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Barrier islands and spits of northern Alaska: Decadal scale morphological change

April 15, 2023

Arctic barrier islands and spits are dynamic features influenced by a variety of oceanographic, geologic, and environmental factors. Many serve as habitat and protection for native species and shelter the coast from waves and storms that can flood and erode the adjacent mainland. This paper summarizes results of a study documenting changes to barrier morphology along the North Slope coast of Alaska between the United States-Canadian border and Cape Beaufort, from 1947 to 2020. Changes considered include number of barriers, area and perimeter, shoreline length, barrier sinuosity and width, presence and number of relict terminus features, presence and coverage of tundra vegetation, barrier orientation, termini migration rates, and elevation metrics. Wave conditions are also summarized and related to changes in barrier morphology. The results of this study help to better predict future barrier evolution and prevalence along Alaska’s coast by increasing our understanding of Arctic barrier development, migration, and degradation via the evaluation of historical morphometrics.

Publication Year 2023
Title Barrier islands and spits of northern Alaska: Decadal scale morphological change
DOI 10.1142/9789811275135_0004
Authors Ann E. Gibbs, Li H. Erikson, Anna I Hamilton
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70242890
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center