Welcome to the Future – King Tides Preview Sea Level Rise

Photo: King Tide by Tom Hilton is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you’ve been watching the news, you’ve probably heard some mention of King Tides in places like Sausalito, Mill Valley, San Francisco, and Alameda. A King Tide is a natural phenomenon that occurs near the Summer and Winter solstices, during the new and full moon phases, when the moon, sun, and Earth are aligned. This alignment causes the strongest biannual gravitational force on Earth’s oceans, resulting in these dramatic tidal fluctuations.

King Tides help us to see today what will be the average daily high tides in 2050 due to climate change and show us now where flooding will occur as the sea level continues to rise, as shown in the photos below. These photos were submitted to the California King Tides Project, which encourages people to take pictures of their communities to document flooding during King Tides.

Photos A-F: Photos submitted to the California King Tides Project of San Francisco Bay Area communities during a King Tide in Winter 2012/2013. (a) The Embarcadero in San Francisco (b) Sidewalk in Alameda (c) HWY 1 underpass in Sausalito (d) Byway in Mill Valley (e) Sharp Park in Pacifica, (f) Rockaway in Pacifica

Save The Bay is working to protect the Bay from sea-level rise through wetland restoration and advancing Bay Smart Communities. Healthy wetlands act as a sponge, slowing down and soaking up large volumes of water, so healthy wetlands help to keep coastal communities safe by buffering the effects of severe storms and flooding. Last year alone, Save The Bay engaged 4,475 volunteers to plant more than 42,000 native plants to restore and revegetate the Bay’s wetlands.

The San Francisco Bay is one of the most urbanized estuaries in the world. The majority of our seven million Bay Area residents live and work within a half-mile from the Bay. To protect the Bay and our region’s most vulnerable residents, we are advocating for smart, sustainable, and equitable development practices that will result in Bay Smart Communities.

Bay Smart Communities concentrate housing near transit and away from the shoreline, are affordable and inclusive, and incorporate nature-based design into city infrastructure. Rain gardens and sustainable landscaping practices stop trash and other pollution from flowing into the Bay and helps prevent flooding from stronger and more frequent storms – another expected impact of climate change on our region. Time is running out and we need to invest in Bay Smart Communities now. Combining those extreme high tides with large storms could result in devastating impacts. Communities can help to prepare for sea-level rise by becoming involved with and supporting wetland restoration and urban infrastructure that help to keep coastal communities safe.