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Donald L. Forbes

Geological Survey of Canada
Natural Resources Canada
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
PO Box 1006 (1 Challenger Drive)
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 4A2

Tel: (902) 426-7737
Fax: (902) 426-6152

Senior Research Scientist and Adjunct Professor. BA (Honours) Carleton University; MA University of Toronto; PhD University of British Columbia.

Work Experience and Research Interests

I have worked as a consultant in the private sector, as a lecturer at the University of British Columbia, as a research associate at Uppsala University in Sweden, as a flume lab technologist at the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), and part-time as a lab demonstrator and janitor in my student days. I also worked as a student field assistant with the Arctic Institute of North America in the St. Elias Mountains and with the Geological Survey of Canada on Baffin Island, on Melville Island, and in the Mackenzie Delta. I came to the Atlantic Geoscience Centre (now GSC-Atlantic) at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography as a research scientist in 1981.

I am a strong advocate of interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to research. Geography as a discipline is particularly relevant today as the need grows for applied science input to public policy, hazard assessment, adaptation planning, and sustainable development. My research interests include:

Research Interests

  • Quaternary geology
  • marine geology
  • fluvial and marine sediment dynamics
  • coastal morphodynamics
  • large-scale coastal evolution
  • climate change and paleo-environments
  • sea-level rise
  • crustal uplift and subsidence
  • coastal hazards
  • impacts of climate change
  • adaptation strategies for building resilience in coastal communities.

Study areas have ranged from the Yukon coast and Mackenzie Delta area to the central and eastern Arctic, Hudson Bay, Lake Winnipeg, eastern Québec, the Atlantic Provinces, and Ireland. In the mid 1990s, I was seconded to the South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission, conducting applied research on coastal management issues in Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, and the Cook Islands. Over the past decade, I have been involved in projects on coastal impacts of climate change in the Canadian Arctic and Atlantic Provinces. In 2005-2006, I was the program manager for climate-change research activities in the Earth Sciences Sector of Natural Resources Canada.

I have been a Lead Author on Working Group II of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Third and Fourth Assessments) and an Expert Reviewer for Working Group I. I am a Network Investigator and Project Leader in the ArcticNet Network of Centres of Excellence and collaborating on coastal topographic and bathymetric LiDAR development in the GEOIDE Network of Centres of Excellence. Early in 2005, I was involved in the UNESCO-coordinated scientific response to the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

I serve on the Editorial Boards of Marine Geology (1997-present) and the Journal of Coastal Research, (1990-present). My research has been funded by: Earth Sciences Sector (Natural Resources Canada), Canadian International Development Agency, Environment Canada, Parks Canada Agency, Canadian Space Agency, Canadian Transportation Safety Board, the Inter¬departmental Recovery Fund, Office of Energy Research and Development, the Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Directorate (Natural Resources Canada), the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Japan International Development Agency, Networks of Centres of Excellence (GEOIDE and ArcticNet), and other sources, with in-kind support from the Governments of Fiji, Kiribati, Niue, Cook Islands, Eire, and Seychelles, and from numerous provincial, territorial, and university partners.

