Erosion (Coastal)

Coastal erosion is a natural process that consists of the breakdown of rock and sediments at the shoreline, both above and below the water surface. In Atlantic Canada, coastal erosion happens due to the action of waves, and to a lesser extent tidal action, wind, storm surge, ice, rain, and surface runoff.

Rates of erosion and deposition are different at various points on the coast. Factors such as exposure and tides can influence the degree to which a shoreline may erode. The type of shoreline, and the type of sediment of which it is composed, are also influential: cliffs, beaches, barrier systems, and salt marshes resist erosion to different degrees.

Changes to climatic conditions and sea-level will also influence the rates of erosion and deposition. Human activities can also affect rates of coastal change. Climate change is expected to result in a rise in sea level and a reduction in sea ice, which will likely increase the rates of erosion in many locations along our coasts.

Coastal erosion will continue to have an impact on coastal communities in the region, and a range of adaptation options should be considered. Many coastal communities will face the decision either to protect the shoreline against erosion through engineering or nature-based approaches, or to retreat and relocate.

Shoreline movement

Below are examples of shoreline movement in the Acadian Peninsula between 1944 and 2012. Move the arrows to see the difference:

Caraquet, NB
Pigeon Hill, NB
Saint-Marie-Saint-Raphaël, NB
Saint-Marie-Saint-Raphaël, NB
Anse-Bleue, NB
Chemin des chalets, Maisonnette, NB
Dune de Maisonnette, NB

Further Reading:

Coastal Erosion and Climate Change (2011). Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions Association.  Retrieved from:  


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