Resources for Coastal Hazard Education

Organized by the coastal hazards faced by many Alaska communities

These resources help support increased understanding and readiness to respond to the hazards that might occur. Also included are:

  • Background information about each type of hazard
  • Lesson plans
  • Environmental monitoring protocols
  • Logical sequences for teaching

Changing weather patterns

As the climate changes, we are seeing changes on the shorter term—weather patterns are changing seasonally. Oceans are warming and storms are becoming more severe.


Coastal erosion

Thawing permafrost, intensifying storms, rising sea levels, and reductions in shorefast sea ice are combining to wear away large sections of Alaska’s coast. Arctic western Alaska has become known worldwide for the impacts of coastal climate change.

Harmful algal bloom washes ashore on an Alaska beach. (Photo: The Cordova Times)

Harmful algal blooms (HABs)

Some algae produce toxins and can reproduce rapidly to high concentrations. When filter feeders such as clams eat these algae, they accumulate toxins, which pass up the food chain to other animals, including humans, causing illness and sometimes death.

Kristen Kelly clears derelict fishing net from a reef.(Photo: NOAA Fisheries/Steven Gnam)

Marine debris

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration defines marine debris as “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned in the marine environment or Great Lakes.” Simply put, it's trash in the water.

Lowering the pH of seawater affects the ability of shell-building organisms to build and maintain their shells. (Photo: Russ Hopcroft/Alaska Ocean Observing System)

Ocean acidification

Ocean acidification (OA) is the long-term lowering of average global ocean pH. The current rate of change of OA is faster than at any time on record. Lowering the pH of seawater affects the ability of shell-building organisms—such as the pteropod above—to create and maintain their shells.