Establishing erosion monitoring sites, increasing coastal science literacy, and training citizen-scientists improves a community’s ability to effectively plan, engage, and respond to coastal hazards. Through a collaborative research effort between UAF, the State of Alaska’s Coastal Hazard Program, the Bristol Bay Native Association, and multiple other regional and local partners, over 15 riverine and coastal villages of western Alaska established shoreline change and water level monitoring stations. A close-working relationship with local and regional stakeholders guide research commitments, which lead to the development of high resolution baseline topographic data sets and train local coordinators in the maintenance of sites and collection of repeated topographic measurements. This is how we produce workflows and data such as interactive digital maps.
Today, storm-driven flooding and eroding coastlines poses one of the greatest threats to the communities and natural resources along Alaska coastlines. The lack of data in regards to the long-term frequency and the return interval of major storms limits our ability to understand their impacts at the spatiotemporal scales necessary to assess risk. Paleo-proxy storm reconstructions and paleotempestology, the study of prehistoric storms based on multiple proxies, address this lack of data. Previous studies show that sediment archives of past storm events preserve in some coastal environments as inorganic coarse-grained horizons between finer organic sediments. We develop storm chronologies from as far south as the Bahamas to as far north as Alaska.
A variety of geospatial and remote sensing tools document and monitor the rapid environmental changes currently occurring in the Arctic. Many shorelines of the circumpolar north lack the baseline topographic data and lack the understanding of long-term historical changes. Structure-from-motion (SfM) software and aerial imagery allow the development of low-cost, high-accuracy photographs and elevation datasets. GIS-based shoreline change analysis uses the USGS Digital Shoreline Analysis System (DSAS) to help calculate historical shoreline trends and identify areas of erosion and accretion.