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 Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>