“Iles-de-la-Madelaine” Gradually Eroding


Édouard Rousseau

Due to climate change, coastal erosion accelerates in the Magdalen islands. Routes don’t exist anymore, some houses need to be relocated, Quebec is gradually losing its islands. 

Magdalen islands are part of the Quebec province, and the islands are home to about 13 000 people. Even though it takes 5-6 hours of ferry from Prince Edward Island to there, the islands are of a breathtaking beauty. 

 From 1963 to 2008, climate change causes sea level to rise about 24 centimeters per year and in some sectors, it can go up to 2 meters. Studies believe that 0,5 to 1 % of the island’s living space disappears every 10 years. These past years, it has started to accelerate. Madelinots are worried because if nothing was to be done, building could start falling off cliffs and routes getting submerged. The madelinots are taking things in hand by solidifying the cliffs, for exemple. 

There are two factors related to climate change increasing the natural phenomenon of erosion: the lack of ice cover and sea level rise. 

-Ice cover: 

There is practically no ice left around the islands in winter, therefore the water arrives directly on the coasts and digs the rock. Before, the ice protected the coasts for several months each year. 

-Sea level rise: 

Due to global warming, glaciers are starting to liquefy. The Magdalen islands warmed by 2,3 degrees Celsius during the 19th century. When the ice melts, the water rise. This rising water increases the risk of submersion of the lowest lands.                

“The more we wait, the more it’s going to be expensive,” says Jonathan Lapierre, a climate change consultant engaged by the islands’ town hall.   

The Magdalen Islands are not the only archipelagos touched by erosion, some islands have completely disappeared and others, like Hawaii, are losing their beaches.