Arctic climate warming leads to increased storm surge activity



Recent declining summer sea ice extent over the Arctic Ocean, a climatic shift driven by rising air temperatures, is causing surface winds to have increased contact with the ocean waters, in turn increasing the size of surface waves. Researchers also anticipate that ongoing climate change will increase the strength and frequency of Arctic summer and fall storms. Together, these climatic shifts are expected to lead to an increase in both the frequency and size of storm surges, flooding events that can dramatically affect Arctic coastal regions. In 1999, for instance, a strong storm surge covered more than 12,000 hectares of the Mackenzie Delta landscape in seawater, killing local vegetation and disrupting the freshwater ecosystems. This particular storm surge is an event from which much of this northern ecosystem has yet to recover.