Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sea Level Rise = Situation Normal


This is the "world class" image of Takapuna Beach, North Shore. Only the odd seagull, kilometres of uninterrupted sand...

This picture of is from The Sands medium density housing development at the north end of Takapuna Beach. Still not so many walkers. In fact it's a very popular beach for locals and walkers alike...
I took most of the pictures that follow on Sunday 2nd February. Around 10:00am that day there was a king tide. The Sunday was the mid-point in a 3 day sequence of king tides....
The heightened sea level occupied the whole beach for an hour or so. People could still walk their dogs around the built edge of Takapuna Beach...

...walk their kids and buggies...

What needs to be noted is that if a low pressure weather pattern had coincided with this King Tide, and stronger easterly winds, the high tide level could have been more than 30 cms higher (deeper). Like 3 years ago.

....but it was quite a sight. Most people didn't know it was coming, so were surprised. People I spoke to told me they'd been coming for thirty years or more - to sunbathe and walk - and hadn't seen anything like it...
...like this guy, slightly disbelieving, what the f' ... canute-like....

...perplexed.  I was bit perplexed too. Got some outstanding questions. Yesterday I checked my favourite website for Auckland tides (marineweather) and it had indicated there would be a 2.6 metre height difference between low tide and high tide. Being a recreational fisher, I know that is the sign of a reasonably small tidal change. Certainly not a king tide.....
....a 2.6 metre tide wouldn't look quite like this, but a lot of beach would be free of sea. Not sure what was going on with those charts....apparently king tides are predictable. For reasonably definitive tide charts check out these tables. You can see there that for Sunday, 2nd Feb, the low tide height at Auckland was predicted at 0.09 metres, and the high tide level was predicted to be 3.64 metres at 10:08 am Sunday morning. This is equivalent to a tidal throw of 3.55 metres (sea level height difference between low and high tide sea levels). 

When I was hunting around for tidal information I came across this website.Specially organised around Auckland King Tides. Sponsors and supporters include Auckland Council, NIWA, Civil Defence and Emergency, Auckland War Memorial etc. They planned to be present at the Takapuna Boat Ramp. For the big event....

And sure enough.  There they were.  Apparently the high tide level for the king tide is about what predictions show will be normal for high tides in 2064 because of climate change. When most people who were looking would no longer be on this earth I guess.... The US EPA's fact sheet asks:   

WHY OBSERVE KING TIDES?
King tides provide a glimpse of future everyday water levels, and
they are a way to communicate local sea level rise impacts over
long time periods. Low-lying shoreline development is at increased risk of flooding because of rising seas, and public investments in infrastructure, housing, and habitat restoration projects are often expected to last for decades. Highlighting king tides in a community can raise awareness of potential sea level rise impacts and identify flood-prone locations. The increased understanding of how sea level rise will impact local resources is valuable information for community decisionmakers.


People were interested. But I wondered what the aim of the King Tide communications and campaign was. A couple of weeks ago, the cover story in the 16th January 2014 Listener Magazine, reported the research of American Psychologist Daniel Goleman. It was entitled: "Centre of Attention", and was about how modern day distractions affect our ability to focus and concentrate. (About his latest book: Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.) Well into the story we learn that Goleman's own focus is on climate change, and human psychology. He argues that human brains are not built to cope with threats that evolve slowly - like climate change. Our "fight or flight" responses don't kick in. That climate change is happening slowly enough for our brains to "normalise" it. He is researching ways that human intuitive response might be got round - by education and such like - but it's hard to escape the truth of his finding.

We act like frogs in slowly heating water. We don't jump out. Or do anything about it.
And when it's hot enough to kill us, we're past being able to do anything about it.

So I did wonder what the "KingTide" campaign was all about. Is the plan to help communities adjust to climate change, a type of social adaptation strategy, by normalising a king tide and thereby encourage people to accept it?
Coming to a place near you soon. Not much that can be done, nothing that you can do.

Get used to it.
An interesting moral challenge. 

2 comments:

Roger Matthews said...

I was just appalled at the general level of scientific illiteracy shown by the media (yes RNZ I am looking at you) on this topic!

Billy said...

Hey, very neat little story. Much the same in the UK, but recent 'Spring' tides have come with ferocious winds and huge waves which caused a lot of damage. The same winds bought a lot of rain too and the aquifers in the UK are at historic highs, low lying areas like the 'Somerset Levels' are under water, and there is nowhere for the surface water to go.
Who said 'The mind can absorb as much as the bum can endure'? Well, to go back to your observations Joel, in the UK people are suddenly taking climate change seriously. It was proposed on the main BBC news yesterday, that some inland areas of farmland may have to be let go because it's not actually possible to drain them any longer. We are getting used to coastal land being sacrificed as part of a programme of sea defenses but this is the first time the loss of inland areas has been considered. Not directly connected to rising sea levels, I know. But attitudes are beginning to change. . .

