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Coastal Zone Erosion

Erosion along the coastline is a natural process. Waves and currents remove materials such as mud, sand or gravel from cliffs and beaches, transporting and depositing them in other areas. Depending on the severity of the erosion in the coastal area, unprotected infrastructure such as roads, buildings or wharves may be damaged or undermined as the coast retreats or breaks down.

Climate change is expected to increase the rate of erosion in a number of ways. Increased storm activity associated with climate change also means increased pounding wave action along the coast and further erosion. Rising sea level exposes new areas of coast to wave action. Climate change is impacting the development of sea ice along the coast. Sea ice and ice foot developments serve to protect coastlines from wave erosion and a decline in sea ice increases the vulnerability of the coast.

Coastal erosion is not expected to be as significant a problem in this province as in other areas, such as Prince Edward Island where coastal land is primarily sandstone and extremely susceptible to erosion. However, there are areas in this province (eg. coastline between Stephenville and the Port au Port Peninsula, Conception Bay South or Greenspond) where erosion has been observed. In vulnerable areas, erosion and the potential impacts of climate change should be included as a consideration in development planning.

Topsail Beach

Topsail Beach. Coastal erosion with slope failure Topsail Beach. Coastal erosion with slope failure
Photo credit: Norm Catto, Department of Geography, MUN

Placentia Bay

Ice foot development on beach in Placentia Bay. Protects beach from erosion. Ice foot development on beach in Placentia Bay. Protects beach from erosion.
Photo credit: Norm Catto, Department of Geography, MUN

Chamberlains, Conception Bay before 2000

Chamberlains, Conception Bay. Photo taken before series of storms in 1992.
Photo credit: Martin Goebel, NL Department of Environment

Chamberlains, Conception Bay after 2000

Chamberlains, Conception Bay after storms in 1992. Photos show active erosion of beach.
Photo credit: Martin Goebel, NL Department of Environment

 
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