Arctic climate warming and sea ice declines lead to increased storm surge activity

Authors

  • Jesse C. Vermaire,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    • Corresponding author: John P. Smol, Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab, Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. (SMOLJ@QueensU.ca)

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  • Michael F. J. Pisaric,

    1. Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    2. Department of Geography, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
    Current affiliation:
    1. Department of Geography, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
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  • Joshua R. Thienpont,

    1. Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab, Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
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  • Colin J. Courtney Mustaphi,

    1. Ottawa-Carleton Geoscience Centre, Department of Earth Sciences, Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
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  • Steven V. Kokelj,

    1. Renewable Resources and Environment, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, NWT Geoscience Office, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
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  • John P. Smol

    1. Paleoecological Environmental Assessment and Research Lab, Department of Biology, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
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Abstract

[1] The combined effects of climate warming (i.e., increased storminess, reduced sea ice extent, and rising sea levels) make low-lying Arctic coastal regions particularly susceptible to storm surges. The Mackenzie Delta, a biologically significant and resource-rich region in northwestern Canada, is particularly vulnerable to flooding by storm surges. To properly manage the consequences of climate warming for Arctic residents, infrastructure, and ecosystems, a better understanding of the influence of climate change on storm surge activity is required. Here we use particle size analysis of lake sediment records to show that the occurrence and magnitude of storm surges in the outer Mackenzie Delta are significantly related to temperature and that the frequency and intensity of storm surges is increasing. Our results demonstrate the effects of changing climate on storm surge activity and provide a cautionary example of the threat of inundation to low-lying Arctic coastal environments under future climate warming scenarios.

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