CoastWatch will be hosting their King Tide Kick-Off at 5-8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, at the North County Recreation District (NCRD) headquarters.

The first round of “king tides”, the highest tides of the year, is coming up, beginning on Monday, Nov. 25, kicking off the start up for the 2019-2020 season of the King Tide Project. Volunteer photographers are invited to assist in the Oregon King Tides Photo Project, a citizen science activity, by taking photos that document the highest reach of the year’s highest tides.

With CoastWatch’s partners in the project, the Coastal Management Program of Oregon’s Department of Land Conservation and Development, and local co-sponsor Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve will hold this kick-off event Friday, Nov. 15, in Nehalem. The party will feature food, photos from the past 10 years of the King Tide Project, and a talk from Francis Chan about ocean acidification and hypoxia and the impacts being felt in Oregon.

Chan’s talk is titled “Science in a Changing Ocean: Ocean Acidification, Missing Oxygen, and Adapting to Global Change.” Oregon’s coast is home to some of the ocean’s most productive ecosystems. These systems are undergoing profound changes. Oregon sits at the epicenter of the global challenges of ocean acidification and oxygen declines.

Chan is an associate professor senior researcher in the department of integrative biology at Oregon State University. He received his PhD in ecology from Cornell University. Chan’s research is focused on understanding the causes and consequences of low-oxygen zones along the U.S. West Coast.

CoastWatch Volunteer Coordinator Jesse Jones will talk about the King Tides Photo Project at this event. Margaret Minnick, the Friends of Cape Falcon Marine Reserve coordinator, will talk about marine reserves.

This is the tenth year that Oregon has participated in this international citizen science effort. The project is sponsored by the CoastWatch Program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition and the Oregon Coastal Management Program of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, along with local partners.

The international project began in Australia, where the highest tides of the year are known as “king tides.” These tides arrive when the sun, moon, and earth are in alignment, causing a stronger than usual gravitational pull.

Anyone with a camera can participate. At high tide on any of the three project days (the timing of which varies, depending on location), find a safe spot to observe the tide in relation to the land, snap photos, and post them online. More information on the project, a link to tide tables, and instructions for posting photos, can be found on the website, http://www.oregonkingtides.net/.

King tide photos can be taken anywhere affected by tides, whether on the outer shoreline, in estuaries, or along lower river floodplains. Photos showing high water in relation to infrastructure (roads, bridges, seawalls, and the like) can be particularly striking, and reveal where flooding problems threaten. But shots of marshes or other habitats being inundated, or coastal shorelines subject to flooding and erosion, are also useful. The goal of this long-term citizen science project is to document the highest reach of the tides on an ongoing basis, for comparative study over a period of many years. (Photographers who participated in past years are urged to return to the locations from which they took earlier King Tide photos so as to track the tides in that location over time. Photographers are also urged to return to the same locations to take comparison shots at ordinary high tide.)

While the King Tides Photo Project can help to identify areas that are currently threatened by flooding, the more important purpose is to gain a preview of sea level rise. The king tides, while extreme today, will become the “new normal” as sea level continues to rise, and storm surges increase, due to global warming. Gaining a glimpse of tidal inundation likely to become common decades into the future will benefit planners, resource agencies, conservationists, and coastal citizens in preparing for these changes.

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