Modeling Present and Future Physical Coastal Vulnerability to Climate Change: North Shore, Prince Edward Island
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The IPCC has identified small islands and coastal zones among regions most vulnerable to climate change. The geomorphological characteristics of Prince Edward Island (PEI), such as highly erodible sandstone bedrock and low elevation, contribute to a high degree of physical vulnerability to climate change. The province is highly susceptible to physical impacts of climate change including relative sea-level rise and increased rates of coastline retreat. In order to assess the physical coastal vulnerability of the ParCA study area of the North Shore, PEI, a model employing Geographic Information Systems (GIS), multi-criteria evaluation (MCE), and time step analysis is formulated. The physical vulnerability of the North Shore for the year 2010 was quantified in terms of wind-wave exposure condition, morphological resiliency, and permanent and episodic flood risk. These results are employed as model inputs to predict the shoreline for the subsequent time steps (2050, 2100), which are again analyzed to estimate future physical coastal vulnerability. Such an approach allows for updated predictions in intent to improve accuracy when compared to linear extrapolation. Finally, areas of highest priority for adaptation measures are quantified for each time step. This physical vulnerability analysis together with community-based and socioeconomic coastal vulnerability analyses will portray the comprehensive vulnerability of the North Shore to current and future effects of climate change.