Ocean program – Coastal resilience technology theme

Scale model testing of shore protection systems
Scale model testing at the NRC helps to optimize and validate the design of new shore protection systems to mitigate flood and erosion risk.
Coastal resilience technology theme

Within the NRC Ocean program, the goal of the coastal resilience technology theme is to support the development of technologies to mitigate the impacts of weather extremes and climate change on Canada's shorelines, rivers, waterfront communities and industries.

Flooding from coastal and inland sources is the most pervasive and costly natural disaster in Canada. Many Canadian communities and shorelines are vulnerable to flooding and erosion caused by the combined effects of tides, storm surges, high waves, tsunami, ice hazards, intense rainfall events and rapid snowmelt. Without intervention, damages and losses are expected to escalate over the coming decades, as the global climate continues to change.

Our research will focus on finding solutions to these challenges, creating knowledge, and developing useful and efficient technologies such as flood forecasting systems, nature‑based infrastructure solutions, and predictive design tools, guides and standards.

Contact us

If you are interested in collaborating with us, making investments in this area, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Dr. Amir Ali Khan
Research and technology lead
Telephone: 709-631-9673
Email: Amir.Khan@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca

Related links

Areas of focus

Flood prediction and forecasting systems

A flooded landscape

In many locations across Canada, flood risks are expected to escalate over the coming decades as a consequence of increasing urbanization, rising sea levels, declining sea‑ice cover, and shifting weather and precipitation patterns associated with climate change.

Research in this area will focus on improving flood prediction and forecasting systems to support the assessment of potential mitigation options, investment in new infrastructure, and emergency response planning and operations. In many cases, these applications will help improve our ability to plan for, and reduce, losses caused by flood events.

Nature‑based solutions for flood and erosion risk management

Vegetation near the coastline

The NRC is working to increase the use of natural and nature‑based approaches to coastal flood and erosion risk management.

Nature‑based systems have the potential to deliver effective flood and erosion protection, in tandem with positive environmental and societal co‑benefits.

Nature‑based solutions take advantage of the inherent capabilities of natural features (i.e. beaches, wetlands, marshes, barrier islands, reefs and headlands) to prevent or mitigate flooding and erosion. Under certain conditions, they are more sustainable and adaptable to a changing environment than conventional, hard shore protection structures. The NRC's research will focus on improving our understanding of the effectiveness and durability of nature‑based features, and developing design tools, guides and standards to promote broader use of nature‑based solutions in Canada.

Climate change impact assessment and adaptation solutions

An eroded cliff

A main objective of this technology theme is to better understand the impacts of climate change on Canada's coastal and river environments, and to develop technical solutions to help waterfront communities and industries adapt to the changes.

Our research in this area will focus on developing improved methods to predict climate change impacts on water levels, flows, waves and ice conditions in Canadian rivers and coastal waters, including under extreme conditions. We are also working to develop sustainable methods to stabilize eroding shorelines, future‑proof aging infrastructure, manage escalating flood risks, and restore natural shoreline ecosystems.

More resilient and sustainable marine infrastructure

Newhaven Lighthouse, submerged with waves

Canada's coastal infrastructure is a vast network of seawalls, dikes, revetments, breakwaters, wharves, marinas and small‑craft harbours on the nation's ocean and inland coasts. It plays a vital role in protecting vulnerable coastal communities from erosion and flooding, and supports key sectors of Canada's economy including maritime shipping and transportation, fishing, aquaculture, offshore oil and gas, tourism and recreational boating.

Much of Canada's coastal infrastructure is in need of renewal and upgrading due to age, deferred maintenance, and the toll of exposure to rising water levels, storm‑driven hazards, and a changing climate.

Our research in this area will focus on increasing knowledge and developing reliable methods and tools to support the efficient renewal and future‑proofing of existing marine infrastructure, and the sustainable design of new structures.


The coastal resilience technology theme leverages the NRC's expertise in coastal and river engineering, hydrodynamics and ice mechanics.

NRC experts are working with collaborators in these areas to support the development of knowledge and technologies to increase coastal and river resilience across Canada. 

Work under this technology theme will include:

  • developing new guidelines and standards to improve the resilience of waterfront communities and infrastructure across Canada
  • improving flood prediction and forecasting capabilities
  • improving our knowledge base and develop expert guidance concerning the performance and use of nature‑based solutions for flood and erosion risk management in Canada
  • improving our understanding of the effects of climate change on flood, erosion and ice‑related hazards across Canada
  • providing more resilient and sustainable coastal and river infrastructure solutions for Canada
  • providing solutions to understand and manage flood and erosion risks

Coastal resilience projects

Projects listed under the coastal resilience technology theme are in various stages of development.