Recently, an international team of researchers, led by the University of Edinburgh, flew drone-mounted cameras over a section of permafrost coastline on Herschel Island, also known as Qikiqtaruk, off the Yukon coast in the Canadian Arctic. What they discovered is enough to send chills down one’s spine.
In 40 days over the summer, the coast had retreated by 14.5 meters, sometimes more than a meter a day.
It is a known fact that the Arctic is the most rapidly warming region on our planet. As a resulting of rapidly melting permafrost due to warming temperatures, coastal erosion is becoming more frequent along the Arctic coastline. This results in large amounts sediment, organic matter, and nutrients from permafrost getting released into the coastal waters, thereby impacting nearby marine ecosystems and quickly transforming landscapes in the Arctic.
This startling loss of land happens, the authors explain, as a warming climate leads to longer summer seasons. The University notes, “Sea ice melts earlier and reforms later in the year than before, exposing the coastline and presenting more opportunities for storms to cause damage.”