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‘King tides’ of today to be norm in the future

NAPPAN – Tide levels considered unusually high for today are expected to be the norm in the coming years, explained Cumberland County’s Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) co-ordinator.

Mike Johnson was keeping his eye on the rising tide at an aboiteau in Nappan, and was astonished at how quickly it was coming up.

“I’m just watching to see what it is, and looking at the rising sea level,” he said. “This could be the ruler to indicate what we could be expecting 100 years from now as a normal tide.”

Johnson was not the only one watching the tides this week. In fact, many people around Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the states of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts were taking part in the Gulf of Maine King Tides Photo Contest to document how the astronomical high tide – caused by the lining up of the moon and the sun – was affecting wharves, beaches and other coastal settings.

The contest, of which Nova Scotia’s Ecology Action Centre was an organizing partner, was part of the international King Tides Project, an international effort to help people envision a world with markedly higher sea levels.

“Sea-level rise is not in some far-off future. It’s here and we’re seeing the effects particularly on the perigean spring tides—when sun and moon align to cause exceptionally high tides,” said Marina Schauffler, Climate Network co-ordinator for the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. “These ‘King Tides’ give us a preview of heights that typical tides will likely reach in coming years.”

The Nappan aboiteau was one of several local sites that were prime spots for monitoring the tide levels, according to Johnson, who said other locations in Maccan, Parrsboro and along the New Brunswick coast were also being watched.

For him, the goal was to document the rise, and gain a better understanding not only of what normal tides of the future will look like, but what those extra-high tides will look like.

“If they’re saying in 100 years time this is where the tide normally could be, then if we take an astronomically high tide… and a storm surge, and add it on top of this tide, then in 100 years’ time that’s what we’re looking at for a high tide,” he explained.

Johnson has been visiting coastal communities for the past year, both as EMO co-ordinator and prior to that as a Red Cross volunteer, to help residents with emergency preparedness.

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Twitter: @ADNandrew

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