PEI's eroding coastline

A new geovisualization tool created by researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) demonstrates the effects of erosion and sea-level rise on Prince Edward Island’s coastline and the potential vulnerable areas in the future. The tool, Coastal Impact Visualization Environment, or CLIVE, is a collaborative research initiative connecting UPEI’s Climate Research Lab with SFU’s Spatial Interface Research Lab.

“CLIVE at first looks like some sort of video game that allows you to manipulate and interact with a three-dimensional map of Prince Edward Island, but it is not a game,” said Dr. Adam Fenech, director of UPEI’s Climate Research Lab. “CLIVE allows users to interactively explore the province’s coastlines and simulate sea-level rise and storm surge scenarios. It is a powerful tool.”

 (Watch this feature on CLIVE by the Globe and Mail)

CLIVE brings together data from a number of sources, including LiDAR-based high-resolution digital elevation data from the province. The Island also has an outstanding record of province-wide aerial photographs that that go back as far as 1968.

“CLIVE is great exemplar of a new generation of analytical geovisualization interfaces that make important scientific models engaging, interactive and navigable,” said Dr. Hedley, director of SFU’s Spatial Interface Research Lab. “CLIVE is one of the first public communication tools to enable citizens to interactively view historical evidence, current data, and predictive models of linked coastal impacts for an entire province. We hope that CLIVE will be informative for PEI’s citizens and government, supporting constructive dialogue and planning to mitigate these threats.”

CLIVE demonstrates evidence of erosion that has already occurred and paints a troubling picture for the future of the Prince Edward Island coastline.

“Our study shows that Prince Edward Island lost 20 square kilometres of land to erosion between 1968 and 2010,” said Dr. Fenech. “At the current rate of erosion, as many as a thousand homes are vulnerable to erosion over the next 90 years.”

Charlottetown: This image from CLIVE shows present-day CharlottetownCharlottetown: This image from CLIVE shows present-day Charlottetown

Charlottetown: This image simulates Charlottetown under 3 meters of sea-level rise (1 meter is expected by 2100, with a 2 meter storm surge)Charlottetown: This image simulates Charlottetown under 3 meters of sea-level rise (1 meter is expected by 2100, with a 2 meter storm surge)