Animation depicting seasonal cycles on Alaska's Arctic bluffs
In the spring, winter sea ice thaws and moves offshore leaving the coast exposed to increased wave action and relatively warm water temperatures that, when in contact with the bluff, erodes the toe of the bluff. Additionally, warm air temperatures during the spring and summer months thaw the upper layers of permafrost causing erosion or sloughing of the bluff face above the water line. In the fall, air temperatures begin to decrease again, but wave action and contact with the bluff continues; upper layers of the bluffs often topple over and erode in large chunks at this time. In late fall and early winter, sea ice reforms, once again protecting the coast from wave action. Learn more about this project here.