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CLIVE allows citizens to visualize 3D sea-level rise and storm surge scenarios at local community scales using past data and IPCC models



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

CLIVE combines data from numerous sources, including an extensive province-wide archive of aerial photographs documenting coastline erosion as far as 1968, and the latest high-resolution digital elevation data derived from laser surveys. These historical data and model projections of future sea-level rise are used to develop analytical visualizations of coastal erosion regimes and potential future sea-level rise scenarios.

Using 3D game engine technology adapted to serious scientific communication. CLIVE enables citizens to interactively fly around and view the province of Prince Edward Island (PEI) at all scales, while manipulating historical data and projected models through time.

By allowing citizens to view scientific data and explore climate change projections at any scale in their own neighborhood, we help them understand these often abstract phenomena at local, human scales. We believe this is a way to connect all stakeholders to this mutual problem, enhancing awareness, education, dialogue, and collaborative problem-solving at all scales of society and government.

This project has been in progress for 18 months. We launched a fully operational version of CLIVE for the Canadian province of Prince Edward Island in February 2014. The tool has been well-received by provincial and municipal government, citizen groups and others. It is now touring PEI, where we are studying its use and reception by stakeholders.

This project demonstrates new interactive geovisual tools and workflow through which researchers, citizens, communities and governments may build agile knowledge networks to mitigate the environmental challenges we face from climate change, by integrating and localizing data.

PEI coastal infrastructure at risk

Rate of erosion of PEI's coastline

Category of the action

Communicating Coastal Risk and Resiliency

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 - CLIVE v1.0. The primary objectives of CLIVE v1.0 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


We have completed several phases of development and implementation in collaboration with partners in government, municipalities, professional organizations and community groups.

We have developed a fully scalable workflow.

We have completed an interactive geovisual tool (see report and video titled Globe and Mail, 2014).

We are currently immersed in a program of deep community and stakeholder engagement.

The key actions we have completed are as follows.

May 2013: CLIVE collaborative visioning/design/brainstorm between SFU Spatial Interface Research Lab and UPEI Climate Lab; CLIVE climate science design; CLIVE geovisual analysis and interface system design; CLIVE workflow design for tool development, public partner engagement, and scalability.

June-Nov 2013: CLIVE interactive climate change visualization development.

Nov 2013-Feb 2014: CLIVE system target audience validation and refinement; C2C team consultation and partnership establishment with provincial/municipal/First Nations stakeholders who have domain experts, environmental managers and data repositories.

Feb 2014: public launch of CLIVE v1.0. Over three hundred members of the Prince Edward Island public attended a public lecture on CLIVE on 11 February 2014. This, coupled with extensive national print media coverage (Globe and Mail) and national radio media coverage (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s World Report), prompted many provincial, national and international coastal home or cottage owners to contact the Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island in an attempt to examine CLIVE more closely. To meet this demand, the provincial government sponsored the Climate Research Lab to conduct community consultation sessions across Prince Edward Island 

July 2014: CLIVE Road Show. Dr. Adam Fenech, director of UPEI's Climate Research Lab, toured Prince Edward Island communities to give demonstrations of the Coastal Impacts Visualization Environment tool, better known as CLIVE. Dr. Fenech led discussions about coastal erosion and sea-level rise, and the risk to homes, cottages, roads, and communities.
CLIVE allowed stakeholders and citizens to manipulate a 3-D map of Prince Edward Island with a video game controller, and explore erosion and sea-level rise over the next 90 years, and their impact on Prince Edward Island infrastructure. 
Attendees were encouraged to share ideas about how we might best adapt to these conditions, and through CLIVE, view local areas that may be affected.
 The schedule included: Victoria July 8; Souris July 9; Abram-Village July 15; Montague July 17; North Rustico July 22;
Charlottetown July 23; Summerside July 24; Alberton July 30. The events are sponsored by the PEI Department of Environment, Labour, and Justice, and by the Climate Research Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island.

CLIVE being shown to citizens, July 2014

CLIVE being shown to citizens in Charlottetwon, PEI.

Based on direct experience from the past 18 months developing CLIVE v1.0, presenting it to stakeholders, and receiving feedback from citizens, we have learned much about best practices for: visioning and design; delegation of climate science versus geovisual analysis and interface development; choosing the right moment to integrate; how to avoid over-complicating tool development; how best to consult with/seek guidance/gain support from stakeholders of all kinds; how to engage with stakeholders, and deliver mutual ownership of the science and its implications.

This knowledge capital is critical to inform adaptation of CLIVE to other regions and communities. CLIVE is designed to integrate multi-form data and information into accessible, engaging, science-based 3D environment for citizens and stakeholder use in any location. It is important to acknowledge, however, that scaling geovisual information tools to new communities, regions and jurisdictions is not just about adapting technology and data. It is as much about tuning the whole system/workflow/information capability to the needs and contexts of specific communities, jurisdictions and organizations. This requires multi-stakeholder engagement at every stage of the design, development, deployment and evaluation of geovisual climate change engagement tools such as CLIVE.

In CLIVE v2.0, we will implement ways to:

  • i) integrate volunteered geographic information (VGI) (see Goodchild, 2007) for climate impact risk perception;
  • ii) integrate VGI and crowdsourcing to document and geolocate climate change impact narratives;
  • iii) integrate previous hurricane inundation simulation techniques (see Benoy et al., 2013) to add storm surge analyses to CLIVE;
  • iv) explore the potential of new displays such as Oculus Rift as a more immersive way to deliver and experience analytical climate impact futures;
  • v) integrate plug-and-play data acquisition workflows that will enable jurisdictions of all sizes to gather and integrate new types of data into CLIVE (from human narratives, to social demographics, to data captured by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs));
  • vi) expand analysis of impacts to key infrastructure (such as the sewage treatment plant on Lennox Island, square structure in centre of island in screenshots below), to other resources (armouring of infrastructure; space needed for redistribution of people, infrastructure, transportation, critical services), and their requirements (drinking water, electricity, communications).


Our team members already have experience with using VGI to document risk perception (see Hedley 2012; Hedley et al., 2013). In the coastal climate impact context, we believe these approaches may allow us to generate rich collections of: citizen narratives of the coastal changes and impacts they have observed over time; and citizen risk perceptions of vulnerable areas (which may also reveal new metrics of vulnerability).

Our action plan is also designed to align with three recent priorities (and challenges) announced by NOAA, USGS, and the U.S. Administration.

First, our action plan responds to the U.S. National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) prioritization of the importance of translating and communicating climate science into societal awareness (NOAA, 2014). CLIVE demonstrates and delivers a science-based, stakeholder-tuned, community-targeted geovisual interface (and workflow) that responds to all three critical questions raised by NOAA (NOAA, 2014): “How are climate and weather changing? How are climate-related changes impacting my community? What changes can we expect in the future?” 

Second, our project demonstrates the importance (and capability) of 3D representation of landscape to help communicate pressing environmental challenges - as stressed by the U.S. Geological Survey with the announcement of the new 3D Elevation Programme (3DEP) (USGS, 2014).

Thirdly, in responding to the challenges and needs identified by NOAA and USGS, our work (the tool, workflow and engagement with society) demonstrates how we can build resilience to climate change and natural disasters through, among other mechanisms, advanced mapping data and tools - a priority identified by the White House in 2014 (The White House 2014). CLIVE engages all of these challenges, combining climate science, and models with historical and contemporary laser-scanned landscape data. 


Who will take these actions?

Adam Fenech, Ph.D. (Toronto). Director of UPEI's Climate Research Lab Conducts research on the vulnerability, impacts and adaptation to climate change. Dr. Fenech has worked extensively in climate change since the IPCC First Assessment Report in 1988. Has edited 7 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.

Nick Hedley, Ph.D. (Washington). Director of SFU's Spatial Interface Research Lab. Dr. Hedley is an expert in geovisualization, geovisual analysis and communication using 3D interface technologies. Dr. Hedley  designs new ways to represent and analyze complex spatial phenomena, using: 2D and 3D GIS; virtual environments; 3D game engines; mixed reality; and mobile AR.He has developed visualization interfaces for analysis and communication of  tsunami risks, marine debris, and climate change futures. Dr. Hedley is the leading intelligence behind the geovisualization systems developed for CLIVE.

Alex Chen, B.Sc (SFU/SIRL RA). Master's Student at U. of Toronto, beginning Fall 2014. A key developer of CLIVE v1.0, Alex has studied GIScience, 3D geovisualization and spatial interface research at SFU and Applied Climate Science at the U. of Toronto. Alex has used 3D geovisual analysis in oil pipeline scenarios in BC, and storm surges in the Gulf of Mexico.

Andrew Doiron, BSc. (2011, UPEI) Research Assistant UPEI Climate Lab. Andrew combines GIS, 3D visualization, database systems, and remote sensing. Andrew will be building on the knowledge gained during CLIVE v1.0 project to study the impacts of climate change and storm surges as a Master’s student at UPEI.

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

What are other key benefits?

Development of CLIVE v1.0 has resulted in:

1. a powerful climate impact visualization tool;

2. an agile, transferable workflow that can be adapted to localized versions for any jurisdiction or community;

3. translation of climate science into communities allowing stakeholders to gain ownership through input and use.

4. demonstrated public engagement, adoption and social mobilization;  

5. changes in government policy and professional practice in PEI;

6. training of sharp junior researchers of climate science communication in each of our labs

7. a workflow that allows straightforward integration of NOAA and regional/municipal data assets, and citizen narratives

8. demonstrated translation and communication of climate science into societal awareness (NOAA 2014)

9. demonstrated leveraging of new 3D landscape data assets to build resilience to climate change (USGS 2014; White House, 2014)

What are the proposal’s costs?

From a financial standpoint, the cost of getting to this point with CLIVE v1.0 has been approximately $75,000 over an 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.

CLIVE v2.0 will add considerable capability to the existing architecture. This will enable delivery of: rich geo-located social datasets (VGI of risk perception and human narratives); seasonal storm events (surges) occurring 'on top' of the background climate-influenced sea-level change; integration and evaluation of immersive 3D displays as tools to further engage environmental scenarios to citizen stakeholders. We anticipate a 2-year project to begin with costs of $70K per year (covering people time, equipment, field data gathering and public engagement). 

Adapting CLIVE to other regions and communities is straightforward. Key steps include: determining spatial extent of community/region; identifying preferred resolution and capability of localized version of CLIVE; identifying existing data assets, their suitability, and/or need for new data; identifying timeframe for implementation.

Other potential costs include economic impacts of revealing projected coastline loss or modification. We were quite concerned that the futures that CLIVE showed might result in considerable social, economic or political fallout. On the contrary, we have been inspired by the way in which members of government, municipalities, the business community and private citizens have engaged with CLIVE in a pragmatic manner. Our early impression is that, because of CLIVE’s ability to allow users to navigate to a localized view of coastal erosion data and future sea-level rise projections that has personal significance – it has led to widespread use by many groups across the province. In some cases, it has changed policy and been adopted by professional groups in order to anticipate potential impacts to specific business sectors.

Time line

Short-medium term:

So far we have completed the following phases of CLIVE-PEI

Phase 1a        (Summer 2013) Initial CLIVE science and tool design were brainstormed and planned

Phase 1b        (Fall 2013-Feb 2014) Initial prototype development and completion

Phase 1c        (Feb 2014-June 2014) Public tool launch & engagement

We are currently conducting Phase 1d

Phase 1d        (July-Aug 2014) CLIVE roadshow to engage citizens and gather user data

Phase 1e       Implement Oculus rift for CLIVE v1.0, conduct laboratory user testing

Phase 1f         (Aug 2014) write up Phase 1 report

Following completion of 1e, we will embark on Phase 2 (CLIVE v2.0)

Phase 2a        (September 2014) design CLIVE V2.0 specifications

Phase 2b        identify new CLIVE candidate regions/communities/partnerships

                      We are already gathering LiDAR to build CLIVE New Brunswick.

                      We have also been approached by UHawaii, Government of Bermuda and Stop the Drop (Lake Huron).        

Phase 2c       develop climate risk perception VGI architecture (deploy early 2015)

Phase 2d       develop coast impact narratives architecture (deploy early 2015)

Phase 2c      implement Oculus rift option (will update CLIVE v1.0 solution with contemporary tech)

Phase 2d      stakeholder engagement for feedback and refinement

Phase 2e      public tool launch, deployment & engagement (mid 2015)

In Phase 3 (2015) we will deliver CLIVE AR, using mixed reality technology developed at the Spatial Interface Research Lab (see Lonergan and Hedley, 2014) where we will be able to view and interact with climate data and simulations using mixed reality technology.


Our long term plan is to use our flexible workflow to deliver localized versions of CLIVE (combining federal/state/municipal/citizen data) in a network of new locations. As we deploy new versions of CLIVE, we will be able to perform a comparative study of the interplay between community/data contexts and climate science communication.


Related proposals

In the current competition, the Mapping Climate Stories to Share Solutions and Stories from the Coast proposals resonate with our desire to combine science, data and analysis, with local, long-term, first-person human knowledge and experience.  The King Tides Project: Snap the Shore, See the Future fused with CLIVE might lead to some powerful linkages with other coastal events and curriculum development. 




Benoy, N., Koziatek, O., Loader, D., Chen, A., Lonergan, C., and N. Hedley (2013). Developing 3D Hurricane Geovisualizations to Inform Risk Management and Mitigation. Proceedings of 2013 ESRI User Conference, Vancouver Canada November 13, 2013. Paper can be found by city/date/paper title in online proceedings at:

CBC News. 2014. Flooded future glimpsed by residents. URL:

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

Goodchild, M.F. 2007. Citizens as sensors: the world of volunteered geography. GeoJournal, August 2007, Volume 69, Issue 4, pp 211-221. Springer.

Hedley, N. 2012. Capturing dynamic maps of risk perception in real communities: using mobile networks and citizen sensors to improve situated tsunami hazard awareness. Paper 310 in Proceedings of the 9th International ISCRAM Conference – Vancouver, Canada, April 2012 L. Rothkrantz, J. Ristvej and Z. Franco, eds.

Hedley, N., Aagesen, S., and C. Lonergan. 2013. Documenting situated tsunami risk perception in coastal environments. Proc. 11th Intl. Symp. for GIS and Computer Cartography for Coastal Zone Mgmt (CoastGIS 2013). Victoria, Canada: 74-76.

Journal Pioneer. 2014. New interactive tool shows PEI’s eroding coastline. Feb 10, 2014. URL:

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

National Oceanographic and Oceanic Administration (NOAA). 2014. Climate. URL: (Accessed July 1, 2014.)

United States Geological Survey (2014) 3D Elevation Program (3DEP). 22 July 2014

The White House (2014) Office of the Press Secretary. FACT SHEET: Taking Action to Support State, Local, and Tribal Leaders as They Prepare Communities for the Impacts of Climate Change.