High tides are back, offering a glimpse of a future with higher seas

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The royal tides, which are the highest tides of the year, return this week. And the researchers encourage residents to see them as a window to the future.

The phenomenon occurs when the gravitational pull caused by the alignment of the sun, moon, and Earth is stronger, or when the moon is at its closest point to Earth in its monthly orbit.

Katy Hintzen, a coastal resilience specialist at the University of Hawaii, says high tides are not caused by climate change. Instead, they give a glimpse of what people might experience with a future of sea level rise.

“Sea level rise and tidal flooding have large-scale implications for human communities and coastal ecosystems,” Hintzen said.

The tides are expected to peak Tuesday and Wednesday.

The royal tides will return on August 10 and 11.

This week they should be a little lower than usual, with tides predicted to be around 2 to 3 feet across the islands, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The forecast does not take into account other factors such as weather, wind or swell, Hintzen said.

“If you have sea level rise on top of these regularly occurring king tides, those impacts will just be amplified and extended,” Hintzen said.

She advises swimmers to be careful during this time, but also to take photos from a distance for Sea Grant’s King Tides project.

“It’s really helpful for us in terms of understanding the future implications of sea level rise and impacts on local coastlines,” Hintzen said. “And they’re used in all kinds of political and scientific decisions.”

To upload your photos or learn more about the King Tides project, click here.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.

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