Erosion scientists to study St. Margarets Bay, Bras d'Or
Coastal erosion from storms, changing sea level a growing problem, say scientists
Nova Scotia geoscientists are about to embark on a multi-year monitoring program to track the erosion of the province's coastlines.
This summer, two scientists with the Department of Natural Resources will put monitoring stations around St. Margarets Bay outside Halifax and around the Bras d'Or Lakes in Cape Breton. The survey posts will be used to see how coastlines can be protected from the erosion process.
The province has already begun shoring up dikelands along the Minas Basin and has ordered municipalities to develop other such climate change adaptation plans if they want gasoline taxes.
Rob Naylor, the director of geological services for the Department of Natural Resources, said it will take four or five years before the survey posts are installed province wide.
His survey is part of a broad effort involving 14 departments, to adapt and deal with the issue of erosion. In the end, the science will end up in the hands of municipal and provincial decision makers, said Naylor.
"They need to know, how is their coastline changing? Do they want to put major infrastructure in harm's way?" he said.
Ruth Oberst lives on the Northumberland Strait. She recalls neighbours laughing at her 30 years ago when she was the first in her area to put armour stone in front of her property in Brule, in Colchester County.
Now, "rocking up" has become a fact of life in the area to try to slow down erosion.
"Everybody more or less has to go along with the scheme of rocking up," said Oberst.
"Once those waves break on the big rocks at the bottom they've lost their force."
Scientists at the Coastal Zone Canada 2014 Conference in Halifax this week said the problem is growing.
"We're seeing erosion caused by short-term events like storms, we're seeing long-term erosion that's caused by things like changing sea levels and by changing amounts of sediment that's moving along the coast," said Norman Catto, a professor of geography at Memorial University in St John's.
The new survey posts will provide some valuable information for scientists, in time.
Naylor said the monitoring process will take decades. They will also be studying how the coast erodes in different parts of the province.