Coastal communities losing ground on climate change planning, study shows | 2/20/2019 | Staff
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Coastal communities like Homer, Alaska, are losing ground when it comes to planning for climate change even as they're already seeing its effects, according to new research out of the University of Alberta.

The small city on Alaska's Kenai Peninsula is a destination for tourists visiting the Homer Spit, a long, sandy strip dotted with restaurants, shops and other attractions. A small part of the community is here, only a few metres above sea level; the rest sits atop the surrounding bluffs.

Climate - Change - Spit - Bluffs - Way

But climate change is affecting both the spit and the bluffs, meaning it might not look this way for long, said Jeff Birchall, assistant professor in the U of A's School of Urban and Regional Planning, who led a study looking at how Homer is responding to climate change.

"The major stresses faced by Homer are storm surges and intense precipitation," Birchall noted. "Intense rain-on-snow events are occurring more often and can cause flash floods, which often result in erosion and bluff instability. Increased storm surge activity further challenges bluff integrity by undermining the base of coastal bluffs."

Storm - Surges - Water - Debris - Road

During storm surges, water and debris can block the only road connecting the spit to the mainland, and intensified waves can collapse boardwalks and damage infrastructure. But despite this,...
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