New Brunswick

Prepare for rising sea levels, warns climate change report

Environment Canada is warning people along New Brunswick's southeast coast to prepare for rising sea levels during the next few decades, thanks in part to climate change.

Environment Canada is warning people along New Brunswick's southeast coastto prepare for rising sea levels during the next few decades, thanks in part to climate change.

Environment Canada researchers have released a major report studying the last three yearsof storms along the Northumberland coast. It suggests flooding isbecoming more frequent andepisodes of high water will continue during the next several decades.

During thepast few years, major storm surges have hit communities including Barachois, Bouctouche and Cocagne.

In the past, major flooding occurred every 50 to 100 years.

The New Brunswick Sea Level Rise Project got its start after several storm surges hit the New Brunswick shoreline in January 2000.Pounding waveseroded metres of sandy coastline andseveral communities were flooded.

Residents of communities along the Northumberland coast have been complaining that storm surges are on the rise, and during the past three years, scientists have confirmed that evidence.

Project co-ordinator Real Daiglesays storms are likely to worsen as sea levels continue to rise. He saysmajor storm surges will hit the coast everyfive or 10 years during the next century. In the past, major flooding occurred every 50 to 100 years.

On Tuesday morning, Daigle unveiled a series of maps showing areas where the water level has had an impact. He alsoprovided detailed images of erosion along the southeastern coast of New Brunswick.

Daigle says the new research will help communities react to changing weather patterns. "We look at adaptation options: what people can do to adapt to sea level rises, and the existing problems that we are seeing right now."

He says that,fortunately, some communities are already adapting. InBarachois, cottage ownershave built stone barriers along their properties to prevent further erosion and flooding.

Environment Canada economist Lisa DeBaie says the new report will help people in coastal communities continue to adapt.

DeBaie says rising sea levels need to be accounted for every time a building permit is issued."We are noticing that communities realize that there are changes happening, particularly in this coastal area.And they are doing things to reduce the risks."

Environment Canada will take the research to coastal communities and plans to hold public information sessions in Cocagne and Barachois later this month.

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