Long-term ice-rich permafrost coast sensitivity to air temperatures and storm influence: lessons from Pullen Island, Northwest Territories, Canada

H. Bay Berry*, Dustin Whalen, Michael Lim

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Response of erosive mechanisms to climate change is of mounting concern on Beaufort Sea coasts, which experience some of the highest erosion rates in the Arctic. Collapse of intact permafrost blocks and slumping within sprawling retrogressive thaw complexes are two predominant mechanisms that manifest as cliff retreat in this region. Using aerial imagery and ground survey data from Pullen Island, Northwest Territories., Canada, from 13 time points between 1947 and 2018, we observe increasing mean retreat rates from 0 ± 4.8 m a−1 in 1947 to 12 ± 0.3 m a−1 in 2018. Mean summer air temperature was positively correlated with cliff retreat over each time step via block failure (r2 = 0.08; p = 0.5) and slumping (r2 = 0.41; p = 0.05), as was mean storm duration with cliff retreat via block failure (r2 = 0.84; p = 0.0002) and slumping (r2 = 0.34; p = 0.08). These data indicate that air temperature has a greater impact in slump-dominated areas, whereas storm duration has greater control in areas of block failure. Increasingly, heterogeneous cliff retreat rates are likely resulting from different magnitudes of response to climate trends depending on mechanism, and on geomorphological variations that prescribe occurrences of retrogressive thaw slumps.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalArctic Science
Early online date29 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Jan 2021

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