By Emily Turner

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — As king tides roll into San Francisco, researchers are using them to understand future flood vulnerabilities of global rising sea levels.

Port of San Francisco project manager Steven Reel and his team are working to rebuild San Francisco’s seawall and say the king tides are a window to the future.

Reel said, “It gave us the opportunity to safely see where our current flood vulnerabilities are.”

Tuesday’s tides were 7.1 feet, the highest of the year and more than a foot higher than normal.

They are at a level that could be the new, permanent normal with climate change.

“We’re not prepared,” Reel said.

That’s why the city set aside $9 million for planning the seawall upgrade from Mission Creek to Fisherman’s Wharf.

First mate Percy Cordier works on the Bay, for Lovely Martha Sport Fishing, and says changes will need to be made as sea levels rise.

Cordier said, “Because of the way the wharf was set up and has been built, we’re pretty much protected. We’re okay for the time being. As future time come on, we might have a bit of a problem and an issue with it.”

King tides also allow him to test the waters for his job, come sea level rise.

“Higher water and big currents when king tides flow in, is really hard to control the boat,” he said.

Rough weather makes it doubly dangerous. Luckily for those on the water Tuesday, it was calm. But a storm, both literal and figurative, is headed our way, Reel says.

Reel said he’s working hard to make sure the city can withstand it.

“We are going to have to get very imaginative about the measures that we implement so that we can live with these rising tides, adapt with them over time and not disconnect ourselves from the bay front,” Reel said.

The project is still in the planning stages, so all the data they collect during king tides will go into the planning of the seawall project.

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