Coastal erosion a 'frightening' climate change threat

Rising sea levels that will cause increased coastal erosion are a major concern for P.E.I, says a climate researcher.

Rising sea levels and storm surges will batter P.E.I. coastline, says expert

The lighthouse at Cape Bear is perched perilously close to the edge of the cliff after coastal erosion. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Rising sea levels that will cause increased coastal erosion are an immediate threat to P.E.I. due to global warming, says a climate researcher.

"Probably most frightening for P.E.I. is the increase in coastal erosion through higher sea levels, and increased storm surges," said Adam Fenech, director of the climate research lab at UPEI.

"I'm very concerned because Prince Edward Island is already seeing major coastal erosion all across the Island, sometimes in the meters per year. And we expect that damage to increase under climate change."

Fenech is reacting to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change's recently released draft report that anticipates sea levels could rise nearly one metre by 2055.

The report also found that scientists are now 95 per cent confident that climate change is a result of human activity.

Some of Fenech's research mirrors the IPCC findings. He believes the average temperatures on P.E.I. will rise three degrees by 2055, increasing the risk of new insects, pests and diseases harming crops and forests.

But there will also be a longer growing season, he said.

"Personally, I think overall, climate change is going to be better for the Island than worse. And certainly we're going to be better off than most places if we're talking about temperature," said Fenech.

The final IPCC report is to be released in September.