El Niño and La Niña Pose Double Whammy for BC Coast

As storm season approaches, BC coastal communities need to prepare for the possibilityof extreme flooding and erosion that come with both El Niño and La Niña weather systems, according to a new study published today in Nature Geoscience.

This is the first study to show how these climate variability events are linked to greater erosion and flooding in coastal regions across the Pacific Ocean. Researchers from 13 different institutions including the University of Victoria analyzed wave, water level and shoreline response data to identify the impacts of both El Niño and La Niña on coastal flooding and erosion, including in BC.

“It's not just El Niño we should be concerned about,” says Ian Walker, UVic geography professor and co-author of the study. “Our research shows that severe coastal erosion and flooding can occur along the BC coast during both El Niño and La Niña storm seasons, unlike further south in California. We need to prepare not only for this winter, but also for what could follow when La Niña comes.”

UVic is a national and international leader in the study of the oceans and climate. Walker, whose research has taken him all along the west coast from Haida Gwaii to California, is an expert in beach and dune systems, dune restoration, coastal erosion and sea level trends.