In Nova Scotia climate change is expected to bring warmer than average temperatures and greater fluctuations in our average highs & lows. This has the potential to threaten vulnerable populations with heat waves, damage agriculture outputs, cause droughts and even strengthen coastal storms.
Sea Level Rise
Nova Scotia is in a unique position because of its proximity to the ocean as a peninsula there are no places within the province further then 60 kilometers from at least one of three major bodies of water The Atlantic Ocean, The Northumberland Strait and the Bay of Fundy – all of which are expected to rise by around 1 meter by 2100.
The process behind climate change is sea level rise is two-fold; first the oceans are being fed by the massive amounts of melt from our globes poles and glacier regions, secondly as global temperatures rise so does the temperature of the water; which in turn causes the volume of water to expand through a process known as “thermal expansion”
As a coastal province this could spell big trouble for many parts of Nova Scotia – not only will the sea level rise along our coasts statically but it will also provide a higher baseline from which storm surges can reach further inland.
But.. Nova Scotians are a tough bunch and we are already working on adaptation strategies, these include some of the following:
- Coastal setback policies
- Armoured shorelines
- Living shorelines
- Dykes & Levees
- Coastal restoration projects & retention of existing coastal marshes
If you or someone you know is concerned about the impact of sea level rise on their home or community please do not hesitate to get in touch with us – we have numerous experts available that are always up for a chat!
If however you are more of the DIY yourself type – check out this great resource page from some of the brightest scientists in the world. https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/sea-level/
Extreme Storm Events
Most climate models show that Nova Scotians can start to expect more frequent and more extreme storm events. Specifically, this will entail higher temperatures, colder “snaps”, as well as intense rainfall events.
In Nova Scotia scientists are still unsure as to whether we will see more hurricanes but are certain we will see stronger hurricanes with greater impacts fueled by higher sea levels and warmer ocean temperatures.. which discussed above is also allowing the sea level to rise and in turn is giving hurricanes greater inroads into coastal communities.
Flooding & Flood Management / Spring/Fall
Flooding has always occurred in many parts of Nova Scotia – this is largely due to our series of our historical and continued settlement along river valleys, flood plains and coastal areas. However as we’ve continued to build non-permeable infrastructure like asphalt, pavements and concretes – we are continually eroding the natural landscapes ability to absorb water.
Furthermore, as climate change alters our storm and rainfall patterns even built infrastructure like stormwater management systems are becoming unable to properly contain and process the sheer volumes of stormwater, riverine flooding and coastal flooding.
If you have read this far and have touched on the piece about rain gardens and property water management above then consider this: think of what you could do on a community level should you upsize projects like rain gardens, bioswales and cisterns. This touches on one concept behind flood management covering natural water retention which favors a return to naturalized stormwater management systems and “green infrastructure”; for more reading on “green infrastructure” check out.
Drought – simply put is a long period of abnormally low rainfall leading to a shortage of water – in the case of Nova Scotia this adversely effects those with ground water wells.
Although droughts can have many different causes – most scientists across Canada and globally have linked more intense droughts to climate change. This is because as more greenhouse gases enter the air they increase air temperature… which in turn causes more moisture to evaporate from bodies of water (lakes, rivers, oceans) Warmer temperatures can also increase evaporation from plant soils.. which can kill off vegetation and in turn reduce rainfall even further!
With the rainfall patterns changing it can have the adverse effect of drying out and killing vegetation and then dousing barren areas with heavy rains – which in turn leads to more flooding due to the soils and vegetation being unavailable to hold, store and use the water.