King Tides Will Disappear Beaches

The extreme high tides this week offer a glimpse into what rising ocean levels could look like in the future.

"High tide" will really live up to its name this week, when the year's biggest tides pound the California coastline.

Beaches, like Albany Beach, will vanish and bay waters will lap inches below the San Francisco International Airport's runway during the King Tide phenomena Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 

“King Tides” are high tides that occur when the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are in alignment, according to the California King Tides Initiative, an crowd-sourcing effort to document the high sea levels. The tides happen about once a month, but the larger events typically occur in the winter when there is storm activity. High tides through Friday are the biggest of 2012.

The California King Tides Initiative encourages people to take and submit photos of the high water levels, especially against iconic backdrops such as bridges or seawalls. Researchers can then use the photos to track water levels and changes over time. The Initiative collected photos last winter as well.

The photos provide a sneak peak into what rising sea levels could look like in California, an area that could experience up to a 2-foot increase by 2050, according to the Sea Level Rise Report from the National Academy of Science.

Researchers told the Mercury News the live views of higher sea levels are an educational opportunity for the general public.

"It's not just a model," Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said in the Mercury News.

The King Tides will hit in the morning and around the noon hour the San Francisco Bay Area.

King Tides also bring extreme low tides, so enjoy afternoons with lots of exposed beach—perfect for tide pooling and beach combing.

Tod Abbott December 13, 2012 at 01:46 AM
I added a few more photos. I took these right at high tide (about 10:15 AM) on 12-12-12. Reported 7.13 ft tide. There was no appreciable wind, so these represent a best-case-scenario for the king tide. You can see that it wouldn't take much for the waves to breach the barrier blocking the GGF parking lot from the water.
Karen Larson December 13, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Thanks for the heads up about this Patch! I went down to the Albany Bulb yesterday & noticed that the whole Bay looked "fuller." Interesting.
Dover December 13, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Who wrote this headline?
Alan Eckert December 13, 2012 at 09:30 PM
What is wrong with it? My guess is the use of "Disappear," but there is a transitive verb use of the word that is fitting for this description.
Dover December 13, 2012 at 10:55 PM
That's odd. I don't recall using the word "wrong." Are you on the right page?
Paul Kamen December 15, 2012 at 09:52 AM
I think the point is that stable beaches will not disappear, they adjust to the sea level. Otherwise they would not be stable beaches. In the case of Albany beach, we can expect the sand to continue to accumulate at least as fast as rising sea level. The parking lot and other low-elevation land behind the beach, however, is on its way to becoming a tidal marsh behind the barrier beach, if left alone. Rising sea level will wreck havoc with the storm drain system at every high tide, but the shoreline itself will be fine even in the worst sea level scenarios.
Paul Kamen December 15, 2012 at 09:55 AM
Meanwhile, the Cal Sailing Club and the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center had some fun with the very low tide that accompanied the very high tide. See http://www.well.com/user/pk/Ashby/ for photos of the bonfire and clambake out on Ashby Shoal.


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