Movie:Arctic Permafrost Coastal Erosion Simulation


Information Page: Arctic Permafrost Coastal Erosion Simulation

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Bluff erosion

Key Attributes

Domain: coastal, environmental controls
Keywords: Permafrost, Thermal Erosion, Arctic Alaska
Model name: Animation model name
Name: Katy, Barnhart
Where: Drew Point, Alaska, Beaufort Sea
When: August 2010

Short Description

Grade level: Under graduate (13-16), Graduate / Professional

Statement: Simulation of coastal erosion of permafrost bluffs in Alaska

Abstract: Long stretches of permafrost coast in the Arctic region consist of ice-rich sediments. These permafrost areas have been experiencing rapid warming over the last decades. The warming melts the permafrost, but it also exposes the coast longer to the forces of the ocean because the sea-ice free season has expanded.

This particular simulation shows the permafrost coast near DrewPoint, along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea. At Drew Point, there are nowadays about twice as many days of open water than in the late 1970's. The simulation calculates the distance to the sea ice edge, which is 100's of kilometers in August. This means that storms can generate larger waves during that time of the year. Also when a storm passes and there are sustained winds, water will be 'set up' against the coast. You can see this increase in teh water level in the movie. Absorped heat in the ocean water melts the ice in the toppled block. The bluff is approximately 4.5 m high. The block is not necessarily eroded by waves, but also just by melt ( this is called - thermal erosion). The warm sea water needs to touch the block and then rapid melt will occur. The massive block disappears in about a week.




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