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 on Dec. 21-23. The other two high-tide series the project will cover this winter take place on Jan. 19-21, and Feb. 18-20.

When King Tides occur during intense rain or storm events, the water level rise can cause flooding, erosion, and other impacts to infrastructure and property.

‘King Tide’ isn’t a scientific term, it describes a high tide event when the sun, moon, and earth are in alignment, causing greater than usual gravitational pull on the tides.

Project History

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/.

Shooting photos

Take care to shoot any photos from a safe vantage point. Don't take any risks. Keep a careful eye on the ocean and tides.

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.

Purpose

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 at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 17, at Arch Rock Brewing Company in Gold Beach; and at 5 p.m. on Jan 18, 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 yet to be announced.

For more information, contact CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Fawn Custer, at 541-270-0027, or at fawn@oregonshores.org. Also, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development's Coastal Shores Specialist Meg Reed at 541-574-0811, or meg.reed@state.or.us.

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