Coastal Erosion of Permafrost Soils Along the Yukon Coastal Plain and Fluxes of Organic Carbon to the Canadian Beaufort Sea

Michael.Fritz [ at ]


Reducing uncertainties about carbon cycling is important in the Arctic where rapid environmental changes contribute to enhanced mobilization of carbon. Here we quantify soil organic carbon (SOC) contents of permafrost soils along the Yukon Coastal Plain and determine the annual fluxes from coastal erosion. Different terrain units were assessed based on surficial geology, morphology, and ground ice conditions. To account for the volume of wedge ice and massive ice in a unit, SOC contents were reduced by 19% and sediment contents by 16%. The SOC content in a 1 m² column of soil varied according to the height of the bluff, ranging from 30 to 662 kg, with a mean value of 183 kg. Forty‐four per cent of the SOC was within the top 1 m of soil and values varied based on surficial materials, ranging from 30 to 53 kg C/m³, with a mean of 41 kg. Eighty per cent of the shoreline was erosive with a mean annual rate of change of −0.7 m/yr. This resulted in a SOC flux per meter of shoreline of 132 kg C/m/yr, and a total flux for the entire 282 km of the Yukon coast of 35.5 × 10^6 kg C/yr (0.036 Tg C/yr). The mean flux of sediment per meter of shoreline was 5.3 × 103 kg/m/yr, with a total flux of 1,832 × 10^6 kg/yr (1.832 Tg/yr). Sedimentation rates indicate that approximately 13% of the eroded carbon was sequestered in nearshore sediments, where the overwhelming majority of organic carbon was of terrestrial origin.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.1002/2017JG004166

Cite as
Couture, N. J. , Irrgang, A. , Pollard, W. H. , Lantuit, H. and Fritz, M. (2018): Coastal Erosion of Permafrost Soils Along the Yukon Coastal Plain and Fluxes of Organic Carbon to the Canadian Beaufort Sea , Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, 123 (2), pp. 406-422 . doi: 10.1002/2017JG004166

[thumbnail of Couture_et_al_2018_Coastal_erosion_of_permafrost_soils_along_the_YCP_and_fluxes_of_OC_to_the_Canadian_Beaufort_Sea.pdf]

Download (1MB) | Preview

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item