Volunteer photographers are invited to participate in the second 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. 3-5. (The first round of the project took place in November; the last series of tides to be photographed will rise Jan. 2-4, 2018.)
This is the eighth 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 the Surfrider Foundation, along with local co-sponsor the Haystack Rock Awareness Program on the north coast. The international project began in Australia, where the highest tides of the year are known as “king tides,” from whence their 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 these days, find a good location, 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/.
A number of events related to the project, which offer background information, instructions, and a chance to team up with other volunteers, are being offered in December and January at various coastal locations. See the King Tides website, or the CoastWatch site, https://oregonshores.org/coastwatch.
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.