Grise Fiord’s coastal erosion should be factor in infrastructure plans, research says

Major storms continue to erode the hamlet’s coastline

The coastline of Grise Fiord, seen here, has eroded during major storms, hamlet’s senior administrative officer Marty Kuluguqtuq said. (Photo by David Didier)

By David Lochead

Coastal erosion should be considered when looking at ways infrastructure in Grise Fiord can adapt to climate change, according to a research project’s analysis in the area.

Since 2020, the Grise Fiord Hunters and Trappers Association, the hamlet and residents have worked with southern researchers to monitor the patterns of coastal erosion in the hamlet.

This year’s data shows during high tides, even small waves in a storm could cause Grise Fiord’s coast to erode in the future, said David Didier, a coastal geography researcher from the University of Rimouski.

Upcoming infrastructure projects in Grise Fiord, such as its small craft harbour, will take coastal erosion into account, the hamlet’s senior administrative officer Marty Kuluguqtuq said.

In 2019, the federal government announced a small craft harbour will be coming to Grise Fiord.

Currently in the planning stage, the intention is for the small craft harbour to help block waves from eroding the coast, Kuluguqtuq said.

Coastal erosion happens every year during major storms that have a combination of high winds, high tides and rain, he added.

Over the past 20 or so years, coastal erosion has become noticeable on Grise Fiord’s beach, HTA chairperson Amon Akeeagok told Nunatsiaq News last year. The erosion has narrowed the beach and made it more difficult for hunters to pull their boats out of the water.

The main road can also get flooded during major storms, which requires a loader to have it fixed, Kuluguqtuq said.

While Didier’s team leads the research on the coastline, the coastal water researchers include a team from the University of Alberta led by Maya Bhatia, Didier said.

Southern research may be in Grise Fiord during the summer, but the project is conducted with community members and the community does the year-round monitoring, he said.

“We do everything together,” Didier said.

On top of the HTA and hamlet working with the researchers, up to 10 summer students from Grise Fiord have been hired and paid to work on the coastal erosion project, he said.

Getting local students involved was an important part of the research, Kuluguqtuq said, adding that one or two of the students have indicated they are interested in continuing to be involved in the project.

“That’s definitely a positive,” Kuluguqtuq said.


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