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Sea Level Rise = Situation Normal


This is the "world class" image of Takapuna Beach, North Shore. Only the odd seagull, kilometres of uninterrupted sand...

This picture of is from The Sands medium density housing development at the north end of Takapuna Beach. Still not so many walkers. In fact it's a very popular beach for locals and walkers alike...
I took most of the pictures that follow on Sunday 2nd February. Around 10:00am that day there was a king tide. The Sunday was the mid-point in a 3 day sequence of king tides....
The heightened sea level occupied the whole beach for an hour or so. People could still walk their dogs around the built edge of Takapuna Beach...

...walk their kids and buggies...

What needs to be noted is that if a low pressure weather pattern had coincided with this King Tide, and stronger easterly winds, the high tide level could have been more than 30 cms higher (deeper). Like 3 years ago.

....but it was quite a sight. Most people didn't know it was coming, so were surprised. People I spoke to told me they'd been coming for thirty years or more - to sunbathe and walk - and hadn't seen anything like it...
...like this guy, slightly disbelieving, what the f' ... canute-like....

...perplexed.  I was bit perplexed too. Got some outstanding questions. Yesterday I checked my favourite website for Auckland tides (marineweather) and it had indicated there would be a 2.6 metre height difference between low tide and high tide. Being a recreational fisher, I know that is the sign of a reasonably small tidal change. Certainly not a king tide.....
....a 2.6 metre tide wouldn't look quite like this, but a lot of beach would be free of sea. Not sure what was going on with those charts....apparently king tides are predictable. For reasonably definitive tide charts check out these tables. You can see there that for Sunday, 2nd Feb, the low tide height at Auckland was predicted at 0.09 metres, and the high tide level was predicted to be 3.64 metres at 10:08 am Sunday morning. This is equivalent to a tidal throw of 3.55 metres (sea level height difference between low and high tide sea levels). 

When I was hunting around for tidal information I came across this website.Specially organised around Auckland King Tides. Sponsors and supporters include Auckland Council, NIWA, Civil Defence and Emergency, Auckland War Memorial etc. They planned to be present at the Takapuna Boat Ramp. For the big event....

And sure enough.  There they were.  Apparently the high tide level for the king tide is about what predictions show will be normal for high tides in 2064 because of climate change. When most people who were looking would no longer be on this earth I guess.... The US EPA's fact sheet asks:   

WHY OBSERVE KING TIDES?
King tides provide a glimpse of future everyday water levels, and
they are a way to communicate local sea level rise impacts over
long time periods. Low-lying shoreline development is at increased risk of flooding because of rising seas, and public investments in infrastructure, housing, and habitat restoration projects are often expected to last for decades. Highlighting king tides in a community can raise awareness of potential sea level rise impacts and identify flood-prone locations. The increased understanding of how sea level rise will impact local resources is valuable information for community decisionmakers.


People were interested. But I wondered what the aim of the King Tide communications and campaign was. A couple of weeks ago, the cover story in the 16th January 2014 Listener Magazine, reported the research of American Psychologist Daniel Goleman. It was entitled: "Centre of Attention", and was about how modern day distractions affect our ability to focus and concentrate. (About his latest book: Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence.) Well into the story we learn that Goleman's own focus is on climate change, and human psychology. He argues that human brains are not built to cope with threats that evolve slowly - like climate change. Our "fight or flight" responses don't kick in. That climate change is happening slowly enough for our brains to "normalise" it. He is researching ways that human intuitive response might be got round - by education and such like - but it's hard to escape the truth of his finding.

We act like frogs in slowly heating water. We don't jump out. Or do anything about it.
And when it's hot enough to kill us, we're past being able to do anything about it.

So I did wonder what the "KingTide" campaign was all about. Is the plan to help communities adjust to climate change, a type of social adaptation strategy, by normalising a king tide and thereby encourage people to accept it?
Coming to a place near you soon. Not much that can be done, nothing that you can do.

Get used to it.
An interesting moral challenge. 

2 comments:

Roger Matthews said...

I was just appalled at the general level of scientific illiteracy shown by the media (yes RNZ I am looking at you) on this topic!

Billy said...

Hey, very neat little story. Much the same in the UK, but recent 'Spring' tides have come with ferocious winds and huge waves which caused a lot of damage. The same winds bought a lot of rain too and the aquifers in the UK are at historic highs, low lying areas like the 'Somerset Levels' are under water, and there is nowhere for the surface water to go.
Who said 'The mind can absorb as much as the bum can endure'? Well, to go back to your observations Joel, in the UK people are suddenly taking climate change seriously. It was proposed on the main BBC news yesterday, that some inland areas of farmland may have to be let go because it's not actually possible to drain them any longer. We are getting used to coastal land being sacrificed as part of a programme of sea defenses but this is the first time the loss of inland areas has been considered. Not directly connected to rising sea levels, I know. But attitudes are beginning to change. . .