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CLIVE allows decision-makers to visualize in 3D the impacts of sea-level rise and storm surge water levels at local community scales



The CoastaL Impact Visualization Environment (CLIVE) is an analytical geovisualization tool created by the C2C team of researchers at the University of Prince Edward Island's (UPEI) Climate Lab and Simon Fraser University’s (SFU) Spatial Interface Research Lab.

CLIVE combines different data sources – ranging from aerial images captured by drones to high-resolution digital elevation data derived from laser surveys to IPCC model projections of future sea-level rise – using a 3D video game engine platform to allow users to interactively fly around and view local areas at all scales, while manipulating historical data and projected models through time.  By representing recognizable places and local information in a realistic manner, CLIVE increases the personal relevance of climate change and influences our individual and collective behaviour to adapt to climate change.  CLIVE’s success in communicating climate change risks and promoting adaptation earned it international recognition.

Researchers at UPEI are working to expand the capabilities of CLIVE so it could help inform decision-makers of the impact of climate-related hazards and proactively develop and execute adaptation strategies.  Adaptation is critical in achieving climate resilience, and early action allows time to plan, design, and implement sustainable long-term adaptation methods before disaster strikes.  For example, adding storm surge water levels and highlighting areas of schools, hospitals, senior homes, and key transport routes could help decision-makers anticipate how a storm will impact its community when designing armouring or planning an evacuation.

Since inception, CLIVE has been successfully replicated for communities in North America and has garnered interest from the Caribbean countries.  It can be easily replicated and scaled to suit the needs of each community.  It is a portable tool that can be demonstrated on a computer without the need of an internet connection or specialized software.

What actions do you propose?

The C2C team (UPEI's Climate Lab and SFU's Spatial Interface Research Lab) have implemented an action plan that demonstrates the potential of agile partnership networks to achieve a fully functional climate change, coastal impact visual analysis tool.  The primary objectives of CLIVE were to:

·        make the existing coastal impact and environmental change record accessible;

·        integrate an ability to view projected climate futures at human scales;

·        deliver them using tools that enhance public stakeholder engagement and awareness;

·        develop workflows and knowledge capital that can scale and transfer to other communities, regions and data contexts

CLIVE was presented to residents in communities across the province of Prince Edward Island, Canada.  Surveys before and after the demonstration of CLIVE showed that their knowledge and awareness of climate change impacts increased, their existing concern of the impacts increased, and their willingness to adapt also increased.

The tool has since been further developed (e.g., expand the analysis of impacts to key infrastructure), scaled and transferred to other communities, regions and data contexts.  The work for the First Nations community on Lennox Island was showcased on a nationally televised program (  Through this work, it was clear that CLIVE has evolved beyond a visualization and communication tool.  In addition to educating the public and gaining their support for adaptation initiatives, it will also assist decision-makers in planning and designing adaptation strategies.

To take climate change adaptation action, decision-making must be supported with knowledge and information and capacity must exist to translate knowledge into action.  CLIVE can support vulnerable regions by helping policy makers understand the changes in their environments and the impacts on the population, property, infrastructure, industries, etc.  To do so, the team will:

  1. Add a layer highlighting key property and infrastructure.  This will allow decision makers to prioritize the protection of areas (e.g., hospitals, schools, senior homes, water treatment plant, power utilities, vital transport routes).
  2. Add a layer of socioeconomic indicators.  This will clearly identify important information such as population density, land use, etc.
  3. Add a layer differentiating the ownership of property and infrastructure.  This will clearly identify the reliance of property or infrastructure owned by a different group (e.g., a local community impacted by flooding may not have the jurisdiction to raise a causeway owned by the federal government).
  4. Add time scales.  Using forecast models, this will allow decision makers to see how much time they have to design and implement an adaptation measure before the area of interest becomes at risk.
  5. Add existing protective measures.  If existing protection exists (e.g., dykes), the areas protected would not shown to be at-risk if the climate event is not forecasted to breach the protective structure.
  6. Demonstrate how different protective measures can safeguard an area of interest.  The tool can highlight areas protected by a higher engineered dike compared to those protected by a lower agricultural dike or a flood wall.
  7. Identify areas ideal for evacuation and relocation.  Areas in the community at higher elevation that can be easily reached by the residents will be highlighted in case of evacuation when at-risk areas are inundated.  These are also areas where decision-makers and residents could consider relocating their property, businesses, etc.

Climate change impacts will continue to intensify and the time to act is now.  While there is a wealth of information publically available on climate change, global climate models, statistical downscaling techniques, rainfall intensity-duration-frequency curves, adaptation design, etc., it is often beyond the capacity of communities to benefit from the information.  Often, they have the desire but lack the expertise and resources to begin adaptation.  CLIVE supports decision-makers by condensing and converting large amounts of scientific data and forecast models into an intuitive and interactive interface.

A lot of effort and attention was put into making CLIVE easy to operate.  The user will be able to use a mouse, keyboard, or video game controller to change the time scale (e.g. higher sea and storm surge water levels in 50 years compared to today), change the risk/inundation level (e.g. a 1-in-100 year storm will cause flooding further inland than a 1-in-20 year storm), highlight relevant information (e.g. key infrastructure, population density, etc.), select different adaptation options (e.g. dike versus flood wall), and so forth.  CLIVE will help individuals, organizations, communities, and governments visualize the impacts of climate change, understand the need to adapt, prioritize areas for adaptation, determine the time restraints they are working with, and begin developing an adaptation strategy to increase resilience.

Who will take these actions?

Adam Fenech, Ph.D. (Toronto). Director, UPEI's Climate Lab.  Dr. Fenech conducts research on the vulnerability, impacts and adaptation to climate change. He has worked extensively in climate change since the IPCC First Assessment Report in 1989. He has edited 8 books on climate change, and worked for Harvard University researching the history of the science/policy interfaces of climate change. He has represented Canada at international climate negotiating sessions; written climate policy speeches for Canadian Environment Ministers; and authored Canadian reports on climate change to the United Nations.

Andrew Clark, MSc. (UPEI) Research Assistant, UPEI Climate Lab. Andrew has expertise in GIS, 3D visualization, database systems, and remote sensing. Andrew studied the impacts of climate change and storm surges as a Master’s student at UPEI and has been continuously expanding the capabilities of CLIVE since its inception.

Stephanie Arnold, BASc., MBA (Toronto) Senior Research Assistant UPEI.  Stephanie has managed and collaborated with researchers and stakeholders across Canada in climate change adaptation projects.  She was instrumental in the development of an online “Community Profile” tool to assist communities in identifying their adaptive capacity in coping with climate change impacts and community vulnerabilities.  She has also co-authored and edited papers on using Cost-Benefit Analysis to Evaluate Climate Change Adaptation Options and edited a book on global climate change, biodiversity and sustainability.

And of course all of our Community/Municipal/Provincial/State/National/International Partners!

Where will these actions be taken?

CLIVE has already been replicated for other communities in North America.  There are discussions with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center, which coordinates the region’s response to climate change, and works on solutions to adapt to the impacts of climate change and global warming.  The region includes two dozen island nations populated by 40 million people.  Field work (e.g., data collection, consultations) and dissemination will take place in the Caribbean countries.  The data analysis and tool development will take place at the University of Prince Edward Island Climate Lab.

Since CLIVE can be built for any community facing coastal flooding impacts, the team can travel with its equipment to collect data anywhere in the world.

What are other key benefits?

Beyond enabling decision-makers to begin developing an adaptation strategy to increase resilience by making scientific data and models available in an intuitive format, CLIVE makes it easier for decision-makers to implement their adaptation strategies by increasing public support.

Surveys before and after the demonstration of CLIVE showed increases in the residents’ awareness of climate change impacts, concern about those impacts, and willingness to adapt.  In addition, by representing recognizable places and local information in a realistic manner, CLIVE incentivizes early action by highlighting the personal relevance of climate change and influences our individual and collective behaviour to adapt to climate change.  On Prince Edward Island, where CLIVE has been demonstrated to professional groups, government, and residents across the province, changes in government policy and professional practice have taken place.

What are the proposal’s costs?

From a financial standpoint, the cost of developing the first version of CLIVE has been approximately $75,000 over a 15-month period ($5K in computers and software; $68K people time; $2K in travel). Other assets with value include spatial data shared with us by partners.

Since then, the UPEI Climate Lab has purchased drones and remote sensors to conduct work for areas that do not have existing spatial data and aerial imagery with the help of funding partners.  The cost of the drones and sensors, along with related equipment and computers cost approximately $200,000.

The cost to replicate CLIVE and add layers of climatic, environmental, geographical, and socioeconomic data for an area is dependent completely on the project scope.  The main factors are the size of the area (e.g., one island state or the entire Caribbean region) and the information that needs to be collected by drones and remote sensors (e.g., existing digital elevation models versus collecting the information with drones and remote sensors).  This variability makes it difficult to provide a precise cost estimate.  Projects could start as low as $5,000 if the area is small and no data collection is required, and as large as $200,000 should a larger area be selected.

Time line


Since the CLIVE prototype has already been developed and successfully replicated for other regions, the proposed actions for the project will take place in the short term.  The team will begin to work with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Center immediate to identify areas of interest.  The team will also continue to present CLIVE internationally with the objective of making this tool available to as many communities as possible.

As global climate models are updated, the team will update the localized versions of CLIVE to reflect the most recent and accurate projections available.

The research team will also continue to refine existing features and develop new ones, such as dynamic modelling of water flow, storm surge projections, use of mixed reality technology, etc.



As technology advances, high resolution remote sensing data could be captured in novel ways (e.g., satellites).  The team will continue its investigation in collecting data in the most accurate and cost-effective methods available.

Localized versions of CLIVE will be integrated in a network of new locations.  Climate change impacts and adaptation strategies could then be collaboratively investigated at a regional level. 

Related proposals

In the current competition, the Coastal Hazard Wheel system (, Incentivized Disaster Preparedness and Gamification (, and Climate Information Mobile App ( resonate with our desire to combine science, data and analysis, and present it in a format that is more intuitive and accessible.  By increasing the adaptive capacity of residents and decision-makers with information, it gives them the ability to proactively adapt to climate change before disaster strikes.


Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. December 7, 2016. When climate change hits home. URL:

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. February 19, 2016. UPEI's Climate Research Lab gets $250K for coastal erosion drone research. URL:

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. December 5, 2015. COP21: P.E.I. Premier Wade MacLauchlan to present UPEI sea-level rise tool. URL:

Fenech, A., N. Hedley, A. Chen and A. Clark. 2017. Building a Tool for Visualizing the Impacts of Climate Change on Prince Edward Island, Canada. In Leal Filho, W. et al. (eds). Climate Adaptation in North America. Springer Science+Business Media LLC. New York, NY, USA.

Globe and Mail. Feb 20, 2014. Erosion swallowing up PEI at rate of 28 centimetres a year. URL:

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Lonergan, C. and N. Hedley (2014). Flexible mixed reality and situated simulation as emerging forms of geovisualization. Cartographica 49:3, 2014, pp. 175-187. University of Toronto Press. DOI: 10.3138/carto.49.3.2440.

Working Group on Adaptation and Climate Resilience (2016). Final Report, Government of Canada.