BAR HARBOR — December’s full moon, sometimes known as “the Cold Moon,” lit up the sky on Dec. 3. It brought with it some of the year’s largest tides, meaning the greatest difference between low and high tide.
The National Ocean Service has said that these exceptionally high tides happen during new and full moons. The next full moon will fall on the night between Jan. 1 and 2.
The MDI Biological Laboratory’s Community Environmental Health Lab (CEHL) has been conducting research on king tides since 2014.
“We had one [of the highest tides of the year] this week,” CEHL director Jane Disney said Friday, Dec. 8. “This one was as high at 13 feet.”
The group created a website and app called Anecdata, an online citizen-science community where individuals and institutions crowdsource data for user-created projects.
“We have 50 projects from all over the world,” Disney said. “We just got one on sea turtles from Egypt.”
The Gulf of Maine King Tides project on the system has collected crowdsourced photos from Boston to Bar Harbor for the last three years. Photographers upload a photo at or near peak high or low tide and record weather and location data. Users are asked to include landmarks or other structures in their photos for reference.
So far, 28 contributors have posted 162 reports and 383 photos. Hulls Cove in Bar Harbor and Stanley Brook in Seal Harbor are data hotspots for the project.
Disney hopes the data could be used to better understand the effect of tides on infrastructure in coastal towns.
“[Anecdata] is helpful for shoreline planning,” she said. “It shows the potential impact [of the tides] on the shoreline.”
In Boston, this month’s high tides have caused minor flooding on wharfs. Disney said the University of Maine at Machias has taken an interest in this study because high tides could cause infrastructure problems in Washington County.
Bar Harbor photographer Jennifer Booher has contributed a number of photos to the project. She is a member of Frenchman Bay Partners, a sustainability group also spearheaded by Disney, and learned about the program through them.
“I spend lots of time in the littoral zone,” Booher said, referring to the area between the high and low tide lines. “My work deals with issues like historic and cultural use of shoreline resources, marine litter and climate change.”
The CEHL has been marketing this project since its inception to get a larger body of data from the coast of Maine. Disney said that they have pushed the project with their email newsletter and on social media. She said her lab has applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation to do more extensive research on the tides, but the process is still in its infancy.
For more information on the Gulf of Maine King Tides project, visit Anecdata.org.