Observations on permafrost coasts were included in NOAA’s 2020 Arctic Report Card for the first time in the 15 year history of the annual publication. The Coastal Permafrost Erosion essay involved contributions from 24 authors located in 8 different countries, with half of the authors being an early career researcher. Key highlights of the essay include observations documenting an increase in erosion of permafrost coasts in the Arctic since the early 2000s, coinciding with warming temperatures, sea ice reduction, and permafrost thaw. Coasts along the US and Canadian Beaufort Sea experienced the largest increase in erosion rates in the Arctic, ranging from +80 to +160%, when comparing average rates from the last two decades of the 20th century with the first two decades of the 21st century. The initiation of several national and international research networks in recent years has enabled closer coordination and collaboration of measurements and a better understanding of pan-Arctic permafrost coastal dynamics. The formation of interdisciplinary research teams and increasing collaboration across knowledge systems, such as Western science and Indigenous knowledge, has increased the scope and breadth of studies being conducted along permafrost coasts as well as their societal relevance. Combined, these developments show great promise for understanding future changes in coastal permafrost dynamics and the potential impact on both the natural and built environments.
New European Space Agency Project Focused on Earth Observations for Permafrost-Dominated Arctic Coasts
Earth Observation for Permafrost dominated Arctic Coasts (EO4PAC) is a new effort funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) Polar Science Cluster to develop the next generation of the Arctic Coastal Dynamics database, a geospatial product on Arctic coastal erosion initially released in 2012. The focus of the two-year project is on complementation of in situ records with satellite data across the entire Arctic.