King Tides on Friday, Jan. 10 attracted about 30 wave-watchers to The Strand in Manhattan Beach that morning for the Urban Tides Beach Walk, the first in this city.
The event supports the California Coastal Commission's California King Tides Project, an initiative that allows people to visualize future sea level by observing the current highest tides, taking and sharing photos of them. The commission adds photos taken and uploaded by the public to its 2020 California King Tides Map to create a comprehensive record of coastal change and sea level rise, according to the organization's website.
The extreme high tides rose until Sunday, Jan. 12, and are coming back Feb. 8 and 9, said Linda Chilton, education programs manager for USC Sea Grant, the organization that partnered with Manhattan Beach for the event. King Tides are usually prevalent in fall and winter, Chilton added, and are correlated with the moon’s phases and its alignment with the earth and sun.
The King Tide on Saturday, Jan. 11, came 50 minutes later than Friday's, Chilton said, because of earth's rotation.
USC Sea Grant is a group of marine science, coastal planning and climate change experts from USC staff committed to solving problems in the urban ocean while prioritizing coastal commerce and quality of life, per its website. It launched the Urban Tides effort in 2015 to document changing coastal conditions like tidal lines, beach erosion and coastal flooding.
“The extreme high tides today will be the regular tides of tomorrow,” Chilton said by phone after the walk. “Water levels are getting higher on our beach,” she added.
That’s why Chilton said the tide observances are important for the public.
USC Sea Grant wants to “train everyone to capture images at the extreme high tide line to show how the water level’s changing,” said Chilton, who grew up in Manhattan Beach. “By involving the community, we have more eyes on the coast, which helps us communicate what the future regular high tides will be” and prepare for the sea rise.
“We work with municipal leaders who are very much in the forefront of creating adaptation and local coastal plans,” Chilton said, adding that informed citizens can better let their representatives know what environmental issues matter to them.
USC Sea Grant has hosted Urban Tide Beach Walks for five years, Chilton said, but Friday’s event was the first of many to come in Manhattan Beach, per attendees' requests.
"Folks are asking if we could do (the tide walk) during regular tides so they can see the difference" between normal and extremely high tides, Chilton said.
USC Sea Grant may come back in February to Manhattan Beach to help the public observe next month's King Tides.
USC Sea Grant is also part of the California State Coastal Conservancy's Manhattan Beach Dune Restoration project, Chilton said, for which the conservancy recently approved funding for.
Manhattan Beach's end of that deal, Chilton said, includes replacing the non-native sea figs, or ice plants, on the beach side of bike path in El Porto with native dune plants. The succulents currently there take water from and push out native plants, she added, making the habitat less beneficial to other organisms.
Chilton said the dune plants will be more stable.