Final round of King Tides Project will be Jan. 11-13

The final round for the 2020-21 edition of the Oregon King Tides Project is coming up Jan. 11-13. This photo was taken during a king tide at Smelt Sands State Wayside in Yachats. (Photo by Rena Olson)

This winter’s final series of “king tides” is coming up Jan. 11-13, which means this will be the final round for the 2020-21 edition of the Oregon King Tides Project. Every winter for the past decade, a growing army of volunteer photographers has documented the highest point reached by these highest of tides.

The camera-wielding volunteers are participating in the King Tides Project, the Oregon branch of an international grassroots effort to document coastal areas flooded by the highest winter tides. Here in Oregon, the King Tides Project has been developed and coordinated by the CoastWatch Program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and the Oregon Coastal Management Program, a branch of the Department of Land Conservation and Development. From modest beginnings in 2010, the project has grown to the point that more than 100 volunteer photographers contributed in excess of 400 photos to the project’s archives last winter. Anyone with a camera or cellphone can participate.

The first two king tides have passed, but volunteers are needed for the third round, beginning on Monday, Jan. 11, and extending through Wednesday, Jan 13. The exact time of the tidal peak will change each day and will vary with location — on Monday, it will take place near 10 a.m. on the central coast. For information about how to find tide tables and much else about the project, go to the website, www.oregonkingtides.net. 

An online warm-up session for the final round of the project is coming up on Thursday, Jan. 7, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. CoastWatch and the Oregon Coastal Management Program will host a panel discussion featuring geomorphologist Peter Ruggiero, coastal ecologist Sally Hacker and economist Steve Dundas. Their topic is “Optimizing the ecosystem services of Pacific Northwest Coastal Beaches and Dunes.” For more information or to register, go https://oregonshores.org/events/talks-climate-beaches-and-dunes. 

Thus far this winter, some 60 photographers have documented the first two rounds of high tides with more than 200 photographs. But much more need to be done to provide visual evidence of the reach of high tides along the entire Oregon coast.  To see priority areas where there are gaps in coverage, to go to https://www.oregonkingtides.net/participate and scroll down to “Where.” 

The goal of this citizen science project is to help track sea level rise over time and reveal its impacts on the Oregon coast.  Photographers are also encouraged to take photos at average high tides from the identical vantage points of their king tides shots, for purposes of comparison. The hundreds of photos they take reveal current vulnerabilities to flooding and help to visualize and understand the coming impacts of sea level rise (such as flooding and erosion) to coastal communities. 

Anyone can participate by taking a photo during the peak period of a king tide, anywhere on the outer coast or along estuaries or lower river valleys. Photos that show the highest stand of the tide with reference to a man-made structure or natural feature reveal the reach of the tide most clearly. Participants then submit their photos through the project website (www.oregonkingtides.net). 

For more information, contact Meg Reed, coastal shores specialist with the OCMP program, 541-514-0091, [email protected]; or Jesse Jones, CoastWatch volunteer coordinator, 503-989-7244, [email protected]gonshores.org.

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