Climate impacts to Arctic coasts, recent activities

Science Center Objects

New instruments installed to measure Arctic coastal erosion; community outreach event held

April 2019

A ground-level view filled mostly with snow, with an arctic bluff in the background that has a pole mounted on it.

April 15th, 2019

A ground-level view filled mostly with snow, with an arctic bluff in the background that has a pole mounted on it.

April 19th, 2019

USGS Arctic researchers aimed a cellular-connected camera, used for tracking game, on another camera system as a means to keep an eye on the integrity of those video cameras “across the way.” What's funny is that the game cam went offline over the cold winter, and the scientists thought they'd lost it. Then suddenly, on April 15th, the game cam emailed an image! The one shown here is a bit more colorful and from a few days later, on April 19th. Now they know that #1 this game cam is still working (but just got a little frozen!) and #2 that their tower for mounting video cameras (used to observe and quantify coastal processes) is still standing and ready for summer installation.

Read more about our ongoing research about climate impacts to Arctic coasts, and how we use video imagery to study coastal change in Barter Island, Alaska.

July 2018

In July 2018, three USGS Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center researchers installed thermometers, video cameras, a seismometer, and a wave gauge to measure permafrost temperatures and bluff erosion on the Arctic Ocean coast of Barter Island, Alaska. Combined data from these instruments will be used to test the possibility of remotely estimating wave heights without installing and maintaining wave gauges in the ocean. USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison devised and lead the installation of video cameras and seismometer. Coastal erosion along the Arctic coast of Alaska threatens Native Alaskan villages, sensitive ecosystems, energy- and defense-related infrastructure, and large tracts of Native Alaskan, State, and Federally managed land. The scientists also hosted a community outreach event to present results from earlier studies and to discuss their ongoing research. Government officials, residents, and non-residents attended the event. PCMSC researchers particularly appreciated the local coastal information, insights, and concerns provided by long-time community residents.
View photos of the installation process for the cameras and the seismometer below.

Men and women sitting in a room with tables and chairs listening to a woman talk, she's pointing at a screen on the wall.

USGS oceanographer Li Erikson speaks at a community outreach event on Barter Island, Alaska, to present results from earlier USGS studies and to discuss ongoing USGS research.

View of muddy, eroding coastal bluffs with a visible permafrost layer and tumbling tundra on top.

Photograph of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, located on the northern coast of Alaska.

A man stands smiling on a high coastal bluff near solar panels and a pole supported by guy wires, with a camera mounted on top.

USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison poses in front of the USGS video camera installation atop the coastal bluff of Barter Island in northern Alaska.

A man wearing cold-weather gear and standing on a high coastal bluff points to an instrument that is mounted on short a pole.

USGS scientist Cordell Johnson points to the Raspberry Shake, a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. Johnson mounted the Raspberry Shake to an aluminum pole which he will then drive into the ground to bury the instrument beneath the tundra. This process will help isolate it from the wind.

A small instrument with a USGS logo sticker with wires coming out of it is in a hole in the ground.

This device, called a Raspberry Shake, is a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. It is being carefully buried in this shallow hole in the tundra, to isolate it from wind.