by Bruce Wark
Sea levels in Nova Scotia are expected to rise sharply over the next century —- anywhere between 70 and 140 centimetres. (Or between two feet, three inches and four feet, seven inches.) Those figures are contained in The 2009 State of Nova Scotia's Coast Report released today in Halifax.
The report says global sea levels have been rising since the peak of the last ice age 20,000 years ago. They're also rising because the regional land mass is sinking. But the report warns that climate warming is sharply accelerating the rate of sea level rise.
"It's an overarching issue," says Justin Huston, Coastal Zone Coordinator for the provincial department of Fisheries and Acquaculture. "It affects where we live and where we build." Huston explained that 70 percent of Nova Scotia's population lives in coastal communities, but he acknowledged that the province doesn't have much information yet on specific threats posed by rising sea levels.
The report on the state of Nova Scotia's coast is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada. Huston says the province hopes to come up with a comprehensive plan for preserving and protecting the 13,300 kilometres of Nova Scotia coastline over the next year. The government plans to hold extensive public consultations to discuss such issues as rising sea levels, public access to coastal areas, coastal development and the preservation of coastal ecosystems.