Ministry of Environment

Sea Level Rise in B.C.

Sea level is projected to rise approximately 1 metre over the next century. On British Columbia’s coast, sea level change is influenced by both global and local effects.  Global sea level is affected by melting of glaciers and ice caps, and warming (thermal expansion) of the upper ocean.  Locally, sea level rise is also affected by vertical movements of the land (tectonic movements, rebound and subsidence).

Estimates of mean sea level rise by 2100 for the B.C. coast range from 80 cm at Nanaimo to 120 cm in the Fraser Delta (PDF/1.25MB). Potential impacts of sea level rise in British Columbia include:

  • More frequent and extreme high water levels in coastal areas
  • Increased erosion and flooding
  • Increased risk to coastal infrastructure, as well as increased maintenance and repair costs
  • Loss of property due to erosion
  • Loss of habitat and reduced biodiversity
  • Saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers
  • Loss of cultural and historical sites

Adapting to Sea Level Rise

To avoid losses from these current and future risks, we will need to plan for, and adapt to the impacts of sea level rise and climate change. Adaptation will involve incorporating sea level rise projections into coastal management practices and planning, both now and in the future. 

All levels of government play a crucial role in working with stakeholders to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate and rising sea level. The B.C. Government supports research, outreach and action on sea level rise in British Columbia.

  • The Sea Level Rise Adaptation Primer (PDF/5.8MB) is a resource for local governments and land management authorities, providing information on a range of tools that can be used as part of a sea level rise adaptation strategy.
  • The B.C. Government has completed a series of technical studies to assist practitioners in incorporating sea level rise into coastal flood plain mapping, sea dike design and land use planning.  These reports are intended to inform planning and management decisions in coastal areas.
     
  • The Juan-de-Fuca Storm Surge Project is a partnership between the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The project includes an operational ocean model to predict storm surge activity along the British Columbia coastline.
     
  • The King Tide Photo Initiative is a public outreach and engagement campaign that invites people to observe today's high water events (high tide/storm surge events) and imagine the future of B.C.'s coastline with sea level rise.
     
  • Sea level rise projections for tide gauge and GPS stations on the BC coast (PDF/100KB). These projections are based on a global sea level rise of 1m by the year 2100. This is the level currently recommended for planning purposes.