Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Erosion rates double along portion of Alaska's coast

19.02.2009
Skyrocketing coastal erosion occurred in Alaska between 2002 and 2007 along a 64 kilometer (40 mile) stretch of the Beaufort Sea, a new study finds.

The surge of erosion in recent years, averaging more than double historical rates, is threatening coastal towns and destroying Alaskan cultural relics.

Average annual erosion rates along this segment of the Beaufort Sea, which lies North of Alaska, had already climbed from about 6.1 m (20 ft) per year between the mid-1950s and late-1970s, to 8.5 m (28 ft.) per year between the late-1970s and early 2000s, the study's authors note. The most recent erosion rates reached an average of 14 meters (45 feet) per year during the 2002-2007 period, reported Benjamin Jones, a geologist with the U.S Geological Survey in Anchorage, and his colleagues on February 14 in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union (AGU).

Changing arctic conditions may have caused these recent shifts in the rate and pattern of land loss along this coastline segment, the authors propose. The changes include declining sea ice extent, increasing summertime sea-surface temperature, rising sea level, and increases in storm power and corresponding wave action. "These factors may be leading to a new era in ocean-land interactions that seem to be repositioning and reshaping the Arctic coastline," Jones and his colleagues write. The authors also documented sections of Beaufort Sea coastline that eroded more than 24 m (80 ft.) during 2007.

The researchers caution that the recent patterns documented in their study may not be representative of the overall Arctic. However, they may well forecast the future pattern of coastline erosion in the region.

"This segment of coastline has historically eroded at some of the highest rates in the circum- Arctic, so the changes occurring on this open-ocean coast might not be occurring in other Arctic coastal settings," says Jones. But Arctic climate change is leading to rapid and complex environmental responses in both terrestrial and marine ecosystems in ways that will almost certainly affect the rate and pattern of coastline erosion in the Arctic, the authors write.

Interestingly, there were no westerly storm events during the summer of 2007, traditionally believed to be the drivers of coastal erosion in this region the Arctic. However, 2007 did boast the minimum arctic sea-ice extent and the warmest ocean temperatures on record.

"The recent trends toward warming sea-surface temperatures and rising sea-level may act to weaken the permafrost-dominated coastline by helping more quickly thaw ice-rich coastal bluffs and may potentially explain the disproportionate increase in erosion along ice-rich coastal bluffs relative to ice-poor coastal bluffs that we documented in our study," Jones says. "Any increases in already rapid rates of coastal retreat will have further ramifications on Arctic landscapes - including losses in freshwater and terrestrial wildlife habitats, in subsistence grounds for local communities, and in disappearing cultural sites, as well as adversely impacting coastal villages and towns. In addition, oil test wells are threatened."

Jones and his coauthors verified in another recent study the disappearance of cultural and historical sites along the same stretch of the Beaufort Sea. Those sites include Esook, a turn-of- the-century trading post now buried in the sea and Kolovik (Qalluvik), an abandoned Inupiaq village site that may soon be lost. At another site, near Lonely, Alaska, Jones snapped a picture of a wooden whaling boat that had rested on a bluff overhanging the ocean for nearly a century. A few months later the boat had washed away to sea. The study was published in the journal Arctic.

Title:
"Increase in the rate and uniformity of coastline erosion in Arctic Alaska"
Authors:
Benjamin M. Jones: Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.
Christopher D. Arp: Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.
Mark T. Jorgenson: ABR. Inc., Fairbanks, Alaska, USA.
Kenneth M. Hinkel: Department of Geography, University of Cincinatti, Cincinatti, Ohio, USA.
Joel A. Schmutz: Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.
Paul L. Flint: Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey, Anchorage, Alaska, USA.

Citation:
Jones, B. M., C. D. Arp, M. T. Jorgenson, K. M., Hinkel, J. A. Schmutz, and P. L. Flint (2009), Increase in the rate and uniformity of coastline erosion in Arctic Alaska, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L03503, doi:10.1029/2008GL036205.
Contact information for author:
Benjamin M. Jones: +1 (907) 786-7033, bjones@usgs.gov

Peter Weiss | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht New Study Will Help Find the Best Locations for Thermal Power Stations in Iceland
19.01.2017 | University of Gothenburg

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>