Dec 052018
 

King Tide
Nestucca area
John Bauer photo

Volunteer photographers are invited to participate in the first round of this winter’s King Tide Project, which documents the highest reach of the year’s highest tides. The current focus is on the set of extreme high tides—known as “king tides”—arriving Dec. 21-23. (The other two high-tide series the project will cover this winter take place January 19-21, and February 18-20, 2019.)

To kick things off, a “King Tide Preview” party will be held in Newport at the Rogue Brewer’s on the Bay (2320 OSU Dr.), beginning at 5:30 p.m. (doors open at 5) on Friday, Dec. 14. The public is invited to attend the free event and learn more about the project and the way sea level rise will affect Oregon’s shoreline in the future.

Speakers at the event will include Sally Hacker, a professor in Oregon State University’s Department of Integrative Biology. Dr. Hacker will discuss the interaction of dunes and the ocean, how the sea fertilizes dunes through the deposition of wrack, and how this relationship may be affected by the sea level rise, more intense storms and increased erosion anticipated with global warming. Also speaking will be Steve Dundas, an economist also based at Oregon State University, who is studying the economic implications of shoreline management and shoreline protection. Appetizers will be offered; additional food and drink area available from the Rogue.

This is the ninth year that Oregon has participated in this international citizen science effort. The project is sponsored by the CoastWatch Program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition, the Oregon Coastal Management Program of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, and local partners including the Surfrider Foundation, Shoreline Education for Awareness (SEA), South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Coos Watersheds Association, Curry Watersheds Association, Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve, Friends of Netarts, and Haystack Rock Awareness Program, among others.

The international project began in Australia, where the highest tides of the year are known as “king tides,” whence the name. These tides arrive when the sun, moon, and earth are in alignment, causing a stronger-than-usual gravitational pull.

Anyone with a camera can participate. At high tide on any of the three project days, find a good location to observe the tide in relation to the land, snap photos, and post them online. More information on the project, a link to tide tables, and instructions for posting photos, can be found on the website, http://www.oregonkingtides.net/.

King Tide photos can be taken anywhere affected by tides, whether on the outer shoreline, in estuaries, or along lower river floodplains. Photos showing high water in relation to infrastructure (roads, bridges, seawalls, and the like) can be particularly striking, and reveal where flooding problems threaten. But shots of marshes or other habitats being inundated, or coastal shorelines subject to flooding and erosion, are also useful. The goal of this long-term citizen science project is to document the highest reach of the tides on an ongoing basis, for comparative study over a period of many years. (Participating photographers are urged to return to the locations from which they took King Tide photos and take comparison shots at ordinary high tide.)

While the King Tide Project can help to identify areas that are currently threatened by flooding, the more important purpose is to gain a preview of sea level rise. The king tides, while extreme today, will become the “new normal” as sea level continues to rise, and storm surges increase, due to global warming. Gaining a glimpse of tidal inundation likely to become common decades into the future will benefit planners, resource agencies, conservationists, and coastal citizens in preparing for these changes.

Photographs from past years of the King Tide Project can be viewed on the project’s Flickr site: https://www.flickr.com/people/orkingtide/

King Tide preview parties will also be held on the south coast prior to the second high tide series: Jan. 17, 5:30 p.m., at Arch Rock Brewing Company in Gold Beach; and Jan. 18, 5 p.m., at the Charleston Marine Life Center in Charleston. More information about these events can be found on the CoastWatch website, https://oregonshores.org/coastwatch. Events will be held on the north coast prior to the project’s third round, but are TBA.

For more information, contact Fawn Custer, CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, at (541) 270-0027, fawn@oregonshores.org, or Meg Reed, Coastal Shores Specialist with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, (541) 574-0811,

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