PEI

Dorian damage draws University of Windsor researchers to P.E.I. shore

A group of researchers from the University of Windsor is on P.E.I. to determine how Dorian contributed to the erosion of P.E.I.'s North Shore.

'What we are able to see now is the impacts directly related to Dorian'

The dunes at Cavendish Beach were damaged and eroded by post-tropical storm Dorian. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

A group of researchers from the University of Windsor is on P.E.I. to determine how post-tropical storm Dorian contributed to the erosion of P.E.I.'s North Shore.

The university's coastal research group has been using drones this week at P.E.I. National Park.

"The drone will give us really high-resolution data where we'll be able to accurately quantify sediment budgets and see what amount of erosion has occurred," said Alex Smith, a postdoctoral research fellow and a member of the group. 

They were also on the Island for the month of July, and now they can compare the size of the dunes before and after the storm.

"They got a really good baseline data set, which shows how the beach and the dunes are formed during lower-energy conditions," Smith said.

I think Brackley and Cavendish were hit a little bit harder than Stanhope.— Alex Smith

The team has noticed "scarps" on some of the dunes, which means one side is essentially scraped off by the waves, Smith said.

"We've just been making just simple observations, we've seen scarps of upwards of two metres in some places," Smith said.

Brackley and Cavendish hit hard

There are many factors in how the dunes may take damage, including how the beach is laid out and where the waves hit, he said.

'What we are able to see now is the impacts directly related to Dorian,' says Smith. Cavendish beach is pictured here. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

"I think Brackley and Cavendish were hit a little bit harder than Stanhope. And I am not sure exactly why that was," Smith said. 

"Once we get back to the lab at the University of Windsor we will be able to sort of assess some of their damages in a little bit more detail," Smith said.

Snapshot of future

The sediment that was moved by the waves isn't necessarily gone forever. Smith said it can be deposited on the beach, which creates a slope and might lessen the impact of future erosion.

"What we are able to see now is the impacts directly related to Dorian. Once we see the scarping, we then quantify the amount of volume sediment that has been eroded," Smith said.

High-resolution images from the drone will allow the group to determine how much of the dunes were eroded from the post-tropical storm, Smith said.

The group will take the images back to Windsor and it will give them a better idea of "what the beach is going to be like in the next 10 years or so," he said.

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With files from Island Morning

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