American and Canadian climate change researchers are on P.E.I. this week to consider some of the complex issues raised by the impact of post-tropical storm Fiona on the Island.
UPEI’s Canadian Centre for Climate Change and Adaptation is hosting a climate forum Friday in St. Peter’s Bay.
Forum participants will discuss the challenges and potential opportunities for future climate research, said Prof. Xander Wang of the School of Climate Change and Adaptation at UPEI.
While many Islanders know about coastal erosion, there many other ways P.E.I. is being affected by climate change, said Wang.
“We also have changing climate patterns, which are affecting our fisheries, potato farmers and also our tourism,” said Wang.
“It’s really time for us to think about how do we move forward to adapt to or maybe mitigate these kind of changes so that we can sustain our environment and sustain our economy.”
Visiting researchers were taken on a tour across P.E.I. on Wednesday and Thursday, visiting sites damaged by post-tropical storm Fiona last September. That included Cavendish and Greenwich Beach to see how forests and sand dune systems were affected.
“It’s actually great for them to see the real issues we are facing,” Wang said.
“We can inspire them to talk more about potential solutions and potential research collaborations.”
‘We really need to work together’
Prof. Danika van Proosdij, a coastal geomorphologist at St. Mary’s University in Halifax, was particularly interested in how the sand dunes responded to the storm.
Her research is focused on how to build more resilient coastal communities by restoring natural ecosystems and using nature-based solutions.
Those solutions might include adding sediment to beaches to help them recover from damage, restoring sand dunes or constructing tidal wetlands, she said.
“The Island is really, really vulnerable [with] very high rates of erosion,” said van Proosdij.
“If we work together with the natural ecosystems that are there…they can in turn help protect those coastal communities.”
But she said it’s important to remember that P.E.I. actually needs some erosion, because soil erosion distributes nutrients to aquatic ecosystems.
Mitigating the impact of climate change on P.E.I. is going to be complex, said van Proosdij and Wang, requiring cooperation from researchers from a number of disciplines to sort through the issues.
Source CBC News