5.8
Coastal erosion impacts on Arctic settlements

Did you know?
Most arctic villages are located close to a coast or a river bank. Those built on rock are safe from coastal erosion. However, those built on permafrost soils are vulnerable to climate change.
Uummannaq, a village on rock in West Greenland | Terry Callaghan
Barrow Alaska, a village experiencing permafrost thaw and coastal erosion | Patrick J Endres AlaskaPhotoGraphics
Decreasing sea ice results in more coastal erosion.
Decreasing sea ice results in more coastal erosion.
As sea level rises coastal erosion will increase.

Fascinating Facts!
Did you know that a whole island disappeared 60 years ago because of erosion and permafrost thaw. Other islands are shrinking with the coast receding many meters per year.
wikipedia.org

Get Active!
Arctic Ice & Coastal Erosion
You will need:
1a
Do waves cause coastal erosion in Arctic ice environments?
Instructions
Fill two glasses ¾ of the way with the same amount of water, at the same temperature. Use the thermometer to check they're the same temperature.
Add one ice cube to each glass of water — these are acting as frozen ground and sea ice on the Arctic coast. When you add the ice cube, start the timer.
In one glass, stir the ice cube around until it melts — this represents the wind causing waves which erode the ice. When the ice cube melts, record the time in the boxes below and continue the timer until the other ice cube melts - then record that time.
Which ice cube melted the fastest?
Want to speed up the process? What happens when you use hotter water, or colder water?
1b
Does wind cause coastal erosion in Arctic ice environments?
Instructions
Fill two glasses ¾ of the way with the same amount of water, at the same temperature. Use the thermometer to check they're the same temperature.
Add one ice cube to each glass of water — these are acting as frozen ground and sea ice on the Arctic coast. When you add the ice cube, start the timer.
In one glass, blow on the ice cube until it melts — this represents the wind that erodes the ice. When the ice cube melts, record the time in the boxes below and continue the timer until the other ice cube melts — then record that time.
Which ice cube melted the fastest?
Want to speed up the process? What happens when you use hotter water, or colder water?
How does wind melt ice faster?
Ice takes away heat around it, if there is no wind the air around the ice stays cold – acting like a barrier for the ice causing the ice cube to melt more slowly. When there is wind, the summer wind is warmer than the ice cube. The wind then becomes a new and constant movement of warm air hitting the ice cube, causing it to melt much faster. Within the water, the same rule applies where water breaks down the cold water barrier around the ice cube. However, friction also has a part to play. Friction is caused when two surfaces slide across each other – similar to when you rub your hands together, they get hot! The same happens when ice collides with water and a small amount of heat is produced impacting the rate of melt of the ice cube. Also, there is physical erosion of ice and water on the land, for example scouring.
What does climate change do to impact erosion?
Erosion is defined as the process by which the surface of the Earth is worn away by the action of water, glaciers, winds, waves and more. Climate change causes the oceans to get warmer. As the sea warms, ice melts and causes more wave action because the wind can get access to the sea water rather than blow along the ice surface. Another cause of climate change is a rise in more unpredictable weather such as storms. With increasing amounts of waves from storms and melting ice, particularly that protecting the coast, physical erosion will also get worse, causing even more ice to melt and the coast line to be worn away. When permafrost thaws along the coast line, the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane are released from the soil. These make global warming worse, accelerating the harmful cycle with the sea warming more and increased coastal erosion.
Ice is essential!
Ice is important as it reflects sunlight back into space to cool the Earth.
For animals, ice acts as a place to rest, birthing grounds and protection from predators such as the killer whale. Animals that highly depend on ice include polar bears, seals, walruses and even phytoplankton!
For humans, it acts as a way to hunt animals for food and clothing and even to establish floating research stations.