher sea level, that can sort of slow down how fast the storm drains can carry that water."

Now, experts are using the king tides to help better determine sea level rise.

Smith said pictures sent to the California King Tides Project by the public are being used to help government officials and climate change experts do that.

MORE: Study uncovers underground flood risk in Bay Area due to storms, climate change

"We're able to sort of use these photos and we can see how high the water was at a certain time and we can use that to sort of improve our models of flooding," he said, "That can be really useful for trying to figure out how climate change is going to impact our communities."

The California King Tides Project has so far received around 200 photo submissions from Thursday and Friday's King Tides.

With the next king tide event expected Feb. 9, they're hoping for people to take and submit even more.

"Keep a good distance, especially when there's waves involved," Smith said urging people to take photos safely, "You want to make sure that you're sufficiently far back.

If you have you have photos to submit, click here.

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