Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems: A tool to support coastal climate change adaptation in Nova Scotia
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Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), more commonly known as “drones”, are being increasingly utilized to assist with civilian tasks. The rapidly developing technology offers a host of current and potential applications at lower costs than other forms of hyperspatial data collection. This research investigates the uses of RPAS as a tool to support coastal climate change adaptation strategies in Nova Scotia. Whilst anthropogenically induced climate change is a ‘wicked’ problem on the global scale, localized impacts affect natural and social systems across the region, necessitating adaptative strategies and tools. A RPAS was used to create 3D map layers of two coastal sites in the Port Mouton region of Queens County, Nova Scotia: a working wharf and a sandy beach within a Provincial Park. The data was displayed as 2D and 3D maps and used to support interviews with a variety of stakeholders, including community members, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), academia and government. Findings suggest that compared to imagery from Google Maps™, the RPAS maps provide high-quality visualizations that can enhance public perceptions of the risks posed by climate change. This paper presents a holistic perspective of the use of RPAS imagery so that the resulting visualizations can be used not only to communicate the impacts of climate change, but also to support management decisions and adaptation measures and policies. If the technical and legal limitations associated with RPAS operations are carefully considered and incorporated into pre-flight plans, RPAS can be used for various site-specific applications, providing a tool to assist with coastal adaptation strategies. Keywords: Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems; climate change visualizations; adaptation strategies; coastal management; Nova Scotia.