Title Fifty years of coastal erosion and retrogressive thaw slump activity on Herschel Island, southern Beaufort Sea, Yukon Territory, Canada
Author Lantuit, H.; Pollard, W.H.
Author Affil Lantuit, H., McGill University, Department of Geography, Montreal, QC, Canada. Other: Université Blaise Pascal, France
Source Paraglacial geomorphology; processes and paraglacial context, edited by D. Mercier and S. Etienne. Geomorphology, 95(1-2), p.84- 102, . Publisher: Elsevier, Amsterdam, Netherlands. ISSN: 0169-555X
Publication Date Mar. 1, 2008
Notes In English. Based on Publisher- supplied data CRREL Acc. No: 64000027
Index Terms climatic change; erosion; geomorphology; glacial geology; ice wedges; mass movements (geology); meltwater; paleoclimatology; permafrost; photogrammetry; shores; shore erosion; thawing; thermokarst; Arctic region; Arctic Ocean--Beaufort Sea; Canada--Yukon Territory; Arctic Ocean; Beaufort Sea; Canada; Cenozoic; climate change; coastal environment; cyclic processes; erosion rates; Herschel Island; Holocene; International Polar Year 2007-08; IPY 2007-08 Research Publications; littoral erosion; mass movements; periglacial features; Quaternary; retrogradation; sea- level changes; shorelines; slumping; upper Holocene; Western Canada; Yukon Territory
Abstract Patterns of coastal erosion in the Arctic differ dramatically from those coasts in more temperate environments. Thick sea ice and shore-fast ice limit wave-based erosional processes to a brief open water season, however despite this, permafrost coasts containing massive ice, ice wedges and ice- bonded sediments tend to experience high rates of erosion. These high rates of erosion reflect the combined thermal-mechanical processes of thawing permafrost, melting ground ice, and wave action. Climate change in the Arctic is expected to result in increased rates of coastal erosion due to warming permafrost, increasing active layer depths and thermokarst, rising sea levels, reduction in sea ice extent and duration, and increasing storm impacts. With the most ice- rich permafrost in the Canadian Arctic, the southern Beaufort Sea coast between the Tuktoyaktuk Peninsula and the Alaskan border is subject to high rates of erosion and retrogressive thaw slump activity. Under many climate change scenarios this area is also predicted to experience the greatest warming in the Canadian Arctic. This paper presents results of a remote sensing study on the long- term patterns of coastal erosion and retrogressive thaw slump activity for Herschel Island in the northern Yukon Territory. Using orthorectified airphotos from 1952 and 1970 and an Ikonos image from 2000 corrected with control points collected by kinematic differential global positioning system and processed using softcopy photogrammetric tools, mean coastal retreat rates of 0.61 m/yr and 0.45 m/yr were calculated for the periods 1952-1970 and 1970- 2000, respectively. The highest coastal retreat rates are on north-west facing shorelines which correspond to the main direction of storm-related wave attack. During the period 1970-2000 coastal retreat rates for south to south-east facing shorelines displayed a distinct increase even though these are the most sheltered orientations. However, south to south-east facing shorelines correspond to the orientations where the highest densities of retrogressive thaw slumps are observed. Differences in rates of headwall retreat of retrogressive thaw slumps and coastal erosion results in the formation of larger thermokarst scars and the development of polycyclic thaw slumps on south to south-east exposures. The number and the total area of retrogressive thaw slumps increased by 125% and 160%, respectively, between 1952 and 2000. As well, the proportion of active retrogressive thaw slumps increased dramatically. Polycyclic retrogressive thaw slumps appear to develop in a periodic fashion, related to retrogressive thaw slump stage and maximum inland extent.
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10.1016/j.geomorph.2006.07.040
Publication Type journal article
Record ID 294802