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For more than two decades, Patricia Manuel has watched the waters rise around her.
Whether in Atlantic Canada, the Netherlands, Iceland or along the eastern seaboard, the environmental planner has witnessed the range of damage done by encroaching tides, storm surges and rising water levels in coastal communities now increasingly vulnerable to oceans in flux.
Tally - Losses - Everything - Boardwalk - Tides
The tally of losses includes everything from the ordinary to the exceptional: a newly built boardwalk swamped by swelling tides in western Newfoundland; drowned forests; a wharf submerged during the highest tides in a seaside Nova Scotia village, where rising water levels now encroach on historic shoreline buildings—often the heart of coastal towns now at increasing risk of tidal and storm surge flooding. Or the impact on her hometown of Halifax, where potent hurricanes have sent water surging onto the city's picturesque shoreline, damaging buildings, ripping up wharfs and flooding a road that feeds traffic into the downtown core, despite seawalls meant to fend off the rising tides.
For Dr. Manuel, a professor at Dalhousie University's School of Planning, they are all just signs of the growing threat posed by sea level rise and the pressing need for coastal communities to prepare for it. "Tides are reaching further in land at their highest extent," she says. "The tidal zone is moving land-ward and that means that areas where the tide had not previously reached are now being inundated."
Gravity - Challenge - Report - United - Intergovernmental
The gravity of the challenge was recently outlined in an exhaustive report by the United Nations-led Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which issued a stark warning about how the unprecedented rate of rise will only worsen if little is done to stem greenhouse-gas emissions and global warming.
The report found that the global sea level rose by around 15 centimetres during the 20th century, but "is currently rising more than twice as...
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