Everything seems relative in any world governed by time. To humans, whose lifetime is short, the drift of continents and the creation and destruction of rock and soil seems to take a very long time. As noted elsewhere, the planet Earth has been on average a much warmer place although subjected to deeper periods of cold in times long past. The warm colours symbolically represent areas very much hotter in geological times not long past in terms of geological history. In our Quaternary Period we are emerging from a recent ice age. Glacial cover is represented in white.
At its most extreme the Wisconsian Continental Glacier covered all of these land (green) excepting Georges Bank. As the ice receded toward the north west, areas far from the coasts of eastern Canada emerged on rebound as massive islands. The deepest water was then, as now, in the abyss off the Scotian and Newfoundland shelves.
Those shelves are in relatively shallow water a situation created by weathering, erosion and deposition of sediments carried into the ocean. Sediments are rocks and minerals broken down into small particles by natural processes involving wind and water and temperature change. Note that the Oceanic Crust is much thicker than Oceanic Crust since it has been upthrust by forces of earth movement.
This cross section illustrates the fact that the sedimentary shelves are blankets, layers of various materials of differing thickness, composition and age. The most deeply buried are the oldest.The oldest Bedrock shown in grey is seen to be folded by pressures generated at the Mid Atlantic Rift, where new rock is being created.
For a while it looked as if the cold season was at an end but local ice sheets reestablished themselves before finally withdrawing. At this time portions of Maine and central New Brunswick were flooded by salt water.
At the apex of rebound, Maritime Canada was a much larger place than at present. As inland areas experienced a rise above sea level, those large sea islands underwent subsidence. Of course the melting of so much ice added to the volume of the world's oceans, but that was less significant as a cause of sea level rise than it is today.
This explains that land loss. The deepest layers of rock rest upon a plastic layer known as the Mantle. Again think water bed. Place a heavy man on one, and the plasticized cover sinks down into the water. Remove him and the cover rebounds on water waves. As the crust of the Earth rebounds the peripheral areas subside. And that is what is now happening in most parts of Atlantic Canada. The map shows that the last places to lose ice are now still in uplift while the Maritimes are subsiding into the water by as much as 5 millimetres per year. In adds up!
This map does the addition for us. Prince Edward Island and the lowlands of Cape Breton, Cumberland, Pictou and Antigonish Counties are not well placed to withstand the tides of change. Lunenburg County is a little better off.
How nice it is to be beside the seaside especially in summer. Increasingly, portable living quarters seem a better idea than cottages built close to sea level. It is guessed that about 75% of Nova Scotians prefer a location near water. That may be partly because the ocean helps moderate weather.
This topographic map is a key to low lands prone to flooding. Those dark green areas at the coast are at risk and the risk seems to have increased in recent decades.
And that relates to the fact that a 10% yearly increase in precipitation has been noted by weather mavens. Further, rainfall events have become spectacular.
Check this out on line! It happened this summer. Environment Canada saw a dangerous weather sell tracking toward Pictou and Guysborough Counties, and issued a severe thunderstorm warning. Weather watchers estimated rainfall at 40 to 50 millimetres of rain in a five minute interval. Mr Robertson, who caught the action said, "I have never seen anything like that before in this area. Especially the way in started and stopped so fast."
Fortunately R&R were near the Highland Mall's vast parking lot in New Glasgow when the storm broke. These massive amounts of asphalt cause runoff which can cause flooding problems for near neighbours
One cannot guess how much potential farmland is encased. These areas absorb and emit heat on clear summer days, and that helps to create these severe weather cells. Ironically, all this petro chemical product serves Pictou County's "wellness centre."
Here some of those anvil thunder clouds are seen over Antigonish County from Powell Park close by Black Beach, Pictou County. Better seen from afar. Both Prince Edward Island and Antigonish were hard hit this past summer.
For some primordial reason grasslands always seem more restful than Macadamized fields. They do allow moisture to penetrate the soil and retard flooding.
Annual precipitation for Pictou County is not as great as that seen in Lunenburg County, but when the rains come they do precipitate with a vengeance.
Hurricanes and tropical storms usually lose their mojo after passing over mainland Nova Scotia from the south west. This was another localized torrential downpour on September 2. It lasted for a half hour and it was gusty on the Pictou causeway. That is the infamous Northern Pulp mill in the distance.
Wind is a factor in the erosion and weathering of soil. Antigonish County has a surfeit of wind turbines with good reason.
Red indicates the most damaging floods. New Glasgow has more low land than Antigonish County and hence more flood activity.
New Glasgow has had a number of submergent events including one in which the East River Marina was isolated by flood waters.
Cottage which are uncomfortably close to lakes, rivers and the ocean are not exempt from harm.
Those that build on high land located close to the high tide line are likely to curse gravity. Whose quotes?
