Washington’s naturally occurring king tides start this week, and the state Department of Ecology (Ecology) is inviting the public to share their photos of these higher-than-usual winter tides. These tidal events are often referred to as king tides. They offer a glimpse of how rising sea levels from global climate change could affect Washington’s marine shorelines by:
- Intensifying coastal flooding, especially during high tides and major storm surges.
- Shifting marine beaches inland.
- Increasing coastal bluff erosion.
- Endangering houses and other structures built near the shore such as roads, sea walls and utilities.
Recent scientific studies project that global sea level will rise 4-56 inches by 2100 with significant local variation. By soliciting and posting king tide photos on its Web page, Ecology is working to educate people about the impacts of sea-level rise with the goal of better informed public policy decisions about shoreline planning and management. In Washington’s coastal regions – Puget Sound, Strait of Juan de Fuca and the outer coast – this season’s king tides will happen from early December 2013 through the end of January 2014.
Dates vary slightly depending on location:
- Along Washington’s outer coast, king tides will occur Dec. 2-5 and Dec. 30-31, 2013; Jan. 1-2, Jan. 5-8, and Jan. 29-30, 2014.
- In the Strait of Juan de Fuca, they occur Dec. 2-4, Dec. 30-31, 2013; Jan. 1-2, Jan. 30-31, 2014.
- The Puget Sound dates for king tides are Dec. 6-10, Dec. 30-31, 2013; Jan. 4-8, 2014.
Follow these steps to participate:
- 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.
- Please tag your photos on Twitter and Facebook with the hashtag #kingtides.
- Play it safe! While the winter king tides occur during daylight hours, don’t venture out during severe weather and keep a close eye on rising water levels.
Since 2010, Ecology has collected nearly 700 king tide photos from the public. In addition to Ecology’s collection of photos, Witness King Tides (WKT) collects images of important places threatened by sea level rise. WKT is a project of Washington Sea Grant, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded marine research and education organization based at the University of Washington. Go to: http://washington.kingtides.net/