Environment & Science

King tides rolling into the California coast next week

A 2012 photo of the king tides in Malibu.
A 2012 photo of the king tides in Malibu.
LA Waterkeeper/Flickr/Creative Commons

Want to see California's future? Take a look at the tides next week. 

At least that's the idea behind the California King Tides project, which for the sixth year is asking citizen scientists to snap photos of high tides to visualize the rising sea levels that many argue have been brought on by climate change. 

The king tides, which happen when the sun and the moon sync up and have their maximum gravitational pull on Earth's waters, are coming on Dec. 22, 23 and 24. Tides are expected to peak at 6.16 feet at 6:39 a.m. on Tuesday, 6.37 feet at 7:22 a.m. on Wednesday and at 6.42 feet at 8:04 a.m. on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

“Last month, as in years past, we got some excellent images from around the state… really illustrating the impacts that we can expect from ongoing sea level rise,” said Sara Aminzadeh, executive director of California Coastkeeper Alliance, which launched the photography project six years ago. Since then, over a thousand photos have been submitted, from waves pounding into piers to flooded highways.

The alliance says local planners have been using the project photos as part of research they're doing on sea level rise. “[Projections] are very different than actually being able to see where the inundation occurs and how it spills over to different aspects of a property or a natural area," said Aminzadeh.


The alliance wants submissions from young people, classrooms and families but not at the expense of anyone's safety especially with El Niño on the horizon. “Never turn your back to the ocean and that's especially true during the king tides,” Aminzadeh said. (Click here for more tips.)

Aminzadeh believes the project is especially relevant right now, given the landmark agreement adopted at the United Nations Climate Change Conference this month in Paris.

"We know some climate change impacts are already occurring and will continue to occur. I think it's a really special time for Californians to come together and just think creatively about how we can adapt and be resilient," she said.