Selected Publications

  • Henton, J.A., Craymer, M.R., Dragert ,H., Mazzotti, S., Ferland, R. and Forbes, D.L. 2006. Crustal motion and deformation monitoring of the Canadian landmass. Geomatica, submitted.
  • Webster, T.L., Forbes, D.L., MacKinnon, E. and Roberts, D. 2006. Flood-risk mapping for storm-surge events and sea-level rise using LiDAR for southeast New Brunswick. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, in press.
  • Xhardé, R., Long, B.F. and Forbes, D.L. 2006. Accuracy and limitations of airborne LiDAR surveys in coastal environments. Proceedings, International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium and 27th Canadian Symposium on Remote Sensing, Denver, 4 p.
  • Xhardé, R., Boucher, M., Long, B.F. and Forbes, D.L. 2006. Significance of LiDAR return signal intensities in coastal zone mapping applications. Proceedings, International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium and 27th Canadian Symposium on Remote Sensing, Denver, 4 p.
  • Forbes, D.L. 2005. Coastal erosion. In: Encyclopedia of the Arctic (Nuttall, M., editor). Routledge, New York and London, 1, 391-393.
  • O’Reilly, C.T., Forbes, D.L. and Parkes, G.S. 2005. Defining and adapting to coastal hazards in Atlantic Canada: facing the challenge of rising sea levels, storm surges and shoreline erosion in a changing climate. Ocean Yearbook, 19, 189-207.
  • Manson, G.K., Forbes, D.L., Armenakis, C. and Savopol, F. 2005. Remote measurements of coastal change using QuickBird, Ikonos, and aerial photography, Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, Canada. In: Proceedings, 8th International Conference on Remote Sensing for Marine and Coastal Environments Halifax, 8 p. (on CD-ROM).
  • Forbes, D.L. 2005. Paraglacial coasts. In: Encyclopedia of Coastal Science (Schwartz, M.L., editor). Springer, Dordrecht, 760-762.
  • Manson, G.K., Solomon, S.M., Forbes, D.L., Atkinson, D.E. and Craymer, M. 2005. Spatial variability of factors influencing coastal change in the western Canadian Arctic. Geo-Marine Letters, 25, 138-145.
  • Jackson, L.E., Jr., Barrie, J.V., Forbes, D.L., Shaw, J., Manson, G.K. and Schmidt, M. 2005. Effects of the 26 December 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami in the Republic of Seychelles. Report of the Canada-UNESCO Indian Ocean Expedition, 18 January – 5 February 2005. Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 4539, 73 p. [available on-line at]
  • Forbes, D.L. 2004. Ice-bonded sediments and massive ground ice in a transgressive barrier-lagoon and delta complex, Yukon coast of Beaufort Sea, western Arctic Canada. Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union, 85 (7), Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract C13A-0267.
  • Forbes, D.L. 2004. Climate-change impacts in the coastal zone: implications for engineering practice. Proceedings, GéoQuébec 2004, 57th Canadian Geotechnical Conference, Québec, 8 p. on CD-ROM.
  • Forbes, D.L., Parkes, G.S., Manson, G.K. and Ketch, L.A. 2004. Storms and shoreline retreat in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Marine Geology, 210, 169-204.
  • Webster, T.L., Forbes, D.L., Dickie, S. & Shreenan, R. 2004. Using topographic lidar to map flood risk from storm-surge events for Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Canadian Journal of Remote Sensing, 30 (1), 64-76.
  • Forbes, D.L., Manson, G.K., Chagnon, R., Solomon, S.M., van der Sanden, J.J. and Lynds, T.L. 2002. Nearshore ice and climate change in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. In: Ice in the environment. Proceedings 16th IAHR International Symposium on Ice, Dunedin, New Zealand, 1, 344-351.
  • McLean, R.F., Tsyban, A., Burkett, V., Codignotto, J.O., Forbes, D.L., Mimura, N., Beamish, R.J. and Ittekkot, V. 2001. Coastal zones and marine ecosystems. In Climate change 2001: impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Assessment Report, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (McCarthy, J.J., Canziani, O.F., Leary, N.A., Dokken, D.J. & White, K.S., editors). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 343-379.
  • McCulloch, M., Forbes, D.L., Shaw, R.W. and A041 Scientific Team. 2002. Coastal impacts of climate change and sea-level rise on Prince Edward Island (Forbes, D.L. & Shaw, R.W., eds). Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 4261, 62 p. and 11 supporting documents (672 p. on 1 CD-ROM).
  • Orford, J.D., Forbes, D.L. and Jennings, S.C. 2002. Organisational controls, typologies and time scales of paraglacial gravel-dominated coastal systems. Geomorphology, 48, 51-85.
  • Héquette, A., Desrosiers, M., Hill, P.R. and Forbes, D.L. 2001. The influence of coastal morphology on shoreface sediment transport under storm-combined flows, Canadian Beaufort Sea. Journal of Coastal Research, 17, 507-516.
