Spatio-temporal Dynamics of Coastal Bluff Erosion near Barrow Alaska over the Past Decade

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Keith Brandwood Kofoed1, Abdiel F Lopez1, Adrian Aguirre1, Qaiyaan Aiken2, Ryan P Cody1, Allison G Gaylord3, William F Manley4, Erika Green2, Lars Nelson2, Vanessa Lougheed1, Aaron A Velasco1 and Craig E Tweedie1, (1)University of Texas at El Paso, El Paso, TX, United States, (2)UMIAQ, LLC, Anchorage, AK, United States, (3)Nuna Technologies, Homer, AK, United States, (4)Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Boulder, CO, United States
Arctic coastal systems are recognized as being one of the most climate change - vulnerable ecosystems on Earth and represent a complex nexus for examining change at the interface between marine, terrestrial, atmospheric, cryospheric and social systems. Although coastal erosion has received increased attention in the Arctic, few studies have examined the fine scale spatiotemporal dynamics and variability in erosion rates relative to the range of factors that act concomitantly to control erosion (e.g. duration of ice free seas, bathymetry, wave action, sea and air temperature, landscape morphology). This study reports on the spatiotemporal dynamics of annual DGPS surveys of eroding coastal bluffs in northern Alaska near the city of Barrow. Surveys along ca. 11km of the Elson Lagoon coast have been conducted since 2002 and additional surveys along ca. 120km of Elson Lagoon and Chuckhi Sea coast have been conducted since 2013. There has been strong inter-annual spatiotemporal variability in erosion rates with no indication of a long term change in erosion rates over time. Factors controlling wave intensity (e.g. wind run, off shore bathymetry, aspect of the coast relative to prevailing winds) explain most variability in erosion rates over time but during relatively calm periods, landscape history and morphology become more important. These findings highlight the extreme fine scale spatiotemporal heterogeneity in erosion rates along the Arctic Coast, and the importance of incorporating both storm-related climatic events and landscape characteristics when forecasting future environmental states in Arctic coastal landscapes. Case studies outlining new remote sensing technologies and future directions of study will also be outlined including terrestrial and airborne LiDAR, and Kite, UAV, and satellite imagery that is being used to derive and monitor topographic and hydrological change near eroding coastal bluffs; a wireless sensor network of micrometeorological and optical sensors; low cost tri-axial accelerometers that measure wave amplitude, period and azimuth; a survey vessel for mapping near shore bathymetry and water chemistry; and a web-based decision tool for improving management and planning of the coastal zone near Barrow.