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Assessment: Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate

NRCAN

Natural Resources Canada has just published a new national assessment of Canada’s marine coasts. ACT Executive Director Deb Harford was also one of the reviewers of this assessment.

From the summary:

Coasts are an important component of the Canadian identity, economy and culture. Fronting on three oceans— Atlantic, Arctic and Pacific—Canada’s coasts, the longest in the world, are diverse and dynamic regions whose biodiversity, beauty and resources contribute to the country as a whole. The impacts of climate change on Canada’s coasts, which extend far beyond changes in sea level, present both challenges and potential opportunities for coastal communities, ecosystems and economic activities. How we adapt to the coming changes will be critical to the sustainability and continued prosperity of Canada and its coastal regions. The following points represent high-level conclusions from Canada’s Marine Coasts in a Changing Climate, and are discussed further in this synthesis:

  • Changing climate is increasingly affecting the rate and nature of change along Canada’s highly dynamic coasts, with widespread impacts on natural and human systems.
  • Recent extreme weather events demonstrate the vulnerability of coastal infrastructure.
  • Changes in the extent, thickness and duration of sea ice, both in the North and in some areas of the East Coast region, are already impacting coasts, ecosystems, coastal communities and transportation.
  • Sea-level changes will vary significantly across Canada during this century and beyond. Where relative sea level is rising, the frequency and magnitude of storm-surge flooding will increase in the future.
  • Knowledge of climate risks and the need for adaptation in coastal areas is increasing, with many examples of local and regional governments in Canada taking action on adaptation.
  • A range of adaptation measures will be needed in most settings to address the complex array of changes. Alternatives to hard coastal-protection structures can be effective in addressing coastal erosion and flooding in many areas.
  • It is imperative that future development be undertaken with an understanding of the dynamic nature of the coast and changing coastal risks. Monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of actions taken to date, as well as research to fill data and knowledge gaps, would help inform sustainable planning and development.

Read more from the document here.

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