Winter's King Tide Project Underway

King tide washes against riprap north of Yachats.\Photo by Gail Pardi.
King tide washes against riprap north of Yachats.\Photo by Gail Pardi.

We've launched the annual King Tides Project for winter, 2019-2020.  The three sets of extreme high tides we'll be documenting are Nov. 25-27 (already past, of course), Jan. 10-12, and Feb. 8-10.

There is also a "bonus Christmas round" coming up Dec. 24-26.  The King Tides Project always focuses formally on the three highest tide sequences each winter.  In 2019-2020, there were four major high tide series, so we skipped the one conflicting with the holidays.  However, there will be some striking high tides on those days, interesting to observe if nothing else.  If you do escape the holiday uproar for some time outside during the peak tide period on any of those days, please do take photos and submit them to the King Tides Project--they will be included along with those taken during the three "official" rounds.

Through this long-running citizen science project, volunteer photographers document the reach of the highest tides to show current vulnerabilities to flooding and provide a preview of sea level rise.

This will be the 10th year that CoastWatch collaborates 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.) 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].