“By 2050, this will be normal,” said Aldaron Laird, standing near the top of an Arcata wastewater treatment pond levee as waves broke at his feet.
A small group had trekked out to the Rising Tides Bench during a nine-foot King Tide on Dec. 13 for a discussion of sea level rise, its imminence and consequences.
While the bay’s present borders can more or less withstand today’s King Tides – also known as perigean spring tides, which coincide with maximum gravitational pull by the moon and sun – that won’t be the case when they ride in on top of tomorrow’s raised sea levels. At that point, seawater would overtop current levees and inundate coastal areas, including homes, farms, businesses and critical public infrastructure.
The higher sea levels are not an “if,” they’re a “when.” What we don’t know is exactly when.