Original Paper

International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 89, Issue 3, pp 450-460

First online:

Coastal erosion vs riverine sediment discharge in the Arctic Shelf seas

  • Volker RacholdAffiliated withAlfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Research Unit Potsdam, Telegrafenberg A43, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
  • , Mikhail N. GrigorievAffiliated withPermafrost Institute, Yakutsk, RAS, 677018 Yakutsk, Russia
  • , Felix E. AreAffiliated withPetersburg State University of Means of Communications, 9 Moskovsky, 190031 St. Petersburg, Russia
  • , Steve SolomonAffiliated withGeological Survey of Canada (Atlantic), P.O. Box 1006, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada B2Y 4A
  • , Erk ReimnitzAffiliated withU.S. Geological Survey, 345 Middlefield Road, MS 999, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA
  • , Heidemarie KassensAffiliated withGeomar Research Center, Wischhofstrasse 1–3, 24148 Kiel, Germany
  • , Martin AntonowAffiliated withFreiberg Academy of Mining and Technology, Institute for Geology, Bernhard-von-Cotta-Strasse 2, 09596 Freiberg, Germany

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Abstract.

This article presents a comparison of sediment input by rivers and by coastal erosion into both the Laptev Sea and the Canadian Beaufort Sea (CBS). New data on coastal erosion in the Laptev Sea, which are based on field measurements and remote sensing information, and existing data on coastal erosion in the CBS as well as riverine sediment discharge into both the Laptev Sea and the CBS are included. Strong regional differences in the percentages of coastal erosion and riverine sediment supply are observed. The CBS is dominated by the riverine sediment discharge (64.45×106 t a–1) mainly of the Mackenzie River, which is the largest single source of sediments in the Arctic. Riverine sediment discharge into the Laptev Sea amounts to 24.10×106 t a–1, more than 70% of which are related to the Lena River. In comparison with the CBS, the Laptev Sea coast on average delivers approximately twice as much sediment mass per kilometer, a result of higher erosion rates due to higher cliffs and seasonal ice melting. In the Laptev Sea sediment input by coastal erosion (58.4×106 t a–1) is therefore more important than in the CBS and the ratio between riverine and coastal sediment input amounts to 0.4. Coastal erosion supplying 5.6×106 t a–1 is less significant for the sediment budget of the CBS where riverine sediment discharge exceeds coastal sediment input by a factor of ca. 10.

Laptev Sea Beaufort Sea Coastal erosion Fluvial sediment discharge Sediment budget