Yarmouth: A Case Study in Climate Change Adaptation

The Town of Yarmouth and the Municipality of the District of Yarmouth, located on the southwest coast of Nova Scotia, Canada are two of 13 Nova Scotia municipalities that have participated in the Atlantic Climate Adaptation Solutions (ACAS) initiative. It was recognized that there was a need for government and non-government partners to work collaboratively to help Atlantic Canadian communities build adaptive capacity to meet the challenges of climate change. Of particular importance is the need to develop a better understanding of the vulnerability of the natural and built environment of the Yarmouth coast to future sea level rise and storm surge flooding and the impacts on valued social assets and vulnerable populations. Such understanding cannot be derived simply from single-topic projects but rather from interdisciplinary approaches that attempt to bring together the multiple facets of climate change and its impacts on the natural, physical, social and economic structure of communities., This project represents a collection of sub-projects that were carried out by the Dalhousie University School of Planning using information and the setting of the Yarmouth area. The objectives were to generate a municipal case study that provides useful information and perspectives within the following areas: Sea level rise scenarios Infrastructure Social assets Social vulnerability Municipal capacity to adapt, The project deliverables are separate reports on each of the topics that were investigated, including: Background information on the Yarmouth area Local sea level rise and storm surge flood scenarios for the years 2025 and 2100 spatial analysis of the extent and types of physical infrastructure potentially impacted by sea level rise and storm surges under the worst case scenarios identifying social assets vulnerable to climate change impacts. Valuation of assets according to community values Analysis of social vulnerability Municipal capacity to adapt to climate change, focusing on the Town of Yarmouth. Reports on these topics are downloadable as file attachments below., The information and findings of the studies are immediately useful to the two participant municipalities as they develop their Municipal Climate Change Action Plans and build adaptive capacity through land use and development policies and practices, or prioritize actions to address infrastructure and assets at risk or support populations who are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The studies also serve as examples for other municipalities of the information needs and methods to identify hazards, risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as they relate to coastal climate change impacts. Other adaptation researchers and practitioners may wish to test the methods employed in these projects. Overall, the findings of the projects contribute to the growing body of information and knowledge about climate change impacts in coastal communities, their significance for natural and built environment assets, the potential implications for vulnerable populations, and the capacity of local government to protect its citizens and existing valued assets and direct future land use and development in anticipation of a retreating coastline and more extensive coastal flooding.