Charles Coll and family used to summer in a large cottage just this side of this little structure at Black Beach. As I recall, some archaic land regulation prevented them from moving that lovely place back from a cliff face which lost several feet with every serious Northumberland Strait storm.
Breaking waves of water can do a lot more damage than running streams of water when it comes to weathering, or disassembling, rock. And not all the land on the Strait is sandstone. There are drumlins, glacial hills, which consist of nothing more than sand and silt.
Powells Point is reasonably well protected by a barrier bar, on which those RVs sit by times. This has not prevented wave and rip tide action from completely undermining that massive oak tree.
The Government of Nova Scotia has issued this reaction to problem created by a subsiding coastline. As we have noted in Mahone Bay, building barriers against Mother Nature is an expensive, continuous project and not a final remedy. The rocks do not stay in place and the plastic fabric shreds. We have photographic evidence of this!
Unfortunately for coastal residents these 2013 projections are now thought too conservative.
Many of our homes and cottages are already at risk of flooding. Storm surge affects bodies of water not in direct contact with the Norhumberland Strait.
The Town of Pictou is circumscribed by that red boundary line. They have currently been having flooding problems involving antique underground infrastructure in the areas enclosed by green lines.
Consulting engineers have projected that storm surge is likely. in these areas closest the water.
"Flood Your Town" software suggests this scenario within a couple of decades.
Wave action may be blunted in East, Middle and West River but tidal communities quite distant from the front know they will be facing troubles. Parts of Stellarton have already faced more than usual flooding. Bridge Street runs through the East River Intervale. Businesses and residents there as well as at Twin River Park are expected to see flooding. Blue Acres is also seen at risk and raising the height of bridges may be necessary. In Trenton Lowden and Trout Brook have a flooding history. Homes around the ball field there are seen as an facing an inconvenient future. Westfield's sewage holding facility is on a flood plain. Land on Union Street and between Bear Brook and the reservoir is another known problem area. The towns think they are "fairly well prepared," but if they are like towns we know, expertise is rare on the ground.
Nova Scotia's action Ecology group understands that local governments are leaning on the provincial government for advice and money. They are not convinced that change will happen quickly enough to stave off disaster. See ecologyaction.ca for more. They say that Nova Scotia is the only jurisdiction on the Atlantic which does not yet have coastal legislation and suggest "It costs more to repair than prepare."
Nova Scotia consists largely of rocks created near the South Pole (Meguma Terrane) and others, in the vicinity of The Equator (Avalon Terrane). Sequentially, they became accreated to older terranes including the oldest Laurentian Terrane.It is an unfortunate truth that Pictou County is largely soft rock country.The highland basement rocks lie outside their jurisdiction. That batholith is intrusive, fire-formed granitic rocks hardened from magma, and is very wear-resistant. That Old Red Sandstone is at the other extreme when it comes to weathering.
It is dense enough to serve as building stone, but after a century or so needs upkeep, unlike granite.
Wave action can debase the hardest rock over time and concrete and rock barriers will not hold when the wind is up. Not Rod's photo and not Pictou County.
The advantages of sandstone. It degrades into fine sand beaches and generously gives up fossils with every storm. There are fossils, largely plant forms, at Black Beach. They are no longer prolific, since talus slops (cliff faces) are now often sheathed with harder rocks (background, left). This private beach is inimicable to strangers, which explains why valuables are left on the sand overnight. There is no longer a sense of a close-knit community. 95% of all Nova Scotia coastal land is held by private owners and some are undoubtedly members of the provincial or federal government. It may be needed but will be very hard to create an integrated plan involving all three levels of government.
Sandstone is permeable which means that water flows readily through it and sometimes washes away the "cement" uniting sand particles. When people used to dig simple wells close to "The Salt," few problems followed when they utilized buckets or hand pumps. However, using a power-pump to bring large quantities of water into a household can have the unfortunate effect of drawing contaminating salt water into a well over time. A number of such wells in a small area can cause collapse of the land surface. We have seen this at Black Beach.
At first R&R had intended to visit the beach, since the deed for the cottage included a legal "right-of-way" to get there. That did not happen until July 20 because of the vagarities of resettlement.
This is the old Black Point Road, which now terminates before reaching Evans Point.
Family names remain unchanged but there has been a generational shift. Which means, Rod no longer knows anyone here. There we have a sandstone gatepost.
Their cottage was initially similar to the Coll cottage and also echoed that owned by the Toreys.
The Coll family probably still mows this access path to the beach.
Unfortunately, R&R were out of that social loop. The stairs to the beach lay between those two trees.
We did not go down, but took this pic looking northward.
And this looking southward. Note attempts to stop
weathering using, whatever. In the end everything will likely fail to turn the tide. Evans (Black) Point projects furtherest into the Strait in the background.
They all fall down and then they die.
