Challenges of adapting to climate change in the Atlantic

Natural Resources Canada has just published the Atlantic Canada chapter of its report Canada in a Changing Climate: Regional Outlook Report (A new window). This chapter describes the climatic changes that Atlantic communities are undergoing, the impact of these changes on the environment and economy of this region, and attempts to adapt.

case report

Atlantic Canada has approximately 42,000 km of coastline and is characterized by three different climatic zones, such as humid and cold continental climate, arctic climate and arctic tundra. The Atlantic Ocean accounts for 6.5% of the country’s population.

In terms of climate change, the average annual temperature increased by 0.7°C from 1948 to 2016, and seasonal rainfall increased by 11%.

The report states that Relative sea level rise is a particular concern for the region, with projected sea level rise above the global average in most areas of Atlantic Canada..

For example, the data predicts a sea level rise of 20 cm in Halifax over the next two to three decades, which is It will lead to a fourfold increase in the frequency of coastal flooding in the municipalityCan we read the report?

Infrastructure threatened

According to the report, many regions are expected to see sea level rise above the global average. More specifically, sea level rise is expected to be in the range of 75 to 100 cm by the end of the twenty-first century in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Island. – Edward.

This will inevitably increase the risk of coastal and inland flooding, most often attributed to hurricanes, ice jams, storms or earlier or earlier thaw, due to higher temperatures.

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Heavy rain damaged the Trans-Canada Highway near Port aux Basques in Newfoundland in November 2021.

Photo: Radio-Canada/Helos Rodriguez-Qizilbash

Additionally, coastal erosion is a very specific problem in Atlantic Canada. Some areas are more at risk, such as Northumberland Strait in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.

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Thus, it is inevitable that infrastructure will suffer the consequences of climate change associated with flooding and erosion, such as flooded buildings, disrupted essential services or severely damaged roads. It is often the only road link for many communities and thus becomes extremely vulnerable.

How do you adapt to it?

Many municipalities have updated their flood zone maps and amended their municipal regulations. The document cites cities Paradise Based on Mount Pearl In Newfoundland and Labrador who selected in-depth risk assessment studies and updated their card.

However, the report notes that many places have not yet gone through this process, which helps guide the construction of new infrastructure, for example in some unincorporated areas of New Brunswick where there are no land use plans or administrative regulations.

According to the New Brunswick government, only 34% of municipalities in the province have assessed current and future climate risks in 2020.

In Nova Scotia, the Coastal Protection Act restricts construction, renovations, and expansions in vulnerable coastal areas.

Some examples of adaptation:

  • Natural Infrastructure Learning Days: How natural stormwater ponds, rain gardens, and restored river banks can reduce flood risk;

  • Realignment of dams in Nova Scotia (website Belcher Street and location the talk);

  • Live Coast Show location in the Halifax Regional Municipality;

  • Lifting a bridge in Pointe du Chien, New Brunswick.

On several occasions, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador have had to remove and reinstall facilities, such as homes too close to riverbanks, due to erosion, the report says. This coastal adaptation strategy could cause concern on the part of the affected population. Discussions with residents are expected if municipalities choose this adaptation strategy.

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The forestry industries, agriculture and fishing are also vulnerable to climate change. Because they play an important role in Atlantic Canada’s economy, they have a common need for research, monitoring, and information to develop policies to address the effects of climate change.

Impact on physical and mental health

According to the report, climate change will have a short-term impact on people’s health. Floods can expose people to cold or wet conditions or infectious agents from back-up sewage systems. The report also highlights the negative impact of mold growth and reduced air quality in homes that have experienced multiple floods.

The mental health of Atlantic Canada residents is not immune to climate change. Losing your home or belongings, returning to or rebuilding a damaged home affects mental health.

A road sign covered in ice and its inscription hard to read.  In the back, electricity poles fell under the weight of the ice. view larger image (A new window)

An ice storm affected several communities on the Acadian Peninsula in 2017 in New Brunswick.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Diane Doiron

The report also notes that frequent winter storms can leave people without heating or clean water. The document notes a major icy rainstorm that occurred in New Brunswick in 2017. More than a third of NB Power’s customers were without power, for more than 10 days in some areas.

Atlantic Canada is geographically and climatically complex and its impacts on human health are extreme weather events, many of which are expected to increase. […] are of particular concern.

Targeting vulnerable populations

To adapt to climate change, the report suggests updating vulnerability maps, making it possible to target large groups of older adults who are more vulnerable to heat waves, for example. This will make it easier to target needs and means of intervention.

Expected number of days above 30°C

city

2020 year (planned)

1950s (planned)

2080s (planned)

Fredericton (N.-B.)

16

31

53

Bridgewater, N.S.

12,6

21,6

31,4

Charlottetown (Î.-P.-É.)

2,2

5,3

12,3

city Middleton It is located in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia in one of the warmest regions of Atlantic Canada. This municipality has analyzed the thermal vulnerability of its residents by region and provides its citizens with public facilities with temperature control systems, an outdoor swimming pool, water play areas and gardens with trees.

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Limited adaptability

Although many good moves are cited as examples in Natural Resources Canada’s report on adaptation to climate change by Atlantic municipalities, the document notes that this adaptive capacity is often limited “by human and financial resources. Constrained.”

The report notes that there are knowledge gaps in understanding how climate change affects all areas of governance and society. Thorough and regular research should be conducted.

It is therefore necessary to encourage partnership between organizations and stakeholders in the private sector, non Governmental Organizationand municipal and provincial governments, researchers and education stakeholders. This cooperation that presents different perspectives is an important factor that will allow societies to better adapt to climate change.

Many believe that adaptability is entrusted to many organizations or a system, rather than one, and believe that participation in a network of institutions can collectively enhance adaptive capacity.

To promote this adaptation, it is necessary to raise public awareness of the impact of these changes through effective communication tailored to the needs and interests of the target audience, the report reads. Initiatives must be “proactively implemented, not reactive.” “

Climate change is a common problem that requires shared responsibility among all groups.

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