Such flooding will become more common as climate change continues to fuel sea level rise.
A parking lot in the Old Port in Portland, flooding during a king tide on Tuesday. Credit: Murray Carpenter / Maine Public

A high tide Tuesday was an opportunity to witness the changes that are coming to Maine’s coast as the sea level rises.

As one of the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s High Tide Walks, Gayle Bowness led a dozen people on a tour of flood-prone areas of Portland’s Old Port to learn about tidal flooding and to gather data for a community science project.

The walk coincided with one of the highest predicted tides of the year. Commonly known as king tides, Bowness said they cause sunny day flooding, or nuisance flooding, that is not associated with a storm surge.

At a wharf along Commercial Street, she points out a parking lot partly submerged beneath the water of Portland Harbor at high tide.

“All of that has been kind of eroded over time, and you can see that it’s eaten away at the tar, and this parking lot is kind of slowly coming back into the ocean,” she said.

Bowness said such high tides are now occurring as often as 18 times a year, typically in late fall and early winter, and late spring and early summer. She said they are quickly becoming more common as climate change causes sea levels to rise.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.