BOULDER, Colo., Dec. 16 (UPI) — University of Colorado-Boulder scientists say they’ve discovered part of Alaska’s northern coast is eroding at a rate of up to 45 feet annually.
The study showed the erosion is being caused by declining sea ice, warming seawater and increased wave activity between Point Barrow and Prudhoe Bay, toppling 12-foot-high bluffs consisting of up to 80 percent ice into the Beaufort Sea.
“What we are seeing now is a triple whammy effect,” said Associate Professor Robert Anderson, a co-author of the research. “Since the summer arctic sea ice cover continues to decline and arctic air and sea temperatures continue to rise, we really don’t see any prospect for this process ending.”
According to a separate university study, this year’s arctic sea ice during the annual September minimum was declining at a rate of 11.2 percent per decade. Only 19 percent of the ice cover was more than two years old — the least ever recorded in the satellite record and far below the 1981-2000 summer average of 48 percent.
The study included Gary Clow and Frank Urban of the U.S. Geological Survey. Tim Stanton of the Naval Postgraduate School, Cameron Wobus of Stratus Consulting and Irina Overeem of the university’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.
The research was presented this week in San Francisco during the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.
Copyright 2009 by United Press International