King Tides Project Rises Again

King tide assaults the Hwy 101 seawall at Waldport.\Photo by Roy Lowe.

The King Tides Project is on the cusp its 12th year.  This citizen science effort, organized by CoastWatch and the Oregon Coastal Management Program, last winter drew the submission of more than 400 photos, documenting the highest reach of the year's highest tides.

We're on the verge of the 2021-2022 edition.  The dates for the coming winter season are November 5-7, 2021; December 3-5, 2021; and January 1-3, 2022.  Those are next winter's three highest tide sequences.

See the website calendar for special King Tides Project events, including a presentation by Jesse Jones, CoastWatch's volunteer coordinator, on Oct. 28, and a webinar presented by Marina Psaros, one of the founders of the international project, on Nov. 3.

You don't need to wait for these high tide sequences to participate, however. The project is placing new emphasis on comparison shots--photos taken from the same spot at the high point of a comparatively normal high tide, to be contrasted with the same view at the high point of a king tide.  Volunteer photographers are encouraged to start now in finding good locations (or ones they've used before) and taking photos during typical tide sequences, anticipating the comparisons to be made with this year's coming peak tides.  (Note that the comparison is high tide to high tide, not low tide to high tide.  If you do take such comparison shots, hang onto them until you take photos during the king tide sequences--and submit them together.)

Some of last winter's photos can be seen on the project's special Flickr site, and we will soon be adding more and providing more information about them.  Last year, volunteer photographers Rena Olson and Alex Derr were provided with a Lighthawk flight to photograph the effects of the king tide on the Siuslaw and Alsea drainages from the air, and we are sharing those photos as well.

For the past decade-plus, CoastWatch has collaborated with the state's Coastal Management Program (a branch of the Department of Land Conservation and Development) to sponsor Oregon’s contribution to this international citizen science initiative.  (The project originated in Australia, where these highest tides of the year are known as “king tides,” so the term is now used for the project around the world.) We helped to pioneer the concept; the Oregon project debuted in the same year as the international effort.  Through the King Tides Project, photographers trace the reach of the year’s highest tides, showing the intersection of the ocean with both human-built infrastructure (roads, seawalls, trails, bridges) and natural features such as cliffs and wetlands.  Anyone capable of wielding a camera can participate.

To see the work of the dozens of volunteer photographers who contributed to the work during the past winter's project, and from previous years as well, see this special Flickr site.

Documenting the highest annual reach of the tides tells us something about areas of the natural and built environments which are subject to erosion and flooding now. It tells us even more about what to expect as sea level rises. Photographs of any tidally affected area—outer shores, estuary, or lower river—are relevant.  The ideal would be to document the high-tide point everywhere on the coast.  However, photos of spots where the extreme tidal reach is particularly apparent, inundating built or natural features, are most striking, and most clearly depict the future effects of sea level rise.

For more information on the project and how to participate and post photos see the project’s website, http://www.oregonkingtides.net/.  Participants can post photographs online through this site. Be prepared to include the date, description and direction of the photo. An interactive map is available that will assist photographers in determining the exact latitude and longitude at which a photo was taken.   Photos can also be posted to social media (Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter) and tagged #orkingtides.

For information about the project and how to get involved, contact Jesse Jones, CoastWatch's volunteer coordinator, at (503) 989-7244, [email protected].