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What will the Oregon coast look like in the future? King tides provide a glimpse

The extremely high tides happen every year. Scientists hope volunteers will help document them to help prepare for the future.

PORTLAND, Ore — The Oregon coast is set to see king tides this weekend and the big waves will offer people a glimpse of what the future might look like, as the climate changes, glaciers melt and sea levels rise.

"King tides is a good proxy for what we can expect with sea level rise over time," said Meg Reed, the coastal shores specialist for the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, an organization is involved with the King Tides Project.

For the last 11 years, volunteers with the King Tides Project have been documenting these extremely high tides that happen every year in early winter along the Pacific Coast. 

RELATED: Photos of 'king tides' globally show risks of climate change

"You have the sun, the moon and the earth all in alignment with each other. The moon is closest to the earth in its cycle, and the earth is closest to the sun it its cycle and it creates the greatest gravitational pull on the tides," explained Reed. "We ask people to go out with their cameras or phones and take pictures of the king tides from a safe distance because they can be very dangerous events."

Over the years, volunteers have snapped pictures of flooded parking lots, boat ramps and beaches. They've captured images of king tide waters surrounding buildings. They are all images of what the Oregon coast could one day look like.

"It can cause damage. It can cause flooding and erosion and impact infrastructure," said Reed. "So it's important for people to observe those impacts and think about adaptation strategies."

Those strategies might include changing where and how people build on the coast.

"It might mean you have to elevate houses or infrastructure you might have to move infrastructure back from coastline or other adaptations strategies," said Reed.

Anyone can document the king tides and volunteers are always welcome. There is more information about the king tides for this winter season on the King Tides Project website.

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