Relative Sea Level Change in Western Alaska As Constructed from Satellite Altimetry and Repeat GPS Measurements.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Kimberly Grace DeGrandpre1,2, Jeffrey Todd Freymueller1 and Nicole Kinsman2, (1)University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK, United States, (2)Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, Fairbanks, AK, United States
Western Alaska is a remote region populated by small communities situated in low-lying coastal environments that are sensitive to variations in local relative sea level (RSL). RSL is the measurement of sea level relative to the local ground surface. Quantification of RSL variation requires measuring vertical velocities for both tectonic motion (onshore component) and the ocean surface (offshore component). Tide gauges in conjunction with tidal benchmarks record RSL, but in Western Alaska these datums are of short duration and too sparsely distributed both temporally and spatially to be able to accurately project RSL trends. Satellite altimetry is not suited for near shore estimates, but is used in this study because of the limited tide gauge coverage both spatially and temporally.

During the summers of 2013 and 2014, campaign GPS surveys of geodetic benchmarks were undertaken to produce statistically significant velocity measurements of the tectonic component of sea level change for the Seward Peninsula, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and Alaska Peninsula. Occupations of tidal benchmarks were also collected to compare historic tidal records from the mid-1900s to more recent data. Preliminary results from the GPS survey suggest regional subsidence of approximately 1-2 mm/yr of the Seward Peninsula, which supports one of the current glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) models available for Western Alaska. The vertical velocity of the tectonic component and the satellite derived mean sea level trend will be coupled to produce a model of RSL change in Western Alaska that will be used to aid local communities in the development of adaptation strategies for changing coastal environments.