The fate of arctic permafrost coasts: Increasing threats and expected impacts

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Lantuit, H. (2008): The fate of arctic permafrost coasts: Increasing threats and expected impacts , Tough Choices - Land Use under a Changing Climate, DFG-BMBF- NSF conference on climate change, 2-3 October 2008, Berlin, Germany. .
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There is no question that the Arctic is particularly affected by climate change as was shown not only in IPCCs recent 4th Assessment Report, but also specified in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA) and Arctic Human Development Report (AHDR) as well as in the Science Plans of the Second International Conference of Arctic Research Planning (ICARP II). Of particular interest is the response of geophysical and ecosystem features in the Arctic coastal zone to effects of global warming, i.e., the decreasing sea ice cover, the destabilization of permafrost systems and increased exposure of the coast to storms. Embedded in a coupled socio-ecological context are issues of societal response to these changes. This includes both adaptation to changing living conditions bearing threats and options for human welfare as well as new forms of land and sea use such as enhanced access to and exploitation of resources, or increasing ship traffic.Despite heightened media coverage and imminent changes to the coastal zone environment in the Arctic, little is known about the actual evolution of the shoreline and related socio-economical and ecological impacts. This paper provides a rapid overview of the current knowledge on arctic coastal dynamics and the gaps that new programs initiated during the IPY are attempting to fill.

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