USGS scientist explains how king tides provide a glimpse of future sea levels

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USGS geologist Patrick Barnard spoke to the public at a “Coffee and King Tides” gathering held in Half Moon Bay, California, on December 4.

King tides are unusually high tides caused by the alignment of the sun, Earth, and moon. County officials invited the public to view the high water levels caused by a king tide on December 4, and learn about county plans for the future, when sea level rise could turn unusually high tides into the norm. A December 7 story in the Half Moon Bay Review quoted Barnard extensively. He is the principal investigator for the USGS Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS), which projects coastal flooding due to both future sea level rise and storms integrated with long-term coastal evolution.

 

Screenshot from interactive mapping tool that displays projections of flooding given sea level rise and other factors.
In Pacifica, California, low-lying Linda Mar Beach is rapidly eroding and provides minimal flood protection for the adjacent community. Projections of future coastal flooding by the USGS-developed Coastal Storm Modeling System (CoSMoS) indicate that the City of Pacifica is among the most vulnerable cities to climate change on the entire outer coast of California. This map from Our Coast, Our Future shows the projected future flooding at Pacifica considering 1.25 meters of sea level rise with the added impacts of an extreme storm.(Public domain.)