Soil carbon and material fluxes across the eroding Alaska Beaufort Sea coastline Academic Article uri icon


  • Carbon, nitrogen, and material fluxes were quantified at 48 sampling locations along the 1957 km coastline of the Beaufort Sea, Alaska. Landform characteristics, soil stratigraphy, cryogenic features, and ice contents were determined for each site. Erosion rates for the sites were quantified using satellite images and aerial photos, and the rates averaged across the coastline increased from 0.6 m yr-1 during circa 1950-1980 to 1.2 m yr -1 during circa 1980-2000. Soils were highly cryoturbated, and organic carbon (OC) stores ranged from 13 to 162 kg OC m-2 in banks above sea level and averaged 63 kg OC m-2 over the entire coastline. Long-term (1950-2000) annual lateral fluxes due to erosion were estimated at -153 Gg OC, -7762 Mg total nitrogen, -2106 Tg solids, and -2762 Tg water. Total land area loss along the Alaska Beaufort Sea coastline was estimated at 203 ha yr-1. We found coastal erosion rates, bank heights, soil properties, and material stores and fluxes to be extremely variable among sampling sites. In comparing two classification systems used to classifying coastline types from an oceanographic, coastal morphology perspective and geomorphic units from a terrestrial, soils perspective, we found both systems were effective at differentiating significant differences among classes for most material stores, but the coastline classification did not find significant differences in erosion rates because it lacked differentiation of soil texture. Copyright 2011 by the American Geophysical Union.

published proceedings

  • Journal of Geophysical Research

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Ping, C., Michaelson, G. J., Guo, L., Jorgenson, M. T., Kanevskiy, M., Shur, Y., Dou, F., & Liang, J.

citation count

  • 85

complete list of authors

  • Ping, Chienā€Lu||Michaelson, Gary J||Guo, Laodong||Jorgenson, M Torre||Kanevskiy, Mikhail||Shur, Yuri||Dou, Fugen||Liang, Jingjing

publication date

  • June 2011