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Climate Change and Adaptation in Atlantic Canada

Staff writers

November 14, 2012 — Mount Allison University geography and environment professor Dr. Ian Mauro and his team have spent the past year documenting climate change in Atlantic Canada -- and what they found might come as a surprise to many.

Fishermen on the Bay of Fundy say dog fish are appearing much more frequently in their nets than in previous years
Fishermen on the Bay of Fundy say dog fish are appearing much more frequently in their nets than in previous years

Across Atlantic Canada, coastlines and communities are being "adversely affected" by climate change. As temperature, sea level and storm surge increase, adaptation initiatives are being planned and implemented to navigate the impending storm. 

For the past year, Dr. Ian Mauro and his multimedia research team have been documenting the story of Atlantic adaptation and say now is the perfect time to share their findings with the public.

"Over the past year, our team has travelled across Atlantic Canada documenting climate change impacts and adaptive responses, and after what’s happened recently in New York City, this is important material for citizens, scientists, policy makers, and all coastal communities,” says Mauro, who is the Canada Research Chair in Human Dimensions of Environmental Change at Mount Allison. “The world is now asking, ‘How will we adapt to rising sea levels, increased storminess, and tidal surges?’ and our film and media project makes an important contribution in this regard.”  

The results of the project suggest four main thematic case studies – focused on climate, coastlines, communities and adaptation – and have produced a multi-media website to showcase the results and raise awareness.

Mauro says Atlantic Canada, like the Arctic, is already beginning to see the effects of climate change and is seeking ways to safely navigate these stormy waters.

“Atlantic Canada is really on the front lines of climate change and adaptively responding to it,” he says. “Communities across the region have begun preparations, they are seeing the impacts, and our work documents thechallenges and opportunities ahead for coastal areas.” 

The photos (shot by Craig Norris) shown above are just a few images Dr. Mauro and his team captured during their travels and have this to say about each one (in order in which they appear in the slideshow):

1. Dogfish

Lobster fisherman on the Bay of Fundy say the water is 2° C warmer then it was five years ago. Fishermen question how the warmer temperatures will affect the marine ecosystem? Many wonder if the warmer water may attract species like dogfish, which seem to be appearing in their traps more frequently. 

2. Fundy Fog

This one room school house along the Bay of Fundy in Waterside, New Brunswick, has often been shrouded in fog. Long-term residents say that is now changing. They say they are getting less fog these days, and some wonder how this will impact the ecology of their fog forest. 

3. Historic Ice Road

Long-term residents of the Kingston Peninsula, in New Brunswick, expect their historic ice road will soon be a thing of the past. For more the 200 years, the road season stretched from November through March, but as the world warms it has shrunk to as little as few weeks in January and February. 

4. Our Path Forward

Climate change in Atlantic Canada is making rain events less frequent but more intense. Water management infrastructures, like the culverts below this roadway in Watervale, Nova Scotia, were simply not designed to accommodate this new reality. As climate change intensifies, the Atlantic provinces will be forced to upgrade water management systems and find a new path forward. 

New videos will continue to be released on the web site, Climate Change in Atlantic Canada over the coming months. 

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