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King Tides Apply Pressure To San Diego Coastline

An aerial view of the King Tides near Bird Rock and La Jolla, De. 4, 2017.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: An aerial view of the King Tides near Bird Rock and La Jolla, De. 4, 2017.

San Diego got a peek at the future Monday of rising ocean levels thanks to the yearly phenomenon known as King tides.

Coastal tides typically hit a yearly peak in San Diego each winter and those high ocean levels foretell what’s coming as the climate warms.

A Monday morning flyover of the region’s coast revealed that the high water levels are having a variety of impacts. People who live, work, or play there need to become comfortable with the idea that change is coming along the coast. The King tides offer that insight.

“What infrastructure will be in harm’s way, whether its 50 years or 100 years down the road?” asked Stefanie Sekich-Quinn, of the Surfrider Foundation.

It is easy to see how higher ocean levels pushed up against the coast, Sekich-Quinn said.

The plane passed over the Tijuana River mouth which was much wider than normal. Marshland that normally dominates the estuary’s valley was swollen with water as the rising ocean waters applied pressure.

The water also assaulted the cliffs further north, Sekich-Quinn said.

“When you looked at the area off of La Jolla it’s a very dynamic area for the coastline and we really got to see what the inundation of those king tides was. Especially juxtaposed with all of that infrastructure,” Sekich-Quinn said.

Carlsbad City Council Member Cori Schumacher was also on the small plane for the coastal survey. She noticed how the high sea levels affected areas differently.

Schumacher said natural areas seemed to cope better than the places where people have built up the shoreline.

Dealing with the physical impacts of rising ocean levels may be easier to accomplish than dealing with the people who are affected, Schumaker said.

“As we move forward and try to manage this, the key component of it is the relationship that we have with our landowners and planning forward and ensuring that we’re working together for the best positive outcome because we can’t stop the ocean,” Schumacher said.

Scientists predict sea levels will rise about three feet by 2050.

San Diego got a peek at the future Monday of rising ocean levels thanks to the yearly phenomenon known as King tides.

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