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Record-breaking Sea Levels and El Niño Resources

The Ocean Protection Council’s website includes resources on El Niño, including on the issue of elevated sea levels from El Niño and unusually warm ocean conditions. See the California Ocean Protection Council website on El Niño for more information, including a science summary on this issue of elevated sea levels, which includes graphs showing how sea levels were elevated for extended periods during past strong El Niños, reaching levels similar to projections for mid-century sea level rise.

See www.storms.ca.gov for information on preparedness for storm impacts during this strong El Niño and a memo by OPC staff under “Lead Stories” on record-breaking sea levels and urgency to take action on climate change. The highest sea levels ever observed at the San Diego, La Jolla and Santa Barbara tide stations were documented on November 25, 2015 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the King Tides. Due to El Niño and the unusually warm ocean conditions off of California, sea levels have been elevated, causing the King Tides (highest predicted tides caused by alignment of earth, moon and sun) to be extra high this winter, resulting in “Tall Kings”. With these elevated water levels and storm conditions in Southern California last week occurring during the Tall Kings, the sea levels reached heights never before recorded in the history of these tide stations. The San Diego tide station has been recording sea levels since 1906; La Jolla since 1924 and Santa Barbara since 1974. NOAA tide stations for Southern California are currently documenting sea levels about a half foot higher than predicted.

The OPC and Scripps organized a workshop on September 22, 2105 on “Changing Ocean Conditions: Understanding El Nino’s Impacts on California’s Living Marine Resources Through Ocean Observations”. The workshop summary is also posted on the OPC’s El Nino website.

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