Data From: Sea Level, Tidal, and River Flow Trends in the Lower Columbia River Estuary, 1853-Present

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Oceanography -- Columbia River Estuary (Or. and Wash.) -- Mathematical models, Columbia River Estuary (Or. and Wash.)


The purpose of this study was to investigate how water levels have changed in the lower Columbia River Estuary after more than a century of anthropogenic modification and climate change. We found and recovered analog tidal records from the US National Archives and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration for Astoria, Oregon, from the years 1853-1876. We digitized these records using a computer-based, line-reading algorithm and the help of many Portland State students. We read through thousands of documents and letters to determine the relative height of measurements from 1853-1876 and the land. The historical measurements were then connected with the modern record at Tongue Point in Astoria, Oregon (1925-present). Additional measurements found in archives showed that the 1925-1960 Tongue Point record needed to be corrected by up to 5 cm. We also digitized nearby measurements from Youngs Bay and Fort Stevens at the coast. Put all together, these records show that: (1) Relative sea-level is rising more slowly in Astoria than the global average, in part due to the effect of plate tectonics but possibly also the redistribution of ocean water towards the western Pacific; (2) At the coast, relative sea level has been dropping over the last century, due to tectonic uplift; (3) River flow has decreased by roughly 50% in spring and early summer, but increased by more than 30% in winter, compared to the mid-19th century; (4) Tidal range has increased by ~5% in the last century, mostly due to channel dredging and estuarine infrastructure. The seasonal cycle of tides and sea-level has shifted due to altered river flow, with possible ecological implications. Details are found in the journal article, and examples of archival records are given in the electronic supplement.


The data supports the manuscript: Talke, S.A.,Mahedy, D., Jay, D.A., Lau, P., Hilley, C., Hudson, A. (2020). Sea Level, Tidal, and River Flow Trends in the Lower Columbia River Estuary, 1853-present, Journal of Geophysical Research: Oceans.

The author's manuscript version of the article is available in PDXScholar:

Data Description:
The data in these files depict tidal measurements made at Astoria, Oregon between 1853-1876, as well as associated data products. Other measurements made within the Columbia River Estuary between 1925 and 2019 are also included. Many different time scales are represented in the 19th century record, including water level data at 6 minute resolution (1855-1870), hourly resolution (1855-1876), high/low resolution (3-4 records per day, from 1853-1876), individual staff measurements (1854-1876), daily river flow (1855-1876), monthly averaged sea-level (1853-1870), and annually averaged sea-level (1853-1876). Post 1925 records include the datum-corrected record from Astoria-Tongue Point (1925-2019), the hourly tidal record from Astoria Young's Bay (1931-1943), the hourly tidal record from Fort Stevens (1941-1943), and an hourly tidal record from the River Pilots dock in downtown Astoria (all Oregon) from 2015-2019.

The Read Me file includes detailed data file description.


This work is marked with CC0 1.0 Universal



Persistent Identifier

READ_ME_Overview_to_Talke_supplemental_data_files_vFeb2020.txt (2 kB)
Read Me - Overview of data files

Astoria_Hourly_1855to1876_SI_LocalTime_NAVD88_vDec2019.txt (3645 kB)
Hourly Water Level Records from 1855-1876

Astoria_1853to1876_HighLow_SI_NAVD88_LocalTime.txt (884 kB)
High and Low Tide Water level Records from 1853-1876

Astoria_StaffMeas_1853to1876_SI_LocalTime_NAVD88_vSept2019.txt (248 kB)
Water Level Measurements from 1854-1876 made on Tide Staff

Astoria_Monthly_MSL_MTL_SI_NAVD88_vDec2019.txt (8 kB)
Monthly Averaged Water Level, 1853-1876

Astoria_MSL_1853to1876_SI_GMT_NAVD88_Composite_noQ_corr_vDec2019.txt (3 kB)
Annually Averaged Water Level, 1853-1876

Time_Comparisons_1853_1876.csv (41 kB)
Tabulations of Time Errors, made by observer 1853-1876

AstoriaRiverPilots_Dock_NAVD88_GMT_Oct2015_toAug2019.txt (609 kB)
Hourly Water Level Record from October 2015 to July 2019

AstoriaYoungsBay_1931to1943_NAVD88_GMT_vSept2018.txt (1905 kB)
Hourly Water Level Record, 1931-1943

AstoriaTonguePoint_1925to2019_Hourly_NAVD88_GMT_DatumCorrected_vDec2019.txt (20680 kB)
Hourly Water Level Record, 1925-2019

AstoriaTongePoint_Monthly_SeaLevel_SI_NAVD88_vSept2019.txt (25 kB)
Monthly Averaged Water Level Record, 1925-2019

AstoriaTonguePoint_MSL_1925to2018_SI_NAVD88_Composite_vSept2019.txt (4 kB)
Annually Averaged Water Level Record, 1925-2019

FortStevens_1940to1942_SI_NAVD88_vFeb2020.txt (315 kB)
Hourly Water Level Record, 1940-1942

DailyWaterLevel_30d_AvgResolution_PortlandOregon_WaterLevel_1855to1876_USGSdatum_vApr2020.txt (167 kB)
Daily Water Level

DailyFlow_30d_AvgResolution_ColumbiaRiver_atBeaverArmyTerminal_1855to1876_CMS_vFeb2020.txt (167 kB)
Discharge estimates (30d resolution, reported daily)