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King Tides This Weekend

The term ‘king tide’ is a non-scientific term that refers to the highest winter tides that occur each year. These extreme high tides occur when the moon’s orbit comes closest to the earth, the earth’s orbit is closest to the sun, and the sun, moon and earth are in direct alignment, thereby increasing their gravitational influence on the tides. The dates for the coming winter season are this weekend November 5-7, 2021; December 5-7, 2021; and January 1-3, 2022. For the area around Depoe Bay there will be a high tide at around 1pm at 9.95 feet. Those who are watching the high tides are advised to do so carefully and NEVER turn your back on the ocean and be watchful of sneaker waves.

Sea level is predicted to rise over the next century. Several areas of the Oregon coast are already vulnerable to high water levels because of their low elevations and proximity to the shoreline. Rising sea levels means increased erosion and more frequent and expanded flooding in the future. An infrequent event today could become normal in the future. Understanding and documenting the extent and impacts of especially high tide events is one way to highlight the need to prepare for the effects of future climate conditions.

The King Tides Project generates information that coastal communities can use to reduce vulnerabilities to rising sea levels. 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.

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.

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