Sekich-Quinn: “Oftentimes the majority of people associate climate change with extreme weather, fires, urban heat centers. But at the end of the day, our oceans and coast are at the center of climate change.”

That’s Stefanie Sekich-Quinn of the Surfrider Foundation. She says surfers are intimately connected to the ocean, so they’re concerned about the sea-level rise, tide changes, and increasingly acidic waters caused by global warming.

And their sport is directly affected.

Sekich-Quinn: “Some reef breaks typically will produce better waves when the tide is low, so obviously with climate change and sea-level rise, we’re going to see higher tides. And when there is a reef that’s being drowned by additional water, that wave simply will not break the same.”

Research shows sea-level rise could threaten almost one-fifth of California’s surf spots. And that’s prompting many surfers to take action.

Some now use special surfing gear that records the water’s temperature, acidity levels, and other data for use in research.

Others are speaking out to demand political action on climate change.

Sekich-Quinn: “I think that surfers are serving a really unique role that brings awareness about climate change impacting our ocean and coasts.”

Reporting credit: Daisy Simmons/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Diana Madson contributed regularly to Yale Climate Connections from 2014 to 2021. She enjoys exploring U.S.-based stories about unexpected and innovative solutions to climate change. In addition to her...