A storm surge from the Atlantic Ocean hits a break wall in Cow Bay, N.S., on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018. (Darren Calabrese/Reuters)

'This is a wake-up call:' swift action needed on rising seas, experts say

Changing Climate Report says East Coast sea levels could rise 75 cm to 1 metre in next century

Worrying figures released this week on the rising seas in Atlantic Canada should prompt governments and citizens to move more swiftly to protect coastal buildings and vital transport links, say flooding experts.

Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo, said in an interview Friday that projections of 75 centimetres to one metre of relative sea level rise for the East Coast by the end of the century are "a wake up call and a call to arms."

He was reacting to Chapter 7 of Canada's Changing Climate Report, which includes a survey of federal science on sea level rise under various emissions scenarios developed by Environment and Climate Change Canada.

Feltmate points to the study's predictions for quadrupling of flooding along the Halifax waterfront as sea levels rise 20 centimetres over current levels by mid century.

Blair Greenan, a federal oceanographer who oversaw the oceans chapter of the report, said in an interview that without any adaptation measures, flooding during Halifax storms will be noticeable in just a decade as relative sea level goes up about 10 centimetres.

"It will probably have doubled," he said during an interview. "It is an important point that southern Atlantic Canada is the highest risk area in Canada for sea level rise."

Blair Greenan is a federal oceanographer.  (CBC)

The Atlantic region is facing a dual effect of rising seas and falling coastlines, says the study.

It notes that while in much of the country the coast is rebounding from glaciation — helping counter sea level rise — the eastern coasts are continuing to sink.

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