Profound Changes in Alaska's Coastline "Our Homes, Our Way of Life"

Coastlines provide Alaska’s most life-filled environments. From shallow near shore waters, to tidelands, beaches, bluffs, bays, lagoons, estuaries and deltas, this thin slice of Alaska supports a disproportionately large share of our state’s fish and wildlife as well as most of our communities. These fantastically rich coastal environments – the place where the land meets the ocean – are particularly vulnerable to climate change.

“Most of our communities are based on the edge of highly productive estuaries – and they’re really changing” (Nome)

“Historic and archaeological sites are being eroded; barrier islands and spits are being eroded” (Unalaska)

“We’re seeing more deaths every year as people risk travel for food and fall through the ice” (Nome)

“For the first time ever we have beavers, and they’re polluting our village water supply” (Kotzebue)

Melting Sea Ice

“If I can’t hunt for walrus, I lose the heart of what I teach my grandchildren” (Nome)

What’s Changing? The shift in temperatures from mostly below to often above freezing is driving dramatic changes in sea ice.

SHRINKING LAKES, DRYING WETLANDS

“The tundra is so dry – now it crunches when you walk” (Kotzebue)

What’s Changing? Estuary and lagoon productivity is being disrupted by rising sea waters, storm surge, new vegetation, and freshwater flows.

COMMUNITY LIFE AT THE MELTING EDGE OF CLIMATE CHANGE

“Shishmaref is our home, it’s where our heart is”  (Shishmaref)

What’s Changing?  Shishmaref is one of many Alaska coastal villages hit by a climate change quadruple threat: thawing permafrost; intensifying storms; rising sea levels, and less shorefast sea ice to buffer shorelines from storm waves.

CHANGING RIVERS, COASTAL LAGOONS, & ESTUARIES

“Lagoons, coastal rivers are incredibly rich and productive – and they’re being hammered by climate change” (Kotzebue)

What’s Changing? Estuary and lagoon productivity is being disrupted by rising sea waters, storm surge, new vegetation, and freshwater flows.

ROCK ISLANDS

“Animals are migrating different and we need to change the hunting seasons and practices so that we can get our fish and game” (King Salmon)

What’s Changing? Coastal erosion is not only a problem in low lying communities underlain by permafrost, like Shishmaref or Shaktoolik.

RISING WATERS & FLOODING COASTLINES: WE NEED BETTER DATA!

“There are more tidal data stations in Chesapeake Bay than all of Alaska” (King Salmon)

What’s Changing? As glaciers melt and warmer marine waters expand, ocean levels are projected to rise 1-3 feet by 2100.

This project was a collaborative effort of many partners, led by Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Inc and the Aleutian Bering Sea Islands and Western AK Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, working with Agnew::Beck Inc. and the U. of Washington Center for Environmental Visualization. Funding was provided by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. To get involved, citations or more information, see AdaptAlaska.org. Thanks to the over  200 people who contributed to these posters!         Sept 2017

VISUALIZE CHANGE

Changes in Alaska's Coastline