It’s December 8th and Vancouver is experiencing a King Tide — as the sun and moon’s gravitational forces come together to create some of the highest tides of the year. It’s also a preview of what we can expect if global temperatures, and sea levels, continue to rise. To better understand the future implications, the City of Vancouver has people taking pictures… in the name of science.
“So people are taking photos of the shoreline and they’re uploading to Vancouver.ca/King Tides,” explains Angela Danyluk, Sustainability Specialist for the City of Vancouver. “And what they’re doing is they’re putting them onto the map and referencing the time, the date and location, and then we’re going to use that information to show people what our community could look like in the future, say 2100, with 1 metre of sea level rise.”
Present-Day High Tide Pics a Snapshot of Tomorrow’s New Normal
“People don’t see or realize exactly how much Vancouver, specifically, can be affected.” says Ashley van der Pouw Kraan, BC Green Games Program Specialist with Science World British Columbia. “I think projects like this that involves public and community sciences and scientists are really important because they get people to care about their local areas and to become passionate about what’s happening there and how they can help those areas.”
One Metre Increase Equals Disruption to Economy, Community, Environment
While calm weather on this day reduces the severity of the King tide, storm surges in recent years offer a preview of the impact climate change could have on local shorelines.
Celina Starnes is the Public Education and Outreach Manager for the Stanley Park Ecology Society.
“We’re very excited to be one of the partners in this. We want to keep an eye on sea level rise. It’ll affect things like the Nature House, but more importantly it’s going to affect the ecology.”
“Lost Lagoon is a lagoon only in name now. So when the causeway was put in the tidal feature making it an actual lagoon open to the ocean stopped functioning, so now it’s technically a lake. It’s a fresh water body, but with sea level rise, if we get that metre of sea level rise, this will become ocean water again. All the animals that depend on this fresh water, they won’t have access to fresh water here anymore.”
King Tide an Unwelcome Preview in False Creek
For businesses like False Creek Ferries, sea level rise is already impacting their operations, and providing a snapshot of an unwelcome future.
“We’ve been here since ’82,” says operations manager Jeremy Patterson, “And so it was very occasional when I started working here and not as dramatic back 25 years ago. Now we’re seeing it on a regular basis and every December, so we’re out of service for half an hour because our patrons can’t access our ferry dock, they get wet feet walking down the jetty.”
Vancouver Bracing for One Metre Rise by 2100
Cities across the region are responding to our changing climate. In the City of Vancouver, adaptation is part of their planning and building process.
“So we’re planning at this City for the 1 metre of sea level rise by 2100,” says Danyluk. “One metre of sea level rise will really change the way we interact with the shoreline. It can really disrupt our community, our economy, and our environment.”
Visit the Metro Vancouver Video Gallery for more videos on regional topics.