Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 25, Issue 2–3, pp 69–80 | Cite as

Classification of the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast and estimation of carbon and sediment inputs from coastal erosion

  • M. T. JorgensonEmail author
  • J. Brown


A regional classification of shoreline segments along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast was developed as the basis for quantifying coastal morphology, lithology, and carbon and mineral sediment fluxes. We delineated 48 mainland segments totaling 1,957 km, as well as 1,334 km of spits and islands. Mainland coasts were grouped into five broad classes: exposed bluffs (313 km), bays and inlets (235 km), lagoons with barrier islands (546 km), tapped basins (171 km) and deltas (691 km). Sediments are mostly silts and sands, with occasional gravel, and bank heights generally are low (2–4 m), especially for deltas (<1 m). Mean annual erosion rates (MAER) by coastline type vary from 0.7 m/year (maximum 10.4 m/year) for lagoons to 2.4 m/year for exposed bluffs (maximum 16.7 m/year). MAERs are much higher in silty soils (3.2 m/year) than in sandy (1.2 m/year) to gravelly (−0.3 m/year) soils. Soil organic carbon along eroding shorelines (deltas excluded) range from 12 to 153 kg/m2 of bank surface down to the water line. We assume carbon flux out from depositional delta sediments is negligible. Across the entire Alaskan Beaufort Sea Coast, estimated annual carbon input from eroding shorelines ranges from –47 to 818 Mg/km/year (Metric tones/km/year) across the 48 segments, average 149 Mg/km/year (for 34 nondeltaic segments), and total 1.8×105 Mg/year. Annual mineral input from eroding shorelines ranges from −1,863 (accreting) to 15,752 Mg/km/year, average 2,743 Mg/km/year, and totals 3.3 ×106 Mg/year.


Soil Organic Carbon Erosion Rate Particulate Organic Carbon Coastal Erosion Barrier Island 
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The following individuals collaborated in the investigations: Orson Smith and William Lee University of Alaska Anchorage; Craig Tweedie, Michigan State University; and James Bockheim, University of Wisconsin for the Barrow area. Janet C. Jorgenson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Chien-Lu Ping and Yuri Shur, University of Alaska Fairbanks; Jennifer Harden; U.S. Geological Survey for the Beaufort sites. Matt Macander, ABR, Inc. assisted on photogrammetric analyses and GIS analyses. The Fish and Wildlife Service provided financial and logistical support at Beaufort Lagoon. Some of the soil data was provided by projects funded by ConocoPhillips, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska. The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium under several cooperative agreements with the National Science Foundation provided support at Barrow through the able assistance of Dave Ramey and Matt Irinaga. The U.S. Minerals Management Service, Anchorage, provided the ESI segmentation information. We appreciated the helpful reviews by Sathy Naidu and H. J. Walker.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ABR, Inc.FairbanksUSA
  2. 2.International Permafrost AssociationWood HoleUSA

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