Little Or No Sea Level Change At La Jolla, California Since 1871

High tide sea level at La Jolla, California is essentially the same as it was in 1871.

1871    Present

This is one of my favorite beaches. I had lunch there with Dr. Bill Gray a few months before he passed away.

At low tide, the beach looks like this.

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24 Responses to Little Or No Sea Level Change At La Jolla, California Since 1871

  1. Craig says:

    Hi. Your 1871 link goes to “page not found”. That is a neat time change you show.

  2. Kris Johanson says:

    Yep, that’s a mile from my house. Multi-million beach front houses in La Jolla are still being built just barely above the high tide mark, the prices keep going up, no plans are underway for changing the building codes or increasing the set-backs, no one’s back yard is flooding, a private company just built a $1 billion desalination plant barely 10-ft above sea level – in summary the water level hasn’t changed one iota in the 30 years I’ve been jogging and surfing on that coastline, and no one around here even gives it a thought unless they’re paranoid to the point of delusion. That’s just my opinion of course…

  3. Perry says:

    La Jolla has a two meter tide. Where the photos taken in the same tide phase? I’d like to see a comparison over the years of the level to which the high tides reached. That, to me, would be more meaningful. Or, let’s compare the highest tides at La Jolla over the last 140 years.

    • Jason Calley says:

      There may be some change over the last century, but nothing unusual.
      That is less than nine inches in 100 years. Not much of a catastrophe.

      “Help! My house will be swept away in only a thousand years!” :)

      • Frank K. says:

        That reminds me of an old joke…

        An astronomer was giving a talk to the public, and mentioned in one of his slides that most scientists believed that our sun was going to be extinguished in about 4 billion years. After the talk, an older woman with a worried expression on her face approached the astronomer at the podium. “Excuse me sir…how long will it be before the sun is extinguished?” The astronomer replied “Oh, about 4 billion years.” “Whew!!” the lady gasped. “I thought you said 4 million years!”

      • Perry says:

        Thanks. This makes my tide phase comment irrelevant.

        • Jason Calley says:

          For what it is worth, I had the same thought when I saw the pictures, “what about the tide? Is it the same in both pictures?”

          Great minds and all that… :)

    • Gail Combs says:

      I would be a heck of a lot more worried about that fault lying just off the coast than a few fingernail widths of ‘sea level rise’.

      California’s north coast is one of the state’s most seismically active areas, regularly producing major earthquakes. The north coast sits along the Mendocino Triple Junction, where the Pacific, North American and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates collide. The Cascadia fault system sits about 100 miles off shore. That subduction zone is believed to have caused a 9.0 earthquake in 1700, the largest known quake ever to have hit the lower 48 states. It poses a greater mega quake risk than the San Andreas. A group studying the region released a study of the potential damage of such a quake hitting now. link

      “The earthquake that many scientists and emergency planners anticipate is modeled on the zone’s last major quake: the entire fault zone ruptures from end to end, causing one great earthquake measuring magnitude 9.0,” reads the CREW study. “The ground is expected to go on shaking for four to six minutes… Once it hits shore, a single tsunami wave can take as much as an hour to finish flowing in. The height of the wave and how far inland it travels will vary with location: In places along Cascadia’s coast, the tsunami may be as high as 30–40 feet,” reads the report.

      • Kris Johanson says:

        Hey, you’re describing that earthquake and 40-ft tsunami with a little too much enthusiasm!

        • Gail Combs says:

          The earthquake and 40-ft tsunami is Nature’s way of getting rid of the lice and Moonbeans and other vermin infecting the left coast. With luck Al the Gorical will be at his seaside Montecito CA villa and Leonardo DiCaprio at his Malibu beachfront home at the time.

          Just think, scientists think there is a good possibility we will be seeing that earthquake soon.

    • Lee says:

      Well, if the current picture was taken at high tide, the only way the 1871 picture could be anything BUT high tide would be if sea levels have fallen since then. If the picture wasn’t taken at high tide, the water level at some time during the day would be higher than in the picture, and thus higher than today’s high tides. We know that’s not the case, so I’d say both pictures were taken at high tide.

      If we know the date the picture was taken you could look at a tide chart and see if it was an unusually high spring tide. It’s possible that the 1871 picture was recording an unusually high tide, and that sea levels have risen so that now that same tide is an everyday tide.

  4. slp says:

    This is high tide in 2010:

  5. Kris Johanson says:

    Scripps Institute of Oceanography which is a mile north of this La Jolla beach is a hotbed of global warming research. I don’t see them reinforcing/modifying their pier which stretches way out, in anticipation of some impending sea level rise

    All sorts of big projects are being planned and built along this coastline.
    1. The International Building Code, and thus the Calif. Building Code which is almost completely lifted from the IBC, contains no provisions for major sea level rise
    2. Insurance flood maps don’t either
    3. To build a major project, you need to borrow money. To borrow money for a project, you need Insurance in many forms. The Insurance industry to a large extent drives the Building Codes and Flood Maps.
    4. People are still lending 30-year money and insuring big, coastal projects. If sea levels were rising significantly, you couldn’t get a mortgage on these extremely expensive beach homes, and the whole infrastructure would be in disarray – from sewage outfalls, to bridges/piers, airport projects, football stadiums, etc.

  6. RAH says:

    I was living close to there when I enlisted. Lived in an apartment east of I-5 over looking the Interstate and could see the hang gliders working the updrafts off the cliffs of Torrey Pines. The selection and training area for the US Navy SEALS is not far south of there on Coronado island. That is also where they select and train ocean life guards.

    While there living off my savings I would go down to the beach and take long swims. One morning I swam way out so far that I could just see the tops of the pine trees on the top of the cliff at the park. It was then I had an epiphany. I was bumped by something and it got my undivided attention. Turned out I had a pod of dolphins around me and they stayed close. I got their message. They were telling me to get out of there because I was in danger. Don’t ask me how I knew that was the message; I just did, and it was unmistakable. I swam in with that pod of dolphins escorting me the whole way. One of those things a person never forgets.

    • Jason Calley says:

      Glad you listened to them, RAH. I suspect they were correct!

      • RAH says:

        There was and still is no doubt in my mind they were protecting me. After the bump I of course stopped swimming and treaded water and a couple of them passed close enough swimming on their side so there was eye contact. That’s when I figured out what was going on. There were no more bumps as I swam back in but they stayed close all around me right up to where I could stand on the bottom. Then they were gone. I was done swimming for the day.

  7. Greg says:

    Do you at least have a date ( day not just year ) for the 1871 photo?


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