The most recent U.S. Sea-Level Report Card from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science shows the pace of sea-level rise is accelerating. Of the 32 included tide-gauge stations along the U.S. coastline, 25 showed water levels rising at a faster rate in 2019 than in 2018.
Given that 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in or near coastal areas, adaptation planning for coastal resilience can't wait. So how do we spur action?
We often think our task, as proponents of climate action, is to convince others that climate change is happening. "If only they knew," we think, "they would take action." But that's clearly not the case as a majority of people across the nation acknowledge that climate change is happening. This means that what we really need to focus on is convincing people that climate change will affect them personally — and that there's something they can do about it!
The King Tide Project is a great example of doing just that. Through this international project, tourists, nature lovers and amateur scientists alike are using their cameras to document the effects of extreme high tides (or "king tides") on shorelines from the United States to New Zealand. These photos empower us to better understand what rising sea levels mean for coastal communities.
King tides occur about twice annually, when the sun and moon align to enhance the gravitational pull that produces normal daily tides. Over the weekend, citizen scientists along our West Coast were hard at work documenting the most recent king tide.
King Tide Projects are popping up across the country with efforts in Virginia, North Carolina, California and Oregon, to name a few. Though organized by different entities, each has the same goal: to educate the public and provide a clear-eyed assessment of how climate change will affect everyday life, from flooded intersections, to cows grazing in knee-high salt water, to popular beaches swallowed by waves. Some efforts are going all out! In Virginia, the nonprofit Wetlands Watch developed a smartphone app to crowdsource flooding information. And its annual event, Catch the King, landed them a Guinness World Record for most contributions to an environmental survey.
Find a King Tide Project near you by visiting http://kingtides.net/participate/join-a-project/.