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Canada's Magdalen islands
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Video. Watch: Canada's Magdalen islands have front-row seat to climate change

In the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, on the small Magdalen islands, cliffs are receding and the sand dunes are disappearing, leaving homes vulnerable to the lashing waves.

In the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, on the small Magdalen islands, cliffs are receding and the sand dunes are disappearing, leaving homes vulnerable to the lashing waves.

The archipelago, part of Quebec province in eastern Canada, is in a race against time -- and the elements -- to survive global warming. 

The Magdalen Islands are notably losing one of their most important defences in winter: ice. It has always served as a sort of shield, but without it, the coasts are completely exposed when rough storms hit.

With each cycle of freezing and thawing, the red sandstone cliffs crumble more easily.

The islands' picturesque shores are already receding by an average of half a metre a year, according to a study by the University of Quebec at Rimouski.

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