Climate Change photo identifier

Climate Change

King Tides in Washington State

Some of the highest tides of the year occur in the winter. These tides, referred to as "King Tides," occur naturally when the sun and the moon align, causing an increased gravitational pull on the Earth's oceans. This winter king tides occur November through February.

The Washington King Tides Initiative is a partnership between Washington Sea Grant and the Washington Department of Ecology. You can view the Witness King Tides page on Sea Grant’s website for additional information on the initiative.

King Tides are a peek into climate change

King Tides give scientists and citizens a peak into one way climate change will impact our lives. 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. Seattle is predicted to experience a sea level rise of 4 to 56 inches by the year 2100.

These rising sea levels are expected to:

  • Intensify flooding in coastal areas, especially during high tides and major storms
  • Shift coastal beaches inland
  • Threaten structures, roads, utilities and other coastal land uses
  • Increase coastal bluff erosion, endangering houses and other structures built near the bluff edges
  • Threaten coastal freshwater and coastal aquifers (underground water supplies)

We invite you to grab your camera and head to the beaches to take photos of Washington’s king tides. 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. We need your help to document these king tides so we can best plan for, prepare and adapt to our changing coastline.

Get involved during the 2015-2016 King Tides season!

We need your help to gather photos that display potential impacts of rising water levels on our coastal shorelines and estuaries. Help us collect photos of 2015-16 King Tides along Washington's shorelines, estuaries and coastal communities by following these steps:

    Click to see the schedule for King Tides this year
  1. Use Ecology's 2015-16 King Tide map and schedule to find the date and time of the highest tides in your area.
  2. Check a tide table for exact times in your area.
  3. Check out Ecology's Coastal Atlas to locate a public beach.
  4. Take photos during one of the identified high tides in your area.
    • To better illustrate the impacts of the high winter tides, take photos in areas where the high water levels can be gauged against familiar landmarks such as sea walls, jetties, bridge supports, dikes, buildings or roads.
    • Please do not include people in your photos
    • Take photos from a safe location
    • If possible, snap a photo from the same location at low tide for comparison
  5. Upload your photos to the Anecdata Washington King Tides site. More information on uploading photos to Anecdata can be found on the site.
  6. Post your photos to Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter
    • Use the hashtags #kingtideswa and #kingtides
    • Be sure to tag the location in your photos for best reference

Thank you for helping us track this year's King Tides!

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 we 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. Search #kingtides on Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels to see photos from King Tides Photo Initiatives around the country and the globe.

Our King Tides Photo Initiative has gathered photos from the public since 2010. See this year's photos on the Anecdata Washington King Tides site.