New tool demonstrates effects of erosion, sea-level rise on P.E.I. coast

Published on February 11, 2014

Adam Fenech, second right, director of UPEI’s climate research lab, demonstrates a new tool to demonstrate the effects of coastal erosion to P.E.I. Environment Minister Janice Sherry as Andrew Doiron, left, research assistant with the climate lab looks on.

©Photo special to The Guardian

A new tool created by researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island and Simon Fraser University demonstrates the effects of erosion and sea-level rise on Prince Edward Island’s coastline.

The tool is called the Coastal Impact Visualization Environment, or CLIVE.

“CLIVE at first looks like some sort of video game that allows you to manipulate and interact with a three-dimensional map of Prince Edward Island, but it is not a game,” said Adam Fenech, director of UPEI’s climate research lab.

He said CLIVE allows users to interactively explore the province’s coastlines and simulate sea-level rise and storm surge scenarios.

“It is a powerful tool,” he said.

CLIVE brings together data from a number of sources, including LiDAR-based high-resolution digital elevation data from the province. The Island also has an outstanding record of province-wide aerial photographs that go back as far as 1968.

“CLIVE is one of the first public communication tools to enable citizens to interactively view historical evidence, current data, and predictive models of linked coastal impacts for an entire province,” said Nick Hedley, director of SFU’s spatial interface research lab.

“We hope that CLIVE will be informative for P.E.I.’s citizens and government, supporting constructive dialogue and planning to mitigate these threats.”

CLIVE demonstrates evidence of erosion that has already occurred and paints a troubling picture for the future of the Prince Edward Island coastline.

“Our study shows that Prince Edward Island lost 20 square kilometres of land to erosion between 1968 and 2010,” said Fenech.

“At the current rate of erosion, as many as a thousand homes are vulnerable to erosion over the next 90 years.”

Fenech will do a live demonstration of CLIVE at a lecture tonight at 7 p.m., in the amphitheatre of the Duffy Science Centre.

The presentation, Coastal Erosion and Sea Level Rise — Preparing for Prince Edward Island’s Future, will discuss how our buildings, roads, communities and bridges will be affected by coastal erosion and sea-level rise.