King tides initiative raises awareness of rising sea levels

The high tide at the Berkeley Marina on Wednesday Dec. 12. Photo: Ira Serkes

Photographers, nature lovers and climate change observers are joining forces to document California’s annual surge of high tides. By gathering photographs of the phenomenon, they hope to raise awareness of how rising sea levels will impact coastal regions in years to come.

Berkeley realtor and chronicler extraordinaire Ira Serkes was snapping photos at the Berkeley Marina yesterday on the first day of a three-day high tide period. King Tide events for the 2012-2013 season take place in four periods: November 13-15, December 12-14, January 9-11, and February 7-9.

The highest tide of the year for the San Francisco Bay — 7.2 ft — will take place today at 10:34 a.m (see tide chart, below).

The high tide at the Berkeley Marina on Wednesday Dec. 12. Photo: Ira Serkes

If you plan to take photos of Berkeley’s high seasonal tides today and tomorrow consider sharing them with the California King Tides Initiative (on their websiteFacebook page and via Twitter), and send them to Berkeleyside too (by email, by uploading them to our Flickr pool, or via Twitter) and we will publish them with this story.

The project has already collected striking photographs from around the bay, including some taken at Point Richmond, the San Francisco Marina, and several showing floods in Mill Valley.

The California King Tides Initiative says these photographs help people visualize the impact of rising waters on the California coast. “Our shores are constantly being altered by human and natural processes and projections indicate that sea level rise will exacerbate these changes,” they write on their website. “The images offer a living record of the changes to our coasts and shorelines and a glimpse of what our daily tides may look like in the future as a result of sea level rise.”

They also warn snappers to be safe: “Take extra precautions when you walk on slippery areas or near big waves, and always be aware of your surroundings and the weather conditions.”

For more information on King tides visit the California King Tides Initiative.

The San Francisco Bay tide chart shows the highest tide of the year — 7.2ft — will be today at 10:34 a.m.

Update, 11:55 a.m.: Dr Speed has shared the photo below of the bay in Emeryville. It clearly shows a high tide. “Annual king tide edging its way to the freeway. Inset is typical high tide,” he writes. (It was Dr Speed, aka Steven Winter, by the way, who took the most viewed photograph ever on Berkeleyside from his perch in Emeryville: the surge in the bay caused by the Japanese earthquake-induced tsunami in March 2011.)

Update, 4:42 pm.: The two photos below were shared by FiveCreeks (see more photos in our Flickr pool):

This photo, taken at 11:26 a.m. on Dec. 13, shows city staff building a wood-chip berm to contain a breach, just east of Marina Blvd. Chips are being dumped in background. Photo: FiveCreeks

This photo, taken at 11.11 a.m. on Dec. 13, shows a breach along the Virginia Extension service road, part of Eastshore State Park, a few hundred feet east of Marina Boulevard. Photo: FiveCreeks

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  • 3rdGenBerkeleyan

    The highest tide ever recorded was on Jan. 27, 1983, when
    the surface of the water at the Golden Gate reached 8.78 feet above mean sea level (at the golden gate)…so it looks like they are going down not up, we have extreme tides every winter no need for alarm it’s going to be okay!

  • The Sharkey

    I hope the high tides don’t float away the Snoopy sculpture someone erected out in the water near the pedestrian bridge!

    Is there a term like “King Tide” for the lowest tides of the year? When do those occur?

  • http://www.facebook.com/aglimme Aaron Glimme

    Maximum highs and lows occur at the same time. They are both driven by the alignment of the Earth, Sun and Moon that give the maximum gravitational pull on the Earth’s oceans, creating higher than average highs and lower than average lows. Wikipedia has a nice article on tides. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tide

  • http://www.BerkeleyWaterfront.org/ Paul Kamen

    Cal Sailing Club and the Berkeley Racing Canoe Center took advantage
    of the extreme low tide Thursday evening to have a clambake out on Ashby
    Shoal, the muddy sandbar that only becomes an island when the tide is
    very, very low. See more photos at http://www.well.com/user/pk/Ashby/.

    Next year’s Ashby Shoal Holiday Clambake is scheduled for January 1, 2014. Mark your calendars!