  • Lewis, C.F.M., Forbes, D.L., Todd, B.J., Nielsen, E., Thorleifson, L.H. and 19 others. 2001. Uplift-driven expansion delayed by middle Holocene desiccation in Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Geology, 29, 743-746.
  • Forbes, D.L., Todd, B.J., Lewis, C.F.M., Thorleifson, L.H. and Nielsen, E. 2000. Seismo¬stratigraphy and lakebed morphology. In 1996 Lake Winnipeg Project: cruise report and scientific results (Todd, B. J., Lewis, C. F. M., Forbes, D. L., Thorleifson, L. H. and Nielsen, E., editors). Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3470, 93-123.
  • Forbes, D. L. 2000. Lake Winnipeg shoreline evolution: barrier growth and shore profile recession. In 1996 Lake Winnipeg Project: cruise report and scientific results (Todd, B. J., Lewis, C. F. M., Forbes, D. L., Thorleifson, L. H. and Nielsen, E., editors). Geological Survey of Canada, Open File 3470, 361-399.
  • Orford, J.D., Jennings, S.C. and Forbes, D.L. 2000. Origin, development, reworking and breakdown of gravel-dominated coastal barriers in Atlantic Canada: future scenarios for the British coast. Chapter 2 in Ecology and geomorphology of coastal shingle. Smith-Settle, Otley, UK, 23-55.
  • Solomon, S.M. and Forbes, D.L. 1999. Coastal hazards and associated management issues on South Pacific islands. Coastal & Ocean Management, 42, 523-554.
  • Shaw, J., Forbes, D. L. and Edwardson, K. A. 1999. Surficial sediments and placer gold on the inner shelf and coast of northeast Newfoundland. Geological Survey of Canada, Bulletin 532, 96 p., appendix, and 2 maps.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Solomon, S.M. 1999. Inlet division and coastal instability following tidal prism diversion. In Proceedings, Coastal Sediments 99, Long Island. American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, 1418-1433.
  • Shaw, J., Taylor, R.B., Solomon, S., Christian, H.A., and Forbes, D.L. 1998. Potential impacts of global sea-level rise on Canadian coasts. The Canadian Geographer, 42, 365-379.
  • Shaw, J., Taylor, R.B., Forbes, D.L., Ruz, M.-H. and Solomon, S. 1998. Sensitivity of the coasts of Canada to sea-level rise. Geological Survey of Canada, Bulletin 505, 79 p. & map.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Solomon, S.M. 1997. Approaches to vulnerability assessment on Pacific Island coasts: examples from southeast Viti Levu (Fiji) and South Tarawa (Kiribati). SOPAC, Suva, Miscellaneous Report 277, 21 p.
  • Forbes, D.L., Shaw, J. and Taylor, R.B. 1997. Climate change impacts in the coastal zone of Atlantic Canada. In: Climate variability and climate change in Atlantic Canada (Abraham, J., Canavan, T. & Shaw, R., editors). Environment Canada, Canada Country Study: climate impacts and adaptation, 6, 51-66.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Biribo, N. 1996. Shore-zone sand and gravel of South Tarawa, Kiribati: preliminary assessment of selected sites. SOPAC, Suva, Technical Report 235, 46 p. & appendix.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1996. Coastal geology and hazards of Niue. SOPAC, Suva, Technical Report 233, 100 p. & appendices.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1995. Coastal stability and sand transport, Aitutaki, southern Cook Islands. SOPAC, Suva, Technical Report 226, 45 p. & appendices.
    Forbes, D.L. and Hosoi, Y. 1995. Coastal erosion in South Tarawa, Kiribati. SOPAC, Suva, Technical Report 225, 77 p. & appendices.
  • Shaw, J. and Forbes, D.L. 1995. The post-glacial relative sea-level lowstand in Newfoundland. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 32, 1308-1330.
  • Boczar-Karakiewicz, B., Forbes, D.L. and Drapeau, G. 1995. Nearshore bar development in southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Journal of Waterway, Port, Coastal, & Ocean Engineering, 121, 49-60.
  • Forbes, D.L., Orford, J.D., Carter, R.W.G., Shaw, J. and Jennings, S.C. 1995. Morphodynamic evolution, self-organisation, and instability of coarse-clastic barriers on paraglacial coasts. Marine Geology, 126, 63-85.
  • Forbes, D.L., Shaw, J., and Taylor, R.B. 1995. Differential preservation of coastal structures on paraglacial shelves: Holocene deposits of southeastern Canada. Marine Geology, 124, 187-201.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Taylor, R.B. 1994. Ice in the shore zone and the geomorphology of cold coasts. Progress in Physical Geography, 18, 59-89.
  • Forbes, D.L., Solomon, S.M. and Hamilton, T.S. 1994. Morphology and sedimentary processes of microtidal embayments, Beaufort Sea coast, western Arctic Canada. In Proceedings, Hornafjöður International Coastal Symposium, Höfn (Viggósson, G., editor). Icelandic Harbour Authority, Kópavogur, 363-372.
  • Forbes, D.L., Shaw, J. and Eddy, B.G. 1993. Late Quaternary sedimentation and the postglacial sea-level minimum in Port au Port Bay and vicinity, west Newfoundland. Atlantic Geology, 29, 1-26.
  • Shaw, J., Taylor, R.B. and Forbes, D.L. 1993. Impact of the Holocene transgression on the Atlantic coastline of Nova Scotia. Géographie physique et Quaternaire, 47, 221-238.
  • Shaw, J. and Forbes, D.L. 1992. Barriers, barrier platforms, and spillover deposits in St. George's Bay, Newfoundland: paraglacial sedimentation on the flanks of a deep coastal basin. Marine Geology, 105, 119-140.
  • Orford, J.D., Carter, R.W.G. and Forbes, D.L. 1991. Gravel barrier migration and sea level rise: some observations from Story Head, Nova Scotia, Canada. Journal of Coastal Research, 7, 477-488.
  • Forbes, D.L., Taylor, R.B., Orford, J.D., Carter, R.W.G. and Shaw, J. 1991. Gravel barrier migration and overstepping. Marine Geology, 97, 305-313.
  • Forbes, D.L., Boyd, R. and Shaw, J. 1991. Late Quaternary sedimentation and sea level changes on the inner Scotian Shelf. Continental Shelf Research, 11, 1155-1179.
  • Carter, R.W.G., Orford, J.D., Forbes, D.L. and Taylor, R.B. 1990. Morphosedimentary development of drumlin-flank barriers with rapidly rising sea level, Story Head, Nova Scotia. Sedimentary Geology, 69, 117-138.
  • Shaw, J. and Forbes, D.L. 1990. Relative sea-level change and coastal response, northeast Newfoundland. Journal of Coastal Research, 6, 641-660.
  • Shaw, J., Taylor, R.B. and Forbes, D.L. 1990. Coarse clastic barriers in eastern Canada: patterns of glaciogenic sediment dispersal with rising sea levels. Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue 9, 160-200.
  • Shaw, J. and Forbes, D.L. 1990. Late Quaternary sedimentation in St. George's Bay, southwest Newfoundland: acoustic stratigraphy and seabed deposits. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 27, 964-983.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Drapeau, G. 1989. Near bottom currents and sediment transport on the inner Scotian Shelf: sea floor response to winter storms during CASP. Atmosphere Ocean, 27, 258 278.
  • Forbes, D.L., Taylor, R.B. and Shaw, J. 1989. Shorelines and rising sea levels in eastern Canada. Episodes, 12, 23 28.
  • Carter, R.W.G., Forbes, D.L., Jennings, S.C., Orford, J.D., Shaw, J. and Taylor, R.B. 1989. Barrier and lagoon coast evolution under differing relative sea level regimes: examples from Ireland and Nova Scotia. Marine Geology, 88, 221-242.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Boyd, R. 1989. Submersible observations of surficial sediments and seafloor morphology on the inner Scotian Shelf. In Submersible observations off the east coast of Canada (Piper, D.J.W., editor). Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 88 20, 71 81.
  • Orford, J.D., Carter, R.W.G., Forbes, D.L. and Taylor, R.B. 1988. Overwash occurrence consequent on morphodynamic changes following lagoon outlet closure on a coarse clastic barrier. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms, 13, 27 35.
  • Boyd, R., Forbes, D.L. and Heffler, D.E. 1988. Time sequence observations of wave formed sand ripples on an ocean shoreface. Sedimentology, 35, 449 464.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1987. Shoreface sediment distribution and sand supply at C2S2 sites in the southern Gulf of St Lawrence. In Proceedings, Coastal Sediments 87, New Orleans. American Society of Civil Engineers, New York, 694 709.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Taylor, R.B. 1987. Coarse grained beach sedimentation under paraglacial conditions, Canadian Atlantic coast. In Glaciated coasts (FitzGerald, D.M. and Rosen, P.S., editors), Chapter 3. Academic Press, San Diego, 51 86.
  • Forbes, D.L. and Boyd, R. 1987. Gravel ripples on the inner Scotian Shelf. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, 57, 46 54.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1984. Coastal geomorphology and sediments of Newfoundland. In Current Research, Geological Survey of Canada, Paper 84 1B, 11 24.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1983. Morphology and sedimentology of a sinuous gravel bed channel system: lower Babbage River, Yukon coastal plain. In Modern and ancient fluvial systems (Collinson, J.D. and Lewin, J., editors). International Association of Sedimentologists, Special Publication no. 6, 195 206.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1979. Bottomfast ice in northern rivers: hydraulic effects and hydrometric implications. In Proceedings, Canadian Hydrology Symposium 1979, Cold Climate Hydrology, Vancouver. National Research Council Canada, Ottawa, 177 184.
  • Jopling, A.V. and Forbes, D.L. 1979. Flume study of silt transportation and deposition. Geografiska Annaler, 61A, 67 85.

Selected reports

  • Forbes, D.L., Covill, R.A. and Travaglini, P. 1999. Multibeam bathymetry and backscatter analysis, Churchill Harbour and approaches, Manitoba coast, Hudson Bay. Unpublished contract report to Wardrop Engineering Inc., Winnipeg, and Hudson Bay Port Company, Churchill, 17 p. & 8 large-format digital maps.
  • Forbes, D.L. 1999. Shoreline stability and management options at Souris Beach, Colville Bay, Prince Edward Island. Unpublished report to PEI Department of Technology and Environment, Charlottetown, 8 p. & 11 figures.
  • Forbes, D.L., Williamson, D., Amos, C.L., Brylinsky, M. and Anderson, C. 1998. Summary of scientific results and analysis of remediation options, Rustico Bay, PEI. Unpublished report of Scientific Advisory Group to Rustico Island Causeway Working Group, North Rustico, PEI, and Parks Canada, Charlottetown, 14 p.
  • Shaw, J. and Forbes, D.L. 1998. Marine geology of the search area. In: Crash of Swissair Flight 111: search support activities by the Geological Survey of Canada (Atlantic). Unpublished report, Geological Survey of Canada, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Part 5.
  • Forbes, D.L., Krüger, J., Motuiwaca, S. and Naibitakele, N. 1995. Coastal sedimentation and shore processes, Natadola Beach, Viti Levu, Fiji. SOPAC, Suva, Preliminary Report 83, 33 p. & appendices.
  • Shaw, J., Taylor, R.B. and Forbes, D.L. 1991. Impact of accelerated sea-level rise on the coast of Nova Scotia. In Proceedings of a Symposium on the Climate of Nova Scotia, Halifax. Nova Scotia Climate Advisory Committee, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, 118-143.