Snapshots of a Rising Sea

Staff scientist Dana Murray reports on a photo contest to crown the king of King Tides.

How can we get everyday people thinking about the impacts of climate change? How can we illustrate that we’re not talking about some far-off problem that we don’t have to solve for 20 years? As we’ve seen with super storms in recent times, perhaps we’re not that far off, but communicating the risks of sea level rise can still be a challenge. Impacts are often difficult to see or visualize, and with a plethora of scientific jargon, modeling predictions, and maps being thrown at us, it is often difficult to understand real-life impacts of climate change, and the slow-burn of rising sea levels.

One of the unique opportunities nature has provided us is through extreme “king” tides. These tides happen most drastically in the winter when the sun and moon align to exert the greatest gravitational pull on earth, and result in experiencing the most extreme high and low tides of the year. In California, experts say that the annual king tide today is what we can expect our daily high tide to look like in 35 years. Especially when paired with a winter storm, King Tides are a glimpse of how sea level rise will impact our communities.

To capitalize on these illustrative events, we’re calling for all photographers to get out and participate in digital storytelling by photo-documenting the impacts of these extreme high tides. The pictures you take could help communities understand flood risk and explore adaptation options. They also can help build a local catalogue of at-risk places and people.

There’s a great contest in Los Angeles you can enter your photographs of King Tides into, and win cool prizes through the Urban Tides Photo & Video Contest.

Go to the Urban Tides Photo & Video Contest webpage for more info from USC Sea Grant on King Tide documentation. Be sure to scroll down and check out the tide chart, photo tips, and most importantly the safety tips.

Additionally, the website provides lesson plan information for educators.

Urban Tides Photo & Video Contest