Coastal erosion is the removal of land by wave action, tidal currents, wave currents, or drainage. Right now this problem is heavily affecting Alaska. Erosion in Alaska has doubled over the past five years. The average rate of erosion in the 1950’s was twenty feet it has now reached 45 feet between 2002-2007. Some scientist believe that this increase of erosion may be a short term increase. But many of those scientist are concerned that this may continue to grow. “Erosion of coastlines is a natural process, and this segment of coastline has historically eroded at some of the highest rates in the circum-Arctic, so the changes occurring on this open-ocean coast might not be occurring in other Arctic coastal settings,” said author Benjamin Jones.
The coastal erosion problem is a result of a chain reaction of other problems including changing arctic conditions, declining sea ice extent, increasing summertime sea-surface temperature, rising sea level, and increases in storm power and corresponding wave action. All these problems can lead to more problems it seems never ending. Some of the other possible problems are “in freshwater and terrestrial wildlife habitats, and in disappearing cultural sites, as well as adversely impacting coastal villages and towns. In addition, oil test wells are threatened.”
Also the same scientists have found many settlements that once stood on the coast of Beaufort Sea under water along the coast. One of the settlements that disappeared is a old trading post called Esook.
The erosion rates must be constantly watched with increasing arctic temperature because they will affect the coast and oceans ecosystems. One spot along the Beaufort coast in Alaska in 2007 had been recorded as eroding 80 feet. The main cause of erosion is thought to be westerly storms and there were none recorded that year. To help better understand this sometimes confusing problem is for scientists to just continue collecting data and analyzing it.