The members of Climate Smart Lab, Tianze Pang (first author), Dr. Xander Wang (corresponding author), Sana Basheer, and Ryan Guild, have published a research paper in the well-known journal Science of the Total Environment entitled “Landcover-based detection of rapid impacts of extreme storm on coastal landscape”.

Research Summary

Our results indicate that, following Fiona, over 51 km2 coastal land loss due to the erosion at beach foreshore and inundation at tidal flat, and over 11 km2 sand dune loss mainly on the PEI north shore. This constitutes a 3.5% loss of coastal land resources within the 1798 km2 PEI coastal zone. Fiona also caused over 194 km2 area in coastal buffer zone showed temporal fluid-mud from the eroded sediments of sand dunes, cliffs, and tidal flats, suggesting the significant sediment loss from vertical structures in addition to the direct retreat. We have also summarized the coastal-change under extreme storm – the sand dune coast is characterized by massive erosion in foredune, complex reshape of the land-sea interface, and considerable sediments transported to the nearshore area; the large amount of suspended sediment existing in the “post-storm” stage suggests the significant acceleration of the erosion process on cliff coast; the tidal flats and sandbanks generally show a reduction in the exposed area with the removal of a large number of surface sediments.

Through this study, such landcover-based methods can be used as a valuable tool for rapid (within 1-2 months) assessment of short-term impacts of extreme storms on coastal zones in the future. The results also indicate that Prince Edward Island and other areas with similar geographical conditions are highly vulnerable to extreme storms. The conditions include very limited external sediment input, low-lying topography and unconsolidated sedimentary environments, and coastal protection projects that have not been implemented or incorrectly implemented. The study suggests that future coastal protection measures in PEI and similar areas need to be based on two core principles – reducing nearshore hydrodynamics and enhancing erosion capacity; Specific methods may include the nourishment of sandy beaches and offshore submerged breakwater on sand dune coasts, the base revetments on cliff coasts, and the application of seagrass beds or oyster reefs on low-plain coasts.

This research achievement is dedicated to the people in Prince Edward Island who have been directly affected by Hurricane Fiona in September 2022.