Collaborative Research on the Flux and Transformation of Organic Carbon across the Eroding Coastline of Northern Alaska

Collaborative Research on the Flux and Transformation of Organic Carbon across the Eroding Coastline of Northern Alaska

ABR conducted a collaborative research project to evaluate the effects of an eroding arctic coastline on carbon dynamics in arctic systems. Although crude estimates of the flux of organic carbon (OC) across the eroding coastline of northern Alaska have been developed, little is known about the transformation of terrestrial OC as it crosses the land/ocean interface.  The research project had four main components: (1) characterize the nature and abundance of soil OC and ground ice in relation to geomorphic environments; (2) estimate the total OC flux along the entire coast and develop empirical models to assess the vulnerability of the coast to increased erosion resulting from decreasing summer sea-ice; (3) determine the biogeochemical transformation and bioavailability of OC associated with various dissolved and particulate forms across the land/sea interface through field study and laboratory experimentation; and (4) integrate our results to the pan-arctic scale through international collaboration. The study involved extensive sampling at 50 sites along the entire Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast to develop precise estimates of erosion and OC flux. Intensive sampling at three primary sites along dominant coastline types was conducted to evaluate the transformation of the eroded OC.  Also, three secondary sites were added to broaden the monitoring to other coastline types and to involve local communities in assessing coastal changes. 2004-2007.

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