On the East Coast, climate change may intensify an existing problem of rising sea levels due to the sinking of the Earth’s crust. Much of Nova Scotia, for instance, is steadily subsiding. Sea levels at the Bay of Fundy are rising by about 40 centimetres per century. More than 80 percent of the coastlines of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island — including the cities of Charlottetown and Saint John, N.B. — are considered moderately to highly sensitive to flooding and erosion caused by the rising sea. Coastal bluffs are retreating, some up to 12 metres in a year. Tidal salt marshes, which are critical ecosystems, could be submerged as well as dykes protecting areas that are currently below the high tide mark.
Tourism will bear the brunt of the changing climate if popular natural attractions, such as coastal dunes on the north shore of Prince Edward Island and icebergs along the coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, are altered. The combined effects of rising sea levels, decreased sea ice and increased wave action could ruin the dunes. Icebergs, which normally melt in warmer waters near the southern fringe of the Grand Banks, would disappear farther north. This would be bad news for tourism operators in Newfoundland, but likely welcomed by the oil industry, which must maintain expensive engineering on its offshore oil production platforms to deal with iceberg collisions.