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Fiona’s force causes months worth of erosion


Post-tropical storm Fiona caused heavy coastal erosion across the Maritimes over the weekend, well beyond its normal rate.

"Dunes and sandy beaches are the most susceptible to the drastic change during a storm event,” said Will Balser, coastal adaptation coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax.

"It can do months worth of erosion and sedimentation transportation in a matter of hours," Balser said.

Dunes can take two to five years to recover, ones that are further inland and higher up may never return to their prior location.

"We are running out of wild coastline areas that are undeveloped or at least un-impacted by human infrastructure,” Balser said.

"Most of these pinch points particularly between roads and where shorelines naturally retreat and erode inland," he said.

Not only will it impact human infrastructure, but also the ecological system along the coast.

"Species, both animals and plants that would live on the dunes are deprived of their habitat, dunes also provide natural protection to the coast,” said Jeffrey Ollerhead, a coastal geomorphologist at Mount Allison University.

In many cases, coastal erosion on the regions beaches isn't anything new.

"For some locations its critical now and it's been critical for decades in some locations,” Ollerhead said.

"The dunes at Parlee Beach for example were heavily eroded and 'cliffed,' during a storm surge in 2000," he said.

Moving infrastructure away from the shore, rebuilding inland, and preventing future building in high risk areas could be the best answer to support shorelines.

"Some places along the Northumberland Strait especially, lose several feet of depth per year,” Balser said.

"So we really can't continue to build in these ever-changing landscapes," he said.

Rebuilding in the same location after storm damage may have to become a thing of the past.

"I guess it says that people are prepared to take the risks located in that zone,” Ollerhead said.

"I assume continue to operate knowing that their structure is going to be at increasing risk as sea level rises and as these kinds of storms most likely become more frequent and more intense," he said. Top Stories

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