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An august 2018 storm washed away four more metres of land in Tuktoyaktuk now threatening a number houses on The Point. (courtesy Dustin Whalen Natural Resources Canada)

The not so slowly disappearing Arctic shores

One of the most northerly communities in the world, Tuktoyaktuk in Canada’s Northwest Territories, is fighting a losing battle against climate change. Several homes in Tuktoyaktuk are now threatened on an area known as The Point. One community building has already been washed away, and a couple of others have had to be moved inland.

As far back as 2003, the erosion of coastline was worrying residents  and a study predicted the rate of erosion, a rate which has already matched those predictions.

A 2003 study of predicted erosion along “the Point” at Tuk shows that about ten years later several houses would be threatened by the sea, something that has since indeed happened. (K Johnson et al)

Compounding the problem of erosion from the sea, is the melting of the permafrost which held the soil together. The permafrost melts and the softened muddy soil “slumps” down into the sea where it is washed away.

At this time last year, Dustin Whalen of Natural Resources Canada said it’s sometimes not even a slow erosion estimating that in places along the coast and nearby islands 30-40 metres of shore can be lost each year. “When you go to Canadian Arctic, in particular the Beaufort Sea, we see changes in a summer, in a month, sometimes even in a day, during coastal storms”.

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