4.8 The Bay of Fundy and the tides of climate change

1 Introduction – The Bay of Fundy and climate change adaptation

The Bay of Fundy, situated between the provinces of New-Brunswick and Nova Scotia (figure 1), presents a unique hydrological, geological and ecological environment. The almost rectangular basin at the end of the Gulf of Maine stems from the presence of an ancient rift valley. The record tides are world famous, causing 115 billion tonnes of water to flow across the bay twice a day. The high biological productivity of the Bay forms the substrate for the rich marine and avian life. Human occupation dates back to the very end of the ice age, about 10 000 years ago. Europeans first came into the Bay of Fundy in 1604. Today, the Bay of Fundy has a major importance for shipping, fishing and as a touristic attraction. Some population centers (Moncton, Saint-John, Amherst, etc.) and some important industrial sites (Saint-John Irving refinery, Pointe-Lepreau nuclear generating station, Annapolis tidal power plant, etc.) are located on its shore. The value of the Bay of Fundy’s unique natural setting and ecosystems has been underlined by the creation of a UNESCO biosphere reserve, in addition to the Fundy Bay national park and other conservation zones and migrating bird sanctuaries.

The Bay of Fundy, delineated in the South by an imaginary line running from Little River head, near Cutler, Maine, to Cape Saint Mary, near Mavillette, NS.

Figure 1. The Bay of Fundy, delineated in the South by an imaginary line running from Little River head, near Cutler, Maine, to Cape Saint Mary, near Mavillette, NS.

Google Maps, 2016

Climate change is affecting the region through an increase in temperatures, in the frequency of severe storms, in sea levels and in erosion rates. Communities has suffered from flooding and from other impacts of climate change and are now moving towards adapting to climate change, through protection, emergency planning and considerations surrounding long-term planning and development. In this case study, we present two examples of collaborative adaptation planning involving municipalities, universities and diverse stakeholders. The way in which the community is involved in the two projects is quite different and offers an interesting comparison of these two different modes of community participation in scientific assessments of climate related risks. In both cases, the collaborative research projects lead not only to the advancement of science and knowledge relevant for planning, but also in a wider mobilization of the concerned communities towards the ongoing process of climate change adaptation.