Drew Point, Smith Bay

The main mechanisms for coastal erosion in the Arctic are the melting of permafrost, and the increased wave attack caused by more frequent and intense storms. Permafrost is a combination of ice, frozen soil, rock, and organic materials, and most permafrost at high latitudes is many thousands of years old. In some places permafrost can be over 650 m thick (~2,000 ft). The ice wedges shown in the image are a type of ground ice that produces recognizable patterns called tundra polygons. Permafrost absorbs the impact of ocean waves and protects against coastal erosion. Sea ice helps too, by blocking waves from reaching the shore. That buffer zone is now disappearing, and without it coastal erosion is accelerating and threatens critical infrastructure – including oil and gas pipelines. Read more here and here. Click here to download the CoastView app and explore the shoreline of Drew Point and Smith Bay in the Beaufort Sea.