Nova Scotia

Parts of N.S. coast could see increased flooding risks in 2050, says climate group

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.

'If you look at the maps, you absolutely see some areas that will need to be defended,' says Peter Girard

The highlighted parts of these maps show the areas most vulnerable to flooding. This map shows Tufts Cove in Dartmouth, N.S. (Climate Central)

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 highlighted parts of these maps show the areas most vulnerable to flooding. Here's the map for some of the most popular beach spots in the Halifax region. (Climate Central)

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.

The highlighted parts of these maps show the areas most vulnerable to flooding. This map shows how flooding could affect Wolfville, N.S., and surrounding areas. (Climate Central)

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.

The highlighted parts of these maps show the areas most vulnerable to flooding. This map shows how flooding could affect areas stretching from Port Royal to Paradise. (Climate Central)

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.

The highlighted parts of these maps show the areas most vulnerable to flooding. Areas near Amherst have the potential to be inundated. (Climate Central)

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.

The highlighted parts of these maps show the areas most vulnerable to flooding. Coastal areas in southwest Nova Scotia have the potential to flood. (Climate Central)

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.

About the Author

Jack Julian

Reporter

Jack Julian joined CBC Nova Scotia as an arts reporter in 1997. His news career began on the morning of Sept. 3, 1998 following the crash of Swissair 111. He is now a data journalist in Halifax, and you can reach him at (902) 456-9180, by email at jack.julian@cbc.ca or follow him on Twitter @jackjulian

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