Ice is a major agent on the inner shelf, gouging the bottom, increasing hydraulic scour, transporting sediment, and influencing river flood patterns. Rapid coastal retreat is common and low barrier islands and beaches are constantly changing due to the influence of permafrost, ice-push, waves, and currents. Coastal processes are presently a balance between the influence of ice and the action of waves and currents. Quantitative values for processes are poorly known, however our qualitative understanding is nearly complete. Climatic warming and rising sea levels would decrease the temporal and aerial extent of coastal ice thereby expanding the role of waves and currents. As a result, shoreline retreat rates would increase, producing a transgressive erosional surface on the low coastal plain. With increased wave activity, beaches and barrier islands presently nourished by ice push processes would decay and disappear. Increased sediment supply from a deeply thawed, active layer would release more sediments to rivers and coasts. Additional research should be focused on permafrost and sea ice processes active during freeze up and breakup; the two seasons of most vigorous activity and change.
Additional publication details
Effects of elevated temperatures and rising sea level on Arctic Coast