Coastal erosion is the gradual loss of land and sediment along coastlines, a phenomenon prevalent in the Arctic due to a mix of thermal and mechanical drivers.

Permafrost thaw and ground-ice melt contribute to soil instability (soil decohesion and slumping), while ocean waves mechanically erode the coast. This erosion is driven by waves, currents, tides, wind-driven water, waterborne ice, and the impacts of storms.

Main Factors

Coastal erosion results from various forces including wave action, currents, tides, wind-driven water, and ice impact during storms. These forces cause different erosion processes:

Hydraulic action: Waves compress air in cliff cracks, enlarging them over time and leading to cave formation.

Attrition: Loose rock debris collides, grinding and chipping, gradually becoming smaller and rounder.

Solution: Acids in seawater dissolve certain rock types like chalk or limestone.

Abrasion: Waves break on cliff faces, slowly wearing them down and using debris to further erode the rock.

Corrosion or chemical weathering: Sea water's pH corrodes rock, particularly affecting limestone cliff faces. Wave action accelerates the process by removing corroded material.

How to prevent

Preventing coastal erosion requires a mixture of natural, structural, and management strategies, often combined for maximum effectiveness.

Natural Vegetation: Planting coastal vegetation stabilizes soil and absorbs wave energy.

Beach Nourishment: Adding sand widens beaches and buffers against erosion.

Structural Measures: Seawalls, groynes, revetments, and breakwaters provide physical barriers against waves.

Living Shorelines: Natural elements like vegetation and reefs stabilize shores and provide habitat.

Sand Dunes: Building or restoring dunes absorbs wave energy and reduces erosion.

Regulatory Measures: Zoning regulations limit development in erosion-prone areas.

Offshore Structures: Reefs and breakwaters dissipate wave energy before it reaches the shore.


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