King Tides Project Wraps Up for the Winter

Alsea River and Drift Creek during the most recent king tide.|Photo by Alex Derr, with support from Lighthawk.

We have now completed the annual King Tides Project for winter, 2019-2020.  The three sets of extreme high tides we  documented took place Nov. 25-27, Jan. 10-12, and Feb. 8-10. There was also a "bonus Christmas round" 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, although photos of the high tides on those days will be included along with those taken during the three "official" rounds in the project's photo archives. The only thing left to do this year is throw a wrap-up party as part of the Sharing the Coast Conference, March 14 in Coos Bay.

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

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.  We will be organizing the project again next winter--keep an eye on this website for information about the dates. 

This is the 10th year that 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.) 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,  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,