“Three strikes and you are out? -Alaskan coast line melting”

The triple threat from global warming is hitting and literally dissolving the coast of Alaska from half way between Point Barrow, the nation’s northernmost spot, and Prudhoe Bay, site of the nation’s biggest oil fields.  If the ocean waters continue to rise and warm, they will thaw the base of frozen bluffs and destroyed natural ice barriers protecting the coast. The constant pounding of warm sea waters on the cliffs is causing large  chunks of earth to erode.  As the Arctic sea ice cover continues to decline, the Arctic air and sea temperatures will continue to rise.

The scientists studied coastline midway between Point Barrow, the nation’s northernmost spot, and Prudhoe Bay, site of the nation’s biggest oil fields. The erosion, if it continues, could ultimately be a problem for energy companies such as Exxon Mobil Corp and BP Plc (Maybe Mother Nature is reclaiming her land from the big energy giants.-editor’s note).

A study by U.S. Geological Survey scientists published in February found that erosion along a stretch of Alaska coastline during 2002 to 2007 was twice as fast as in the period from 1955 to 1979. That USGS study also found erosion occurring at a rate of 13.6 meters (44.6 feet) annually from 2002 to 2007.
The three-year study from the University of Colorado used time-lapse photography, global positioning systems, meteorological monitoring, and analysis of sediment and sea-ice distribution with photographic images snapped every six hours during the around-the-clock sunlight of summer showed the rapid rate of decline were alarming. They showed the cliffs being gouged out one large piece at a time. It looks as if a giant continues to rip out large chunks of the cliffs. The cliffs are more than half ice so warm water, stronger waves and higher wave action quickly carves these cliffs oup.

These conditions have caused 12-foot-high bluffs of frozen silt and peat containing 50 to 80 percent ice to topple into the Beaufort Sea during the summer months. Once the blocks have fallen, the coastal seawater melts them in a matter of days, sweeping the silty material out to sea.

Resources
Excerpts
courtesy of  http://www.reuters.com
Excerpts
courtesy of  http://www.physorg.com
Excerpts and Map
courtesy of  http://www.treehugger.com

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