Arctic coastal hazard assessment considering permafrost thaw subsidence, coastal erosion, and flooding

Ziyi Wang, Ming Xiao, Dmitry Nicolsky, Vladimir Romanovsky, Christopher McComb, Louise Farquharson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

The thawing of permafrost in the Arctic has led to an increase in coastal land loss, flooding, and ground subsidence, seriously threatening civil infrastructure and coastal communities. However, a lack of tools for synthetic hazard assessment of the Arctic coast has hindered effective response measures. We developed a holistic framework, the Arctic Coastal Hazard Index (ACHI), to assess the vulnerability of Arctic coasts to permafrost thawing, coastal erosion, and coastal flooding. We quantified the coastal permafrost thaw potential (PTP) through regional assessment of thaw subsidence using ground settlement index. The calculations of the ground settlement index involve utilizing projections of permafrost conditions, including future regional mean annual ground temperature, active layer thickness, and talik thickness. The predicted thaw subsidence was validated through a comparison with observed long-term subsidence data. The ACHI incorporates the PTP into seven physical and ecological variables for coastal hazard assessment: shoreline type, habitat, relief, wind exposure, wave exposure, surge potential, and sea-level rise. The coastal hazard assessment was conducted for each 1 km2 coastline of North Slope Borough, Alaska in the 2060s under the Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 and 8.5 forcing scenarios. The areas that are prone to coastal hazards were identified by mapping the distribution pattern of the ACHI. The calculated coastal hazards potential was subjected to validation by comparing it with the observed and historical long-term coastal erosion mean rates. This framework for Arctic coastal assessment may assist policy and decision-making for adaptation, mitigation strategies, and civil infrastructure planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104003
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume18
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Environmental Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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