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Coastal Change in Alaska

January 4, 2021

Coastal erosion occurs across the globe, but the presence of permafrost and seasonal ice makes the coastal erosion on Alaska's north coast unique.

On Alaska's north coast, the ground and sea have historically been frozen for much of the year, making coastlines strong and resistant to erosion.

However, when the frozen ground (or permafrost) thaws, the coast can change quickly. Waves, warm water, and the sun all play a role in coastal change on Alaska's north coast. Water can thaw the permafrost from below, the sun can thaw the permafrost from above, and waves can physically erode the permafrost.

Explore our geonarrative to learn more.