The final round of the current winter’s King Tide Project is coming up Feb. 18-20. Volunteer photographers are invited to assist in this citizen science project by taking photos that document the highest reach of the year’s highest tides. The project takes place throughout Oregon’s coastal region.
Tracing these extreme tides provides information about the interactions of sea and shore, and can reveal places where infrastructure is vulnerable to flooding. Looking further ahead, photos compiled by this long-term effort provide a preview of coming sea level rise and its impacts.
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 (the timing of which varies, depending on location), find a good spot 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. (Photographers who participated in past years are urged to return to the locations from which they took earlier King Tide photos so as to track the tides in that location over time. Photographers are also urged to return to the same locations to 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/.
For more information, contact Fawn Custer, CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, at (541) 270-0027, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Meg Reed, Coastal Shores Specialist with the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, (541) 574-0811, email@example.com.