Monday, April 18, 2011

Climate change is melting Arctic coastlines by 30 metres each year, scientists claim - 18th Apr 2011

Arctic coastlines are crumbling away and retreating at the rate of up to 30 metres a year due to the effects of climate change, it was claimed today.

The rapid rate of coastal erosion poses a major threat to local communities and ecosystems, according to a new report by more than 30 scientists from ten countries.

Two-thirds of Arctic coasts consist of frozen soil - or permafrost - rather than rock, and are highly sensitive to erosion by wind and waves.

Rising temperatures are melting protective sea ice fringing the coastlines and leaving them more exposed to the elements, the researchers claimed.

According to the report, State Of The Arctic Coast 2010, ten-year average rates of coastal retreat are 'typically in the one to two metres per year range, but vary up to ten to 30 metres per year in some locations'.

Worst-hit areas include the Beaufort Sea, the East Siberian Sea and the Laptev Sea, the said.

The study, led by scientists from the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC), is published online and in the journal Estuaries and Coasts.

Information on more than 100,000kms of Arctic coastline - around a quarter of the total - was collected for the report. Read More