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Storms and erosion, “new normal” in New Brunswick

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jan15,2024

Two winter storms in one week shook the province, causing damage.

Storms and erosion, 'new normal' in the New -Brunswick

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A large chunk of land was lost with Wednesday's storm in the Pigeon Hill area, on Lamèque Island.


Two winter storms in one week shook New Brunswick. The power of last Wednesday's bad weather, combined with the storm surge and the absence of protective ice, caused a lot of damage along the coasts in the north of the province.

In certain places, pieces of dunes have disappeared and the sea has moved a little closer to the houses.

What was abnormal becomes the new normal, observed Guillaume Fortin, a geography professor at the University of Moncton, during an interview with Téléjournal Acadie, Sunday.

Storms are not a new phenomenon in the Maritimes, but climate change has introduced new variables.

It has already been seen in the last decades: less and less snow during the cold period, underlines the specialist in climate change and natural risks.

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With Wednesday's storm, the sea came even closer to the houses along certain coasts of the Acadian Peninsula.

What once fell as snow will fall as rain. Episodes of rain and mild spells in periods that didn't have any, it's certain that it's going to happen more and more, he says. These are major trends that we can expect in the long term.

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This week we also observed a lack of ice on the watercourses. This does not bode well, since we are supposed to be around the coldest period of winter.

Guillaume Fortin does not believe all that remains is to shrug your shoulders. We cannot directly act on phenomena, we undergo them, he agrees.

We are not powerless, we must take action, he says. The first step to take is what he calls mitigation, that is, reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The more we reduce our emissions, the less we will need to move on to the other stage, which is adaptation, he continues.

This adaptation results in particular in protective structures, less construction in flood-prone areas and the conservation of wooded areas in urban areas.

He advocates maintaining trees, to neutralize the phenomenon of heat islands. We go to a park, it's like an island of freshness, illustrates Guillaume Fortin.

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Guillaume Fortin, professor of geography at the University of Moncton, in an interview Sunday with Téléjournal Acadie.

Forest areas act as a buffer and will reduce the temperature in urban areas in different ways. For example, through evapotranspiration, reducing air temperature. Also by the shadow effect, reduce the temperature on the ground, he says.

What is distressing, on the other hand, “We see that there is still a lot of deforestation,” he laments. We really saw an acceleration. For example, between 2016 and 2022 we had approximately 8.5% of forest areas in Greater Moncton cut down, while it was 11% for the previous eight years.

Importantly, Guillaume Fortin wants measures that are adapted to the climate of the Atlantic provinces.

These are not necessarily the measures that are put in place in Montreal or Vancouver are not necessarily the best measures to put in place in Moncton, Saint-Jean or Edmundston.

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Rocks littered the access path leading to the Le Goulet quay, near from Shippagan, last Wednesday.

Drought, a phenomenon not often associated with the maritime provinces, is increasing. Almost 50% of the water we use comes from surface wells, underlines Guillaume Fortin.

In 2020, it&#x27 ;was the 2nd driest year in 50 years in New Brunswick. There are many people in the countryside who lacked water because the wells were dry.

The adaptation of societies to climate change is also an economic challenge whose consequences are difficult to predict.

Guillaume Fortin discusses changes in agriculture, forestry and transport. Perhaps there will be less need to put abrasives on the roads and clear snow. Perhaps, on the other hand, we will have to invest more in the roads which were washed away by the floods.

According to the information from Janic Godin

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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