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 

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. 

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. 

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.