EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Where is Arctic coastal infrastructure at risk?

Annett Bartsch1, Barbara Widhalm1, Georg Pointner1, Clemens von Baeckmann1, Ingmar Nitze2, Guido Grosse2, Hugues Lantuit2, Anna Irrgang2, Julia Boike2, and Goncalo Vieira3
Annett Bartsch et al.
  • 1b.geos, Research and Development, Korneuburg, Austria (
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Centro de Estudos Geográficos, IGOT - Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal

Infrastructure and anthropogenic impacts are expanding across the Arctic. A consistent record of human impact is required in order to quantify the changes and to assess climate change impacts on the communities.
We derived a first panarctic satellite-based record of expanding infrastructure and anthropogenic impacts along all permafrost affected coasts (100 km buffer) within the H2020 project Nunataryuk based on Sentinel-1/2 satellite imagery. C-band synthetic aperture radar and multi-spectral information is combined through a machine learning framework. Depending on region, we identified up to 50% more information (human presence) than in OpenStreetMap. The combination with satellite records on vegetation change (specifically NDVI from Landsat since 2000) allowed quantification of recent expansion of infrastructure. Most of the expanded human presence occurred in Russia related predominantly to oil/gas industry.

The majority of areas with human presence in this coastal zone will be subject to thaw by mid-21st century based on ground temperature trends derived from the ESA