Rod sometimes wishes he had gone for geology rather than biology, although he did take a couple full courses at UNB Fredericton. This chart would have been a great help in the 1960s. Simply put, weathering is any process which breaks down rocks or minerals (the components of some rocks). Erosion is any action which moves the resulting rocks, minerals or sediments from one place to another, by human or gravitational means. Deposition applies to dumping these products and byproducts in a new place, from which the whole process may be repeated.
Whatever their origin all rocks are subject to degradation. Actually, waves can possess huge energy and disassemble rocks quite quickly. Otherwise the above applies.
4H Club members create a buttress for the West Point, Pictou Harbour Light. As they say, "Hope springs eternal in the human breast." Particularly with youngsters?
As they used to sing, "Everybody's doing it, doing it, doing it..." Which does not mean that it makes sense.
They have been doing it for a long time on the Big Island Causeway which bridges Merigomish Harbour. This is a little known public beach. No lifeguard, no amenities, no checks on water quality.
A visitor here described these as "beach stones." They are actually foreign bodies imported to save the roadway to Big Island, a name which adequately describes a place where very wealthy folk reside.
They probably own on site pools since the beach seems relatively inactive. Beach grass alone was never adequate to protect the berms.
Or the Piping Plovers, which explains those signs, which say go directly to the water. Rod was wading in the there when he took this shot of Ruth.
Close to the former Sutherlands River. The name has been decommissioned by the feral government. Nova Scotia's tale is not all about wealth and privilege.
Many coastal secondary roads like this one are at ground zero at the time of the highest annual tides. Couple that with storm surge and they flood. Although weathering erosion and deposition are often spoken of as if they were entirely different processes they often occur together in the same interval of time.
In some places the land seems decidedly remote from the water and protected from these processes. Those of us who have observed this coastline for several decades know that massive land loss is "an inconvenient truth."
Ho, ho, the winds doth blow and sand and soil sails away with it. Rock barriers are not much defense against this natural force, especially where sail is denuded to build homes and cottages. There is no legislation demanding a setback as there is in my backward home province of New Brunswick. In fact in Nova Scotia, there is no legislation demanding anything. Robin Tress who is advocating change notes that "We're one of only one of two coastal jurisdictions in North America. The other is Alaska (home of Sara Palin). I think it a bit outrageous that we don't have anything protecting the one thing that drives our province's economy and identity."
Wind and torrential rain coupled are an irresistible force over the long term whether by land or by sea. In 2011, the then governing New Democratic Party drafted a Unified Coastal Strategy. They were defeated in the 2013 election and following the usual pattern this directive was filed in a wastebasket. Fisheries laws and the Beaches Act do have a thin spread of what amounts to regulatory suggestions. The Liberal government has claimed that it is developing a "coastal data management plan" and will study the catalogue of information which government has at hand. Which probably means, "Don't hold your breath..."
Meanwhile, that ecology action group has been making demonstration attempts to stabilize a weathering and eroding coastline. Caribou Island is in Pictou County immediately north of Pictou Lodge. Their photo.
These techniques have been attempted by some private land owners for years. There is short term gain but in fifty years of time even natural barriers fail in the face of sinking land and rising waters. Been there done that, and cottages went over the bank in spite of the very best, intelligent, annual attempts to protect the land. Money has been provided from on high to conduct studies on how to meet the threat of storm surges in various jurisdictions, but anything beyond building higher barrier walls has apparently been regarded as too expensive.
It is another "inconvenient truth" that all of us must pay now or pay later. Here is a reminder of what various scientific groups have promised, and bad things happening to good people will not stop at the United States border. Climatologically speaking, Maritime Canada is New England. We have mentioned extreme weather events and will refer briefly to extremes of temperature in Nova Scotia. Following, we will consider some of the other topics mentioned above in separate essays. We are already paying the piper and make no mistake, the Devil does not take care on anyone, including his own.
"You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. You make me happy when skies are grey. You'll never know dear..." Globally, June 2017 ranked as the fourth warmest June on record for land/ocean combined. Records go back as far as 1880. In the Northern Hemisphere, June 2017 averaged 0.91 degrees C above average, making last month the third warmest June on record. The average global land and ocean surface temperature for July 2017 was the second highest for the month at 0.83°C (1.49°F). In the Northern Hemisphere, this was the sixth highest month
Global composite temperature for August was +0.41 C (about 0.74°F) above 30-year average for August, and the same held for the Northern Hemisphere. Dr. John Christy, director of the Earth System Science Center at The University of Alabama in Huntsville noted that in August, “There were some cool places, such as Antarctica and the northern continental U.S., but other places were modestly warm.
We may need to rethink winter sports? CBC News carried this headline on August 3, 2017: September in Nova Scotia warmest on record in past 30 years.
"September was also a wet month, with Halifax and Sydney recording high-than-normal rainfall amounts." That was decidedly not true for the parts of Nova Scotia where we resided during that month. Mean air temperature for the entire province was 2ºC above 30 year climate normals. At 16.6ºC this was the sixth warmest September in recorded weather history. In subscript ,weather maven Kalin Mitchell admitted that there was more sunshine in the southwest. "Drier conditions were found in southwestern Nova Scotia, with Yarmouth reporting 58 per cent of the climate normal amount of rain." Pictou precipitation was close to that in Prince Edward Island at 77% of norm.
The thoroughfare at the mouth of Chance Harbour. Here the the sands were more often too hot to handle rather than rain soaked. Climate Change is denied by indoor-oriented humans and those who have not been on the planet long enough to perceive long time trends in various places. There are micro-climates in Nova Scotia. Lunenburg is only an hour by road from Mahone Bay but they do not share similar weather patterns. For one example, Mahone Bay lies outside the fog zone since it is not on a peninsula but on an embayment. Climate change is a very gradual change in average weather conditions. Deniers are correct in claiming that the earth's climate does experience natural variation over geologic periods.
There was sunshine at the cottage during most days in July and August, 2017, but that situation was an anomaly. And the current change toward a warmer climate is also an oddity: During the past 300 years there has been a sharp and unprecedented warming trend which a majority of scientists blame in large part on human activities.
Noon lunch break and all the clientèle at the submarine shop are indoors because the temperature was sweltering and the UV Index "High." You don't run across hot sand in bare feet in this weather, especially at high noon. Other impacts of global warming include sea level rise, additional precipitation increase for the north east, and fewer but more intense weather events for our region.
All men may be created equal but as they mature the value of their opinions has varying veracity. Global warming denial is actually more adamantly religious in its tenets. As humourist Josh Billings once noted, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it is what you know for sure just ain’t so.” This cartoonist has confused weather and climate. Short term happenings do not reflect the true state of affairs on a broader stage. It is the average weather over many seasons that determines climate. That has not stopped one Pictou Islander from being suspicious of the idea of climate change since 1965 was a particularly harsh winter out there.
This is somewhat correct, although not all Canadians prefer beer, hockey and barbecued food in unison. MacLean's magazine writer Aaron Hutchins has suggested we are beyond all this and have become wintertime "wuzzies." "Canada’s mighty winters once invoked a sense of pride and superiority, a way to distinguish Canadians from Americans. 'For we are a northern people, as the true out-crop of human nature, more manly, more real than the weak marrow-bones superstition of the effeminate south,' wrote the lawyer and essayist William Alexander Foster in his 1871 address, 'Canada first or, our new nationality.'"
These are Nova Scotians rebelling against their groundhog day prognosticator of winter's length. For centuries, Canadians wouldn’t let a little cold stop them. Today nobody is experiencing winter as Rod and his pals did in the 1940s.
"Winter aversion is practically endemic, despite the fact that virtually every Canadian city has not only warmed appreciably but also experienced less snow over the past few decades." Climatologist David Phillips who was slow to recognized climate change, now says, "We think we are (still) the land of ice and snow." The Russian Federation now holds top spot.
Florida's misfortune in 2010 does not stand as evidence against climate change. As for Canada, "Since 1948, winter has warmed by three degrees nationally, an increase greater than any other season... Archive for the winter months of every provincial and territorial capital, only Iqaluit has gotten colder. Whitehorse and Yellowknife winters are nearly 2.5° C warmer than they once were...Snowfall has also decreased across the majority of Canadian cities..." Phillips has advised against taking 'wind chill' reports seriously, "...it really exaggerates the worst... One of the unknowns about meteorology is we measure temperature in the shade, not the sun,” Phillips says. So if the wind isn’t blowing and you want outdoors to feel seven or eight degrees warmer than what you heard on the radio, Phillips has one piece of advice: “Walk on the sunny side of the street.”
Speaking of which, Wee Donnie is not alone. "Mon pays, ce n'est pas un pays, c'est l'hiver" ("My country is not a country, it's winter") may define Gilles Vigneault's Québec, but even that province is warming, and is not Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. How good does it get? R&R feel no need to retreat to the far south to avoid an "inconvenient truth." It has been warming here for a very long time, as humans count it.
Twenty centimetres of snow is less than a foot of that stuff, and the air temperatures in winter will not allow it to stay on the ground. We used to joke that they would sweep that quantity away with brooms in New Brunswick, where it still accumulates in some places as it does in Pictou County.
worldweatheronline.com does not note that it did not snow on Christmas Eve, 2016, and that confinement was limited to three days indoors in 2017, although there was a bit of heavy digging to escape cabin fever. In this jurisdiction, decent weather extends from early May until late October, but that season has expanded by about two weeks since R&R moved south.