Sea Level Rise

In the last 100 years, global sea-levels rose between 10 – 20 centimetres. It is projected that average global sea-levels will rise 10 – 90 centimetres between 1990 and 2100 due to the melting of ice caps and glaciers (IPCC, 2001). An increase in sea-level will result in increased erosion and a loss of coastal ecosystems, including wetlands and spawning grounds for fish. Increased sea-levels will also impact the infrastructure and safety of coastal Indigenous communities a result of increased risks from storm surges.

Vulnerable areas in Canada include the Fraser River Delta, the Beaufort Sea Region, and much of the Atlantic region (Shaw et al., 1998; Environment Canada, 2006; Meteorological Service Canada (MSC), 2005). For example, there are over 30 Indigenous communities in the Atlantic region, over 20 of which are located close to the coast and could be seriously affected by a sea-level rise. These low-lying areas are extremely sensitive to flooding from seawater, having ecosystems with salt marshes, barrier beaches, and lagoons that are habitats for many biological species.