term impact of weather on coastline
7, 2000, Gazette)
Living on the Avalon Peninsula means living with the weather.
The rain, the fog, the snow, and the storms that this area constantly
experiences are very familiar. But how does our coastal climate
affect life on the Avalon in the long run? That is a question
that Dr. Norm Catto of the Department of Geography is attempting
Catto, an associate professor, is the editor of Quaternary International,
the official journal of the International Quaternary Association,
and a member of the Environmental Studies Board at Memorial.
In cooperation with Dave Liverman of Newfoundland Provincial
Mines and Energy and Don Forbes of the Federal Geological survey
of Canada, he is working under funding from the Climate Change
Action Fund to study weather patterns in the Conception Bay South
federally-funded project is designed to assist in the study of
the effects of climate change and variability on the environment
and to assess its results. Dr. Catto and his colleagues were
awarded the grant in June. However, research in the Conception
Bay area has been ongoing since 1982. Dr. Catto has been involved
since 1989 when he first came to Newfoundland.
Dr. Catto points out, the study is not designed to support scientists,
rather it is a result-based venture that serves to bring together
information on climate and weather patterns that has already
been collected. It involves compiling and analyzing the data
on storms in the area from several different sources. These include
aerial photographs, topographic maps, and interviews with residents
of CBS. Along with this existing data, Dr. Catto and his colleagues
- who have been both undergraduate and graduate students here
at Memorial - are also involved in extensive field work.
going out and monitoring the beaches. Weve mapped and measured
the beaches as they currently exist, in detail, and that gives
us a picture of what the beach system looks like right now. Then
we go back in the day after a storm occurs and well map
and measure in the same areas again.
this type of work, Dr. Catto can suggest how storms of given
wind velocities and direction will effect the coastline based
on how they have in the past. This information will certainly
be useful to the residents of CBS. As a result of this research,
people can be given rates and hard facts about the direct impact
of climate on coastal morphology.
results of the research are quite astounding. It appears that
our coastline is decreasing quite rapidly.
best estimates right now are that sea level is rising at least
two mm a year, maybe as much as six mm a year, which is fast,
said Dr. Catto.
is the kind of information that Dr. Catto believes is important
to communicate to people.
nobody tells you what the likelihood of coastal problems, like
erosion and flooding, is, then you dont know. Its
our job as scientists to present this information so that they
can make a decision.
Conception Bay South area is an ideal spot for this type of research
as it is a very diverse area. It is not rural, nor is it urban.
It has a wide variety of economic interests, and a variety of
lifestyles. The development pressure on the area means that it
is important to know how the land will react to storms in the
Dr. Cattos research is for the benefit of the residents
of the CBS area. As a result of his work, the people of that
area will be properly informed with regard to present and future
development possibilities and outcomes.
to Dr. Catto, From a scientific standpoint, we know the
coastline very well ... we have almost 60 years of aerial photographs
to study. What is missing is that the information is not getting
from scientists to the people who have to live with the consequences.
If I dont communicate this information to the town council
of CBS, I may as well have been working on the planet Venus.