85th AMS Annual Meeting

Thursday, 13 January 2005: 1:30 PM
Climatic processes affecting arctic coastal environments: a review (Invited Presentation)
Roger G. Barry, CIRES/Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO; and M. C. Serreze
There is a wide range of Arctic coastal environments. Types of coasts include lowlands, some with major estuaries and deltas, rocky cliffs with deep fiords, cliffed ice-rich sediments, and floating ice tongues with iceberg calving. The offshore shelf may be narrow or broad and shallow and the coast may have limited or extensive landfast ice, offshore polynyas and pack ice incursions. These different environments play a major role in determining what climatic processes are of local and regional significance in terms of air-ice-ocean-land interactions.

The climatic processes that affect different locales are determined first by the large-scale controls of the atmospheric circulation, and secondly by regional and local influences of topography, snow cover, and sea ice conditions interacting with the atmosphere. Strong temperature contrasts in summer along the Eurasian and Alaskan coasts (the summer Arctic frontal zone) have pronounced impacts on synoptic development and regional precipitation.

This review examines selected coastal environments and relevant climatic processes that operate there. Examples are drawn from: coastal Alaska and Siberia, Greenland, the Canadian Arctic Archipelago and Svalbard. Examples of interactions include storm frequency, wave action and coastal retreat, basin scale spring warming and river ice breakup leading to delta flooding over landfast ice, and basin runoff affecting oceanic freshwater input. The possible consequences of recent and projected climate trends, and their implications, are also discussed.

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