Melting Away: Global Warming Causing Coastal Erosion

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many words is a video worth? In footage captured of the Alaskan coast, we see the effects of the climate crisis over a 9 year period unfold during the 59 second time lapse. As the coast continues to erode, habitat loss threatens those who live nearby. This video shows how seriously climate change is impacting our world and without prevention, things can only get worse.

From 2007 to 2016, the University of Alaska studied Drew Point, located on the Northern side of the state. They filmed the erosion of the shoreline using a satellite and watched as an average 56 feet of coastline was washed away each year. From 1955 to 1975, the same coastline only lost 23 feet per year showing that erosion has over doubled in the last 50 years. If looking at the entirety of the 5 1/2 mile coast found at Drew Point, that would be a total of 30 football fields annually eroding, decreasing the size of the land mass. Over the course of the study from 2007 to 2016, an amount of land equal to 300 football fields was eroded.

Global warming is a contributing factor of erosion. As the earth grows warmer, icebergs have melted which transforms our oceans. Now, with less icebergs to lessen the momentum of the waves as they hit the shore, erosion is exponentially growing. The ground is a mixture of ice and soil which are both impacted by these waves in two ways. The force of the waves not only loosens the soil, but the water warms the temperature of the ground which causes the ice in the soil to melt. This now softened earth erodes much more easily and is chipped away.

As land sinks into the ocean, day by day we lose more and more habitat. People are being forced to move away from coastal areas they have lived in their whole lives as the waves crash closer and closer to their homes. As people are forced to move, animals will be too. Immigration of animals to different areas can cause food shortages and therefore starvation or overpopulate an area and impact other species.

Several of the effects of global warming cannot be seen on such a large scale, but when shown in this way, it would be hard to ignore what is happening to our planet. This video is a way to show people what is happening and how quickly it is affecting the environment. Seeing such a negative chain of events unfolding can make your feel helpless, but by using your voice to vote and to lobby or call your representatives about issues like these can start a new, positive chain of events to protect our planet.

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