Exploring permafrost coastal erosion in the Arctic

phys.org | 2/5/2019 | Staff
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The remote town of Barrow, Alaska, home to more than 4,000 people, touts picturesque views of the Arctic Ocean as well as an unparalleled connection to the Alaskan wild, but underneath its stunning beauty lies a major global crisis—permafrost coastal erosion—causing Barrow to gradually slip into the sea.

The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the planet, causing ice to melt and sea levels to rise, according to "Snow, Water, Ice and Permafrost in the Arctic (SWIPA)," an update to the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. This rise is threatening the entire town of Barrow as well as the surrounding communities. In fact, it has gotten so bad that former North Slope Borough Mayor Edward Itta called Barrow "ground zero for climate-change science."

Thanks - Research - National - Science - Foundation

But all may not be lost, thanks to research funded by a four-year National Science Foundation grant and led by Ming Xiao, associate professor in civil engineering at Penn State.

"We know that permafrost coastal erosion is happening and the effects it's having on the towns and indigenous people," said Xiao. "And a solution is imminently needed."

Order - Solutions - Xiao - Collaborators - Problem

In order to come up with viable solutions, Xiao and his collaborators are looking at the problem systematically. This project aims to bring scientists and researchers from many disciplines together to figure out exactly what the challenges are and identify possible solutions through a series of international workshops, convergent research collaborations and direct interaction with local media.

The first segment of the research occurred in Alaska recently. Xiao joined 25 other researchers whose expertise was in social science and natural science disciplines, including coastal geophysics, soil physics, climate modelling, atmospheric science, demography and ecology, as well as disciplines in civil and environmental engineering, for a two-day...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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