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Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center

Climate Change Impacts to the U.S. Pacific and Arctic Coasts: Research

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Time-lapse photography of Barter Island in Alaska

Time-lapse photography of Barter Island in Alaska during three summer months in 2014 showing the pack ice melting and subsequent impact to the beach and cliffs from storms.

Time-lapse video transcript
Time-lapse camera looks due east on Barter Island from June 2014 to September 2014. This camera sat on a fallen snow fence to capture storm events during the summer.
As the ice pack starts to melt near the shoreline, the beach is no longer protected from storm waves. Normally the wind- and wave-driven currents run east to west (toward the camera), but during a westerly storm, the imagery shows wave-driven currents and floating driftwood moving from west to east, which is how sand is transported along the beach. You can also see that as more storms hit the coast, ice is not present to buffer them, and the waves eat away at the base of the bluffs. In three instances you can see sections of the cliff slump as it thaws. In fact, the camera taking this imagery starts to tilt as the ground beneath it begins to slump. Overall, many environmental elements can cause erosion along the northern coast of Alaska.

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U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: https://walrus.wr.usgs.gov/climate-change/time-lapse.html
Page Contact Information: Laura Zink Torresan
Page Last Modified: 14 June 2016 (lzt)