Impacts of Sea-Level Rise and Climate Change 
on the Coastal Zone of 
southeastern New Brunswick

Réal Daigle
June, 2006

The objective of this 3-year (2003-2006) multi-disciplinary research project is to quantify the impacts of climate change and more specifically sea-level rise, storm surge and coastal erosion on the Gulf of St. Lawrence coastal zone of southeastern New Brunswick, in support of sustainable management, community resilience and the development of adaptation strategies.

Sandstone cliffs and Gulf of St. Lawrence
(photo: Parks Canada: P.E.I. National Park)

LIDAR data is being used to generate a detailed Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of the coast, critical for delineating flooding and inundation zones, natural protection structures such as coastal dunes, and backshore elevation for estimating sediment supply from shore erosion. Meteorological, geological and hydrographic studies will include investigations into measured and forecast sea-level changes due to crustal subsidence and climate change. This project is modeling the benchmark storm surge events of January 21, 2000 (declared a disaster by the federal government) and October 29, 2000 and develop a "maximum potential" storm surge along this coast given our understanding of historical events. These ranges of storm surge events along with the proposed climate change induced sea level rise scenarios are being placed on the DEM to identify areas along the New Brunswick Gulf of St. Lawrence coast that will be vulnerable to flooding, coastal erosion and inundation over the next 100 years. These impacts are being defined in terms of likely risk with scales of inland penetration of storm surges based on the scenarios presented and their effect on infrastructure, industry and coastal ecosystems. The coastal zone of south-eastern NB is home to several threatened species of plants and animals. An important aspect of the ecosystem research will be to determine how sea-level rise and future storm events will impact critical habitat and species at risk.

Project partners include Environment Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Parks Canada, the Province of New Brunswick, Université de Moncton, University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University, Laurentian University, Centre of Geographic Sciences and Dalhousie University, in consultation with municipalities and planning commissions, and with additional financial support from the Government of Canada's Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Program, and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada.

Contact: Réal Daigle, Meteorologist, Environment Canada