Jan 02, 2014 04:31 PM EST
By Scott Bickard, UniversityHerald Reporter (s.bickard@universityherald.com)

King Tides Flood Some Areas Of California, Leave Others With Only Higher Waters, And Continue To Raise Awareness For Elevated Sea Levels

(Photo : Californiakingtides.org) Elevated sea levels during a King Tides episode in CaliforniaThe King Tides phenomenon, named for when the sun, earth, and moon line up in such a way that causes higher than normal tides, flooded some areas of California, while leaving others only with elevated sea levels.

Their presence in the United States is perhaps more significantly appreciated in California because of the state's long coast line, because the occurence affects the local surf (not always for the better; in Santa Cruz this year the effect created "beginner waves," according to the San Jose Mercury News), and because California has its own non-profit organization that uses the event to raise awareness for changing sea levels.

Huntington Beach experienced no flooding this year, about "five or six feet above normal" according to one resident's approximations, CBS Local reported. Sausalito in Northern California wasn't quite as luck; it experienced minor flooding in the streets and in parking lots, according to ABC Local.

The flooding isn't too big of a deal, considering King Tides are easily predictable and occur a few times every year. For Sausalito residents, it's no more of a nuisance than a mild east coast snow storm (kind of like the 6-10 inches expected to descend upon Long Island tonight), as long as you "go with the flow," one resident told ABC.

Of greater important than minor floods is the potential environmental gains achieved by studying the effect. The California King Tides Initiatives, as well as several others like it around the country and the world, ask participants to take photos during high tides to better understand how they affect the formation of the coast line and as a possible diagram of a future planet with elevated sea levels.

"These photographs help us visualize the impact of rising waters on the California coast," the California King Tides wrote on their site. "Our shores are constantly being altered by human and natural processes and projections indicate that sea level rise will exacerbate these changes. The images offer a living record of the changes to our coasts and shorelines and a glimpse of what our daily tides may look like in the future as a result of sea level rise."

All the world's oceans are susceptible to King Tides, but not all of them experience them to the same degree or at the same time. Australia, for instance, has its most significant episodes during the summer. The next one in the United States is projected for Jan 29 to Jan. 31.