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Changing storm conditions in response to projected 21st century climate change and the potential impact on an arctic barrier island–lagoon system—A pilot study for Arey Island and Lagoon, eastern Arctic Alaska

December 29, 2020

Executive Summary

Arey Lagoon, located in eastern Arctic Alaska, supports a highly productive ecosystem, where soft substrate and coastal wet sedge fringing the shores are feeding grounds and nurseries for a variety of marine fish and waterfowl. The lagoon is partially protected from the direct onslaught of Arctic Ocean waves by a barrier island chain (Arey Island) which in itself provides important habitat for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl. In this work, numerically modeled waves and water levels are computed under the provision of sea-level rise and changing conditions brought about by 21st century climate variability. Model results, supported by observations, are used to assess the stability of the barrier chain and spatiotemporal changes in flood patterns across fringing coastal wet sedge areas. The results aim to support studies that investigate the possibility of new biological succession trajectories and loss or increase of habitat areas.