Extreme weather, storm surge, and sea level rise

Models and projections of extreme weather events are lacking for coastal BC [74]. There is little available data on future extreme weather, storm surge, or sea level rise at the scale of the MaPP region. Existing estimates of future sea-level rise vary widely, and projections at a regional scale are either largely unavailable or even more variable.

Investment in this research area would allow decision makers to better plan and implement operational adaptive actions to improve the outcome of high wind events and storm surge impacts. Risk assessments for extreme weather and storm surge, especially as these impacts combine with sea level rise, will continue to be an important area of research in order to develop the appropriate information to maintain and build infrastructure along the coastal region.

Improved projections of sea level rise for Canada’s coastlines are in progress with Fisheries and Oceans Canada through the Regional Mean Sea-Level Rise Scenarios for the Canadian Coasts program, which will produce four regional sea level scenarios (from low to high) for the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic coasts [30]. These data will improve the ability of regions, communities, and sectors to manage infrastructure and development in a way that facilitates effective adaptation to the risks associated with sea level changes. Sea level rise projections [36] have been produced at decadal time periods through to 2100 and are included in this report (see Maps section), but are at a coarse scale and not at a fine scale for in-shore waters. Forthcoming marine connectivity analyses will help to identify communities that are highly dependent on marine infrastructure and would be very vulnerable to disruption [118].

There is ongoing work through Fisheries and Oceans Canada to develop a hind-castwave model for coastal BC waters (expected in 2 years), which will characterize storm surge patterns across the coast and fill data gaps in the northern coast where tide gauges are sparse (T. James, Natural Resources Canada, pers. comm. June 2017). The Canadian Geodetic Survey is also working to develop sea level rise projections for Canada’s coastal areas, but results are not yet available (T. James, Natural Resources Canada, pers. comm. June 2017).

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