Factors in Rapid Coastal Retreat: Comparing Two New Datasets for Alaska's Arctic Coast

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Bretwood M Higman, Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States, Ann Gibbs, USGS California Water Science Center Menlo Park, Menlo Park, CA, United States and Bruce M Richmond, USGS California Water Science Center Sacramento, Sacramento, CA, United States
Dramatic coastal change dominated by erosion and retreat is widespread on arctic coasts, and two extensive new datasets in Alaska's Arctic provide insight into the extent and character of this change.

ShoreZone data provides detailed categorical descriptions of physical coastal morphology for about 6000 km of Beaufort and Chukchi Seas coast. A USGS National Assessment of Shoreline Change (NASC) study documents coastal change rates at 50 meter intervals along about 1300 km of coast distributed between the Canadian Border and Icy Cape, almost entirely within the ShoreZone study area.

Descriptive ShoreZone data provides a framework for better understanding coastal environments and their importance to change rates. We are applying a new method for clustering and comparing ShoreZone units to generate subsets of NASC coastal change rates with similar coastal morphology, and mapping areas outside the NASC study that show similarity to areas with documented high rates of erosion or accretion. Joint analysis of these two datasets provides insight into the processes that control coastal change, and a starting point for understanding how climate change is transforming Arctic coasts.