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LiveSmart BC - Blog
December 21, 2011
King Tides: Inspiring us to Adapt to the Impacts of Sea Level Rise
UPDATE: Winter 2012-13 promises even greater king tide photo opportunities than last year!
Do you live near the ocean? Millions of British Columbians do! If the mountains are our backyard, then the Pacific is definitely our front yard... on our doorstep. Not literally of course, well... at least not yet... or not often... yet...
In fact, for many British Columbians, high waters from the Pacific do make it up into their yards, parks, roads, etc. Usually this is the result of a combination of high waters and high winds... a kind of "perfect storm" of conditions. For example, high waters (spring tides) tend to happen twice per month (during full and new moons); and high winds tend to happen more often in the winter months. Additionally, the B.C. coast experiences "storm surges" during the winter, especially during La Niña winters such as this one.
So what happens when all these forces converge?... Well, "King Tides" of course: High Tides during a "spring" of the month (recall: New Moon + Eclipse = Nov 13-14). And if an Aleutian Low storm system coincides: bam! Water inundation!
Well who cares? and what does this have to do with Climate Change?
Good questions. To be clear: climate change does not affect the tides. King Tides are not a result of climate change. However we do care about them because they help us understand how to Adapt to climate change.
Adaptation is the practice of understanding how a changing climate will affect property and infrastructure -- such as rising sea levels eroding coastlines and causing flooding and saltwater intrusion -- and designing plans and strategies to be ready for it.
King Tides offer us a glimpse into the future: these abnormally high water levels demonstrate what regular high tide levels will be like later in the century. In fact, British Columbians can expect an extra centimetre per year, on average.
Okay, I care now. How does knowing help? What can I do?
Glad you asked! As an old saturday-morning cartoon taught us: "Knowing is half the battle". If we know where water inundation is the most threatening, we can better prepare to adapt our properties and infrastructure in those locations. Ideally we could map out images of the B.C. coastline where high waters comprimise roads and homes, etc.
As far as "what you can do", well- why not help us do just that!
Take photos of King Tides and their effects on local parks, backyards, bridges, docks, farms, etc. Then, share these images on social media: tweet using #KingTideBC, submit on our Flickr Group, and make sure to GeoTag everything. If you are part of a photography club, or just have a pile of friends looking for something to do over the holidays, check out our Your King Tides resource page for organising local outtings, and check out the Tide Chart (schedule) for your community.
Remember, be careful and take caution while shooting photos along the coast - wind and wet rocks are a terrible mix with slick new sneakers. And if you took a fancy camera out of your stocking this year, remember to connect the wrist strap before you go out!
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YouTube Video Tutorial: King Tide Photos Group on Flickr - join and submit photos.
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