Coastal Preservation
October 31 2012

From King Tides to Sea Level Rise

by Mark Rauscher


“King tides” are extreme high tide events that occur when the sun and moon’s gravitational forces reinforce one another.  King tides tend to be more dramatic in the winter when storms cause increased wind and wave activity along the coast. These high water events allow us to visualize now how flooding from rising sea levels will impact our beaches, coastal areas and shoreline communities in the future.

The King Tide Photo Initiative educates people about the potential effects of rising sea levels due to climate change. During this initiative, organizations reach out to the general public to photograph local areas inundated by king tides and then encourage them to post the photos online for others to see. These photos can help people visualize the way sea level rise may affect our communities in the future. The photos generate information that can be used by coastal communities to inform people about the anticipated effects of sea level rise and perhaps lead to policy change and local adaptation.

King tides are a natural part of the tidal cycle and are not a result of climate change, but they do provide a view of the locally highest tides, which may occur more frequently as sea levels rise due to the effects of climate change.

To participate, grab your camera and take photos of coastal areas flooded by high tides this winter. King Tide events for the 2012-2013 season are: November 13th-15th, December 12th-14th, January 9th-11th and February 7th-9th.  Locations and instructions can be found on each state's sites for California, Oregon and Washington.

Each state has photos from past efforts, but here's a slideshow from Washington: