Coastlines are the boundary between land and sea. In Canada, the coastal zone is home to large populations, valuable infrastructure, and unique and sensitive coastal environments and biological habitats. Significant trade flows through Canada’s ports on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In the North, many communities are located on the coast and limited road and rail links require marine transportation of supplies and equipment. NRCan is studying coastlines to understand the sensitivity of the coastal zone to present and projected future climate conditions. Coastal geoscience knowledge informs policy for maintaining and developing robust coastal infrastructure and resilient communities.

The geological materials comprising coastlines range from resistant bedrock to gravel, sand, and mud. Permafrost (perennially frozen ground) is a significant component of many northern coastlines. Canada's coastal zone has varying sensitivity to the present-day climate (air and water temperatures, winds, waves, sea ice) and vulnerability to projected future climates. NRCan studies of coastlines include mapping of shore-zone morphology, materials, hazards, and processes and their rates of change. NRCan’s sea-level projections take local conditions into account and show variable sea-level change in different locations. In the north, warming conditions, thawing permafrost and the changing extent and seasonal duration of sea ice are important factors in evaluating coastline sensitivity. Coastal geoscience information contributes to adaptation strategies to reduce the risk to coastal assets arising from the present-day environment and projected future climate conditions.


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