Parts of N.S. coast could see increased flooding risks in 2050, says climate group
'If you look at the maps, you absolutely see some areas that will need to be defended,' says Peter Girard
A non-profit research group says some areas of Nova Scotia's coastline will be more vulnerable than previously thought to increased flooding and higher tides in the future, but a Nova Scotia Community College professor says the projections come with some limitations.
U.S.-based Climate Central created a series of maps showing how ocean storms could affect coastlines in the year 2050.
"Coastal flooding, borne by sea level rise, affects a great deal more land and a great deal more people than previous assessments could have told us," said spokesperson Peter Girard.
Previous estimates of worldwide coastal elevations were measured using radar mapping from space.
The latest maps were made using lidar, which is the equivalent of radar, but uses lasers.
Lidar can "see" through foliage and revealed that the world's coastlines are on average two metres lower than previous estimates.
In coastal urban areas, the average was four metres lower.
Climate Central's analysis says that at least once per year, large areas of Nova Scotia's current coastline will likely be underwater due to storms.
Girard said "it's not a doomsday forecast."
"You have a relatively rocky coast, and you don't see those big, broad plains where there are just acres and acres of vulnerability," he said.
"But if you look at the maps, you absolutely see some areas that will need to be defended or will be subject to increased flooding and higher tides."
Areas expected to be hard hit
Those areas include communities touching the Bay of Fundy, such as Wolfville, Annapolis Royal and Bridgetown.
Amherst and Yarmouth could also see more flooding.
In the Halifax region, Tufts Cove and a redeveloped Shannon Park are vulnerable.
Beaches such as Rainbow Haven and Lawrencetown, and Dominion Beach in Cape Breton, are also vulnerable.
Maps have limitations, says NSCC prof
An expert in coastal lidar mapping with the Nova Scotia Community College said it's important to understand the limits of these new maps.
Tim Webster said they are more significant on a global scale, rather than a tool to check the future of your own seaside property.
Webster said Nova Scotia already has lidar coastal maps that are more accurate for small-scale predictions.