What has been happening?
Tide gauges along the Northumberland Strait in New Brunswick have measured water height since the early 1970s. Sea water levels are continuously affected by tides, and sometimes by storm surges. The highest water levels occur when storm surges coincide with high tides. These extreme water level events have always occurred along New Brunswick’s coasts, but their frequency and severity appear to be increasing. For example, extreme high water events have increased in magnitude and frequency since the year 2000.
Why is it important?
Extreme high water level events can significantly impact the health and safety of New Brunswickers, coastal infrastructure, and coastal ecosystems. These events often lead to major flooding and coastal erosion. In many cases, local emergency response teams are needed to cope with these events. For example, the December 2010 floods caused significant hardship to many New Brunswickers living along the Northumberland Strait.
What is predicted to happen?
First, average sea levels are rising around the world. The average sea level is increasing even faster in New Brunswick due to falling land levels (which is caused by a process called crustal subsidence). Second, the frequency and severity of storm surges are expected to increase with climate change. When combined, these two factors are expected to lead to both new record high water levels and more frequent flooding events.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada