85th AMS Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 12 January 2005: 8:45 AM
An integrated assessment of the impacts of extreme events on the coastal zone in a small Alaskan community
Amanda H. Lynch, Monash University, Clayton, Vic, Australia; and R. D. Brunner
Poster PDF (504.2 kB)
The city of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States, is situated on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. For the last two decades, the people of Barrow have been striving to reduce their vulnerability to coastal erosion and flooding arising from extreme cyclones. The motivating problem was the loss of cultural artifacts to the storms of September 12 and 20, 1986 that first exposed artifacts, including the remains of ancestors, and then washed them out to sea. The longer-term concern is that global warming will increase Barrow's vulnerabilities and damages in the future.

Our work has focused on an effort expand the range of informed options open to the people of Barrow to address this problem. To this end, we have compiled what is known by residents and scientists about trends and processes in atmospheric circulation, sea ice, erosion, flooding, and other factors affecting Barrow over the past half century. We have worked to understand how these trends and processes interact in the series of big storms to date. While much uncertainty remains, it is nevertheless reasonable in our view for Barrow to act on a variety of policy alternatives to reduce its vulnerabilities, provided arrangements are made to learn from each big storm and adjust future policies accordingly. The policy decisions will, of course, be made by the Barrow community on the basis their values and knowledge, taking into account whatever outside advice they deem appropriate.

Supplementary URL: http://nome.colorado.edu/HARC