One of dozens of new Geoscan maps by Gavin Manson. (Screenshot/Black Press Media files)

Mapping of Canadian coasts showing where climate change to hit hardest this century

The expectation of rising sea levels has already been documented this year

A federal government geoscientist has developed fresh maps of coastlines showing where flooding and erosion caused by climate change are likely to inflict maximum damage this century.

The mapping effort led by Gavin Manson has taken into account factors like the disappearance of sea ice, rising waves and the makeup of the shoreline.

The latest version of the CanCoast map has combined six key factors to create visual ratings of ”coastal sensitivity” on the three oceans.

Manson said in an interview Wednesday that when you start to consider how wave height rises due to a lack of sea ice or the slope of the shore, it can make a major difference in erosion and flooding.

“It includes a whole lot more information on factors that affect the physical sensitivity of Canada’s coasts,” he said from the Geological Survey of Canada office at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax.

The expectation of rising sea levels has already been documented in the Changing Climate Report Ottawa released in April for large portions of Atlantic Canada, the Beaufort Sea, the Fraser River lowlands and northern British Columbia.

In parts of Atlantic Canada where coastal land is sinking as seas rise, the ocean is predicted to be an average of between 75 centimetres to one metre higher by the end of the century — increasing flood risk during storms.

However, Manson points out that quantifying coastal sensitivity takes the analysis further.

The nature of the shoreline — whether it’s beach, gravel or a hard rocky shore — is part of the mix of six variables the geological mapmakers have scored.

Another factor now included in the maps is how the melting of ice in the ground beneath permafrost leaves coasts susceptible to more erosion.

As the ground sinks, the oceans gain in energy, tearing away at the shore. “In the 2090s, there’s much less in the way of sea ice, and there’s more waves,” said Manson.

The researcher says the areas of highest sensitivity are on the northern coasts facing the Beaufort Sea, where bright red colours on the maps signal the elevated risk.

“Things are getting much worse in that area …. It’s one of the areas with the highest increase in sensitivity, and it extends further east into the Arctic archipelago than we would have expected.”

Factors such as melting ground ice and loose materials along the shore are key factors along the coast facing the Arctic Ocean, he adds.

Parts of Hudson Bay are also in the red zone, as are portions of southeastern Cape Breton and tiny Sable Island, hundreds of kilometres off Nova Scotia’s coast.

In the case of Cape Breton, the factors that raise sensitivity include the likelihood of reduced ice on the inland Bras d’Or lakes, which would result in more tidal action against the shorelines.

The mapping data is publicly available for downloading and study on a service called Geoscan.

Manson says the CanCoast maps are being used by all levels of government, as well as coastal engineers and industry consultants.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. firefighters only responding to most life-threatening calls during COVID-19 pandemic

The directive comes after province spoke with paramedics, fire services, according to top doctor

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Skeena Bulkley Valley MP calling for halt on sport fishing licenses to out-of-province fishers

Bachrach and Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns co-signed the letter to the Minister of Fisheries

Bella Coola Heli Sports closed, says no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in their operation

The company has committed to informing the community if a case is reported

COVID-19 case confirmed at Subway restaurant in Cache Creek

Customers who visited the site from March 25 to 27 are asked to self-isolate

Education, not enforcement: B.C. bylaw officers keeping a watch on physical distancing

A kind word, it turns out, has usually been all people need to hear

Emergency aid portal opens Monday, cash could be in bank accounts by end of week: Trudeau

Emergency benefit will provide $2,000 a month for those who have lost their income due to COVID-19

QUIZ: How much do you know about hockey?

Take this test and find out how well you know Canada’s most popular winter sport

Researchers look at humidity as a weapon in the fight against airborne viruses

Regular hand washing, physical distancing and PPE for health care workers remains best line of defense

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

How to cope with your mental health during a global pandemic

Becca Shears, clinical counsellor in Vanderhoof speaks about ways to deal with stress and anxiety during this time.

Full World COVID-19 update: National Guard collect ventilators in New York; Spain, Italy improve

Comprehensive coronavirus update with news from around the world.

Two people fined after B.C. police spot online ads re-selling 5,000 surgical, N95 masks

Police confiscated the masks, being sold at inflated prices, and now working with Fraser Health

Most Read