Climate change poses threats along waterfront
© Belle Hatfield
Moored boats float at the public wharf in Yarmouth as water creeps toward a parked car at the height of a recent high course tide.
Sea water levels are on the rise and Yarmouth’s waterfront is not immune.
There was a brief period, in advance of Hurricane Sandy, when forecasters were casting their eyes on southwestern Nova Scotia. The monster storm took a turn to the northwest and it was New York and New Jersey that took the direct hit. This time we were spared, but when the next big one hits – and the probability tables say it is when, not if – will the community be prepared?
Data being compiled by the Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions Project suggest that in 2100, if Yarmouth were to be hit by a monster storm, water levels would be 1.25 meters higher than those reached during the historic Groundhog Day storm in 1976.
The prediction for a 100-year storm event is that sea levels would reach 6 meters above current sea level. To put it in perspective the top of the marginal wharf is 4.3 meters above sea level.
The increase is due to expected sea level rise from warming oceans, in conjunction with more violent storms. Sea level is expected to rise at least one meter in the next 90 years.
With this as a backdrop, the Town of Yarmouth is now developing a climate change action plan to identify actions that can mitigate the effects of these changes on existing infrastructure and adaptations that can protect future developments.
The plan is a stipulation of the 2010-2015 Gas Tax Agreement. In order to access funding municipalities have to address the impacts of climate change in their communities.
In the coming months the committee, headed by town planner Arthur MacDonald, is expected to hold a series of information meetings for the public, and property owners and businesses in vulnerable parts of the waterfront. A final report is expected to come before council with recommendations by the end of 2013.