Coastal vulnerability scenarios in Lockeport, Nova Scotia

Monday, March 9, 2015

Samantha Page from the St. Mary’s University recently defended her Masters' thesis titled, “Development and application of a geomorphic-based vulnerability index for assessing relative coastal vulnerability to erosion under wave energy scenarios associated with climate change”.

The following is a description of her work and results:

With the projected increase in global mean sea level rise, small coastal communities face formidable challenges as they seek to sustainably manage their coastal assets and resources impacted by sea level rise (SLR).  Consequently, it has become increasingly important to assess a community’s coastal vulnerability.  In collaboration with the Partnership for Canada-Caribbean Community Climate Change Adaptation (ParCA) project, the aim of this research was twofold: 1) develop a tool to assess relative physical coastal vulnerability to erosion, incorporating the geomorphic components of assailing, resistance, and resilience characteristics and 2) apply the tool to Lockeport, Nova Scotia under four wave energy scenarios to simulate how the addition of storm winds and increases in water depths associated with climate change conditions change the wave energy reaching the shoreline; ultimately allowing for the determination of coastline and building vulnerability to erosion and inundation. The identification of areas and buildings most vulnerable to SLR-induced erosion and inundation, under varying wave energy scenarios, is meant to guide coastal planning and SLR adaptation strategies in the Town of Lockeport, Nova Scotia.

The developed coastal vulnerability matrix was successful in incorporating the assailing, resistance, and resilience components of geomorphic change and in providing a preliminary attempt at a holistic assessment of physical coastal vulnerability to erosion. The application of the developed coastal vulnerability matrix, to the Town of Lockeport, illustrated that the vulnerability of Lockeport’s shoreline is highly affected by storm conditions, exemplified by an increase in wind speeds, whereas an additional moderate increase in water levels does not have as much of an impact.  However, storm winds, along with a large increase in water levels, do appear to have a large impact on the presence of highly vulnerable coastlines in this study.  In Lockeport the areas that remained very lowly vulnerable to erosion across all scenarios were Chetwynd Lane, west Locke Street, east Locke Island, Sam’s Point, and areas along Brighton Road. On the other hand, the areas that have been identified as being most vulnerable to erosion and inundation under the wave energy scenarios are: Crescent Beach, the Trestles, Calf Island Road, Water Street, historic South Street and parts of Brighton Road.

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