King Tide phenomenon used to study the effects of rising sea levels


MALIBU (NewsNation Now) — The King Tides never fail to impress. From the mesmerizing sight of higher than usual waves Monday morning in the Bay Area to the wonder of lower than usual tides that afternoon in Malibu.

It’s a regular phenomenon that happens when the sun, the moon, and the earth align and create a stronger gravitational pull.

And it always creates a gravitational pull on people to come out and see it for themselves.

Today, more creatures were revealed, such as tiny crab and slimy sea slugs which can be used for medical research. Marine collectors often have to dive for them… but today’s negative low tide made things easier.

“We take advantage of it. Instead of using our equipment, we just get a couple buckets, you know,” marine collector Mickey Salinas said.

King Tides can happen up to four times a year when the alignment of the sun, moon, and earth produces a stronger gravitational pull. 

According to the California Coastal Commission’s King Tides Project, the phenomenon provides an important preview since sea levels are rising. 

“King Tides themselves have nothing to do with climate change but we use them to learn about future climate change,” CA King Tides Project Manager Annie Kohut Frankel said. “They are about one to two feet higher than the average tide we see throughout the year and that’s about the amount of sea level rise we’re expecting in California over the next few decades.”

All are encouraged to share images to social media with a #KingTides hashtag to help researchers in tracking the impact and changes to the shoreline. 

However, King Tides don’t necessarily mean good surfing.

“Everything becomes flat when that much water comes in. And unless you have a really big swell, it’s not gonna be able to overcome the tide, so it’s generally flat,” California surfer Maria Shen said.

Experts do know the next King Tides will start Dec. 13 and the swells are predicted to be even higher than 7 feet. 

Ahead of that, the King Tides Project will analyze the impact from this latest round, especially since there was no major weather to factor into the data.

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