The Coast Commission seeks data on royal tides

SANTA MONICA, Calif. — Ocean water, Laurene Von Klan said, was fascinating. It was like watching the fingers of the ocean dance higher and higher on the shore than she was used to seeing.

Von Klan, co-chair of Climate Action Santa Monica, recalled the last time she checked royal tides in her city, the inspiration for a viewing event CASM will be hosting this weekend.

What do you want to know

  • The California Coastal Commission’s King Tides Project is seeking photos and data from the public to track the growth of the highest tides
  • Royal tides are the highest of the high tides – predictable and regular occurrences – but are often one to two feet higher than normal water rise
  • The California Coastal Commission tracks high tides to estimate the impacts of sea level rise along coastal regions
  • The next Royal Tide events in California are expected on December 4-5 and early January

“It was both peaceful and a reminder that this ocean is powerful, and will continue no matter what we do,” she said.

High tides are a daily phenomenon, resulting from the simple movement of water according to the gravitational exchanges of the Earth, the Moon and the Sun. Spring tides are high tides pushed to their extreme, often one to two feet higher than the typical high water mark.

They happen when the gravitational alignments are perfect – they are regular, they are expected and they are predictable.

And while high tides aren’t that unusual, the California Coastal Commission notes that they can give researchers an idea of ​​what we could be experiencing due to sea level rise caused by global warming.

On December 4 and 5, during this month’s Royal Tide events, the Coast Commission is asking Californians — like Von Klan and CASM — to submit photos to its King Tides Project photo gallery for inclusion in a map. interactive online.

Government agencies, such as Los Angeles County, are contributing to the project this weekend; employees will hit county beaches within 30 minutes of the day’s high tide to take photos and share them both on social media and on the King Tides Project website.

Climate change is a growing concern at county beaches; high waves have caused flooding in parking lots at Venice and Zuma beaches, and berms are regularly built to prevent such flooding and protect facilities on the narrower beaches.

For Von Klan, high tide days are as much about admiring the ocean as it is about preventing climate change.

“It’s a way for us to bring people together to feel connected in the face of the climate crisis. The anxiety that people have, in some cases, makes them feel helpless,” Von Klan said. When they connect with other people and root themselves in their local environment, they don’t feel so helpless.”

The adage that attracting more flies with honey rather than vinegar comes to mind – but that doesn’t mean the inconvenient truths will be dodged. A potential concern, she said, is the combination of high tides and winter storm surges causing even greater damage.

“There are houses that may need to be moved, roads – even major roads leading to highways – that may be flooded and closed intermittently,” Von Klan said. “When you look at sea level rise in that context, it’s pretty scary. But we’re doing this more to allow people to connect and enjoy the ocean, and find a community to talk about. what we can do about climate change.

For more information on the King Tides project, including events this weekend and in January, visit

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