Coastal erosion is a natural process that consists of the breakdown (or “weathering”) of rock and sediments at the shoreline, both above and below the water surface. In Atlantic Canada, coastal erosion happens as a result of the action of waves, and to a lesser extent tidal action, wind, storm surge, ice, rain, and surface runoff. Rates of erosion and deposition are different at different points on the coast. Factors such as exposure and tides can each influence the degree to which a shoreline may erode. The type of shoreline, and the type of sediment of which it is composed, are also influential: cliffs, beaches, barrier systems, and salt marshes resist erosion to different degrees.
Coastal erosion in Nova Scotia is a growing problem as changes to climatic conditions and sea level will also influence the rates of erosion and deposition. Human activities can also affect rates of coastal change.