Grab your camera this weekend and head out to the seashore–the next round of “king tides” will be here to give us a glimpse of how rising sea levels from global climate change could affect the state’s coastal areas in the future.
Documenting how very high tides affect the natural environment and our coastal infrastructure will help us visualize what sea level rise might look like in the future.
As global temperatures rise, the oceans warm slightly and expand, ice caps and glaciers melt, and more precipitation falls as rain instead of snow. This causes sea levels to rise and could affect Washington’s marine areas by:
- Intensifying flooding, especially during high tides and major storms.
- Shifting coastal beaches inland.
- Increasing coastal bluff erosion.
- Endangering houses and other structures such as roads, seawalls and utilities that are built near the shore.
- Threatening coastal freshwater and connected underground water supplies.
Some of the highest tides occur naturally during the winter, when gravitational pulls from the sun and moon reinforce one another.
The last king tides happened from Dec. 21 through Dec. 29, and Ecology received 184 new photos.
When to participate
The next round of king tides in Puget Sound starts on Friday, Jan. 13, and goes through Tuesday, Jan. 17. If you miss the Puget Sound king tides, you can always catch the higher-than-normal tides along our outer coast and Strait of Juan de Fuca. These will occur Jan. 18-22.
How to participate
It’s easy to participate. Just follow these steps:
- Use Ecology’s king tide map and schedule to find when and where the highest tides will occur.
- Locate a public beach by checking out Ecology’s Coastal Atlas.
- Take photos during a king tide, preferably where the high water levels can be gauged against familiar landmarks such as sea walls, jetties, bridge supports or buildings.
- Note the date, time and location of your photo–then upload your images on the Washington King Tide Photo Initiative Flickr Group.
- Ecology urges photographers to pay attention to safety when clicking pictures around high water.
If you want a one-stop-shop, Ecology has set up a special website that includes instructions on how to participate.
The Washington King Tide Photo Initiative is in its third year. Its purpose is to:
- Involve citizens in documenting high winter tides; and
- Gather photos that display potential impacts of rising water levels on coastal infrastructure along Washington’s shorelines and estuaries.
The King Tides Photo Initiative began in Australia in January 2009. In 2010, Washington and British Columbia began collecting king tide photos, and in 2011 they were joined by Oregon and California. The Washington King Tide Photo Initiative is now part of a coordinated effort between British Columbia, Washington, California and Oregon. Organizations and governments around the country are holding photo initiatives of their own.
In 2010 and 2011, Washington’s King Tides Photo Initiative gathered more than 400 photos. You can also view photos taken all along the West Coast on our partner’s Flickr groups: British Columbia, Oregon and several regions in California: San Francisco Bay Area, Santa Monica and San Diego.
Linda Kent is the Department of Ecology Southwest Region Communications Manager.