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Located in northern Québec (Canada), Nunavik is bordered by the Hudson Bay in the west, and the Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay in the north. With approximately 3000 kilometers, its coastline is composed of numerous bays, pocket beaches, fjords and estuaries. Seaboards of Nunavik are different in terms of tidal conditions, types of coast and coastal permafrost conditions, inducing a large complexity for the elaboration of coastal classifications. Nunavik is acknowledged for its high mineral potential, which generates a dual adaptation challenge in the context of rapid climate and environmental changes and pressure for industrial development. Besides, this research project is related to the expected development of marine transportation infrastructure in Nunavik, both in the Inuit communities and along the coastline.
In the scientific literature, many coastal classifications have been defined and applied to characterize the main features of a coastline in terms of physical and ecological properties. To date, several scientific programs have been carried out to map and classify Canadian Arctic shorelines: CanCoast, ACD (Arctic Coastal Dynamics), ShoreZone and eSPACE (Emergency Spatial Pre-SCAT for Arctic Coastal Ecosystems). However, only CanCoast provides results for the Nunavik coast. Consequently, acquiring sound knowledge on coastal systems and processes of Nunavik is essential to assess the sensibility of these environments in a context of climate change and economic development. A detailed geomorphological analysis is absolutely necessary for coastal management. Current coastal dynamics and expected transformative changes due to climate and geophysical changes need a better understanding.
The primary objective of this thesis is to produce a detailed coastal classification map of Nunavik. Specifically, we will: 1) Classify coastal segments accordingly to geomorphological and hydrodynamics criteria, based on a RapidEye Mosaic; 2) Create a GIS database with all coastal information (types of coasts, tidal ranges, coastal sediment cells, etc); 3) Conduct a shoreline videography by helicopter; 4) Identify sections along the coastline sensitive to erosion due to marine (waves, tides, ice, surges) and geophysical factors (relative sea level changes, coastal permafrost); 5) Refine geomorphological concepts in arctic and subarctic environments (coastal classifications, shoreline, extent of coastal permafrost); 6) Create morpho-sedimentological models of different coasts (e.g. Manitounuk Strait, Deception Bay, Koksoak estuary) and conduct an identification of coastal geotechnical risks.
This coastal classification involves several methodological steps. The mapping system is based on a segmentation of the shoreline. Therefore, the continuous and linear shoreline must be divided into homogeneous segments. We will use a high resolution shoreline at a 1:50,000 scale, that was developed by CanVec (a product of NRCan). Descriptive attributes (e.g. substrate, slope, shore type, tide, anthropogenic features) are entered into a GIS database for each shore segment to describe both the alongshore segment and the across-shore morphology.