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King Tides Will Engulf Beaches

The extreme high tides this week offer a glimpse into what rising ocean levels could look like in the future.

"High tide" will really live up to its name this week, when the year's biggest tides pound the California coastline.

High tides will reach 7 feet above the average low tide in San Clemente during the King Tide phenomena Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

“King Tides” are high tides that occur when the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon are in alignment, according to the California King Tides Initiative, an crowd-sourcing effort to document the high sea levels. The tides happen about once a month, but the larger events typically occur in the winter when there is storm activity. High tides through Friday are the biggest of 2012.

In San Clemente, high tides will reach 7 feet at about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday; 7 feet at about 7 a.m. Thursday; and 7 feet again at about 7:15 a.m. Friday before the daily high tide starts to shrink, according to NOAA.

The California King Tides Initiative encourages people to take and submit photos of the high water levels, especially against iconic backdrops such as bridges or seawalls. Researchers can then use the photos to track water levels and changes over time. The Initiative collected photos last winter as well.

The photos provide a sneak peak into what rising sea levels could look like in California, an area that could experience up to a 2-foot increase by 2050, according to the Sea Level Rise Report from the National Academy of Science.

Researchers told the Mercury News the live views of higher sea levels are an educational opportunity for the general public.

"It's not just a model," Gary Griggs, director of the Institute of Marine Sciences at UC Santa Cruz, said in the Mercury News.

King Tides also bring extreme low tides, so enjoy afternoons with lots of exposed beach—perfect for tide pooling and beach combing.

To upload photos to the California King Tides Initiative Flickr group, go here. Share you photos on Patch also. Just click the green camera icon below the YouTube video.

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