tides

King Tides and Sea Level Rise, Part 2

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By Nancy Stoner

Growing up in Virginia, I loved it when my family went to the beach each summer. The beach was a place where we could have fun together. Now, as the acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water, I am well aware how climate change may impact the seashore and our estuaries.

Coastal processes such as tides don’t just happen right at the seashore. Tides can extend far up into our estuaries and rivers; we have tides in the Washington D.C., which is 188 miles upstream from the Atlantic Ocean. Sea level rise is a concern here and all around the U.S. too. The relative rate of sea level rise measured at the Washington D.C. tide gauge from 1924 through 2012 is equivalent to 13 inches in 100 years. Sea level is projected to rise even faster in the coming decades. Higher sea levels are potential threats to water infrastructure, to homes, to our drinking water supply, and to wetlands and coastal environments.

This month, the Atlantic and Gulf coasts will be seeing their highest tides of the year in a couple of weeks. These “king tides” can cause tidal flooding in coastal communities. King tides provide a glimpse of the future, and provide us with a glimpse of potential future impacts from rising sea levels, and how things could look if sea levels do not recede. The Middle Atlantic Center for Geography & Environmental Studies website shows where and when king tides are expected to happen.

You can help record king tides through photography. The King Tides International Network recently launched a photo contest to help record king tides from all over the world. You can also submit photos of king tides to EPA’s State of the Environment Photo Project. And, for more information about climate change adaptation please visit EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries program on the web.

About the author: Nancy Stoner is the Acting Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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King Tides and Sea Level Rise

Several links below exit EPA Exit EPA Disclaimer

By Michael Craghan

For years I lived in a little beach town at the Jersey Shore in Manasquan, N.J. I took these pictures of tidal flooding in 2007. I was interested in human/environmental interaction and found a great story right where I lived. Obviously people here live with water.

This gray house sits about one foot above the spring tide.  No worries for the tourists after a day at the beach

This gray house sits about one foot above the spring tide. No worries for the tourists after a day at the beach

The same house is at center.

The same house is at center.

Little did I realize that I would move to Washington, D.C., and be working with EPA’s Climate Ready Estuaries and the National Estuary programs at EPA and promoting “king tides” to raise awareness about sea level rise.

A king tide is simply the highest normally occurring tide of the year. What’s fascinating about king tides is that they provide a glimpse of the future. Potential sea level rise will make today’s king tides become the future’s everyday tides. You don’t have to imagine sea level rise because after about 1 foot of relative sea level rise, this neighborhood will flood like this almost every day.

When I was in New Jersey last December, I saw that this same house absorbed a lot of tidal flooding during Hurricane Sandy.

Flood height is shown by stains on the house and the helpful green line spray-painted on the window about five or six feet above the ground.

Flood height is shown by stains on the house and the helpful green line spray-painted on the window about five or six feet above the ground.

The flood line on the house shows how much water was here during Sandy.

The flood line on the house shows how much water was here during Sandy.

When I was back again last month, I found that the home had been demolished. I hope people take sea level rise into account as they redevelop, particularly since Fourth Avenue in Manasquan floods from the tides now.

On most of the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shorelines, 2013 king tides will be coming this month. See this website to learn when. If you are at the coast, I hope you get a chance to take photos at high tide and to think about what the future will be like when sea level is higher than it is now.

About the author: Michael Craghan is a geographer who works in EPA’s office of wetlands, oceans and watersheds. He manages the Climate Ready Estuaries program, which works to help coastal places plan for sustainable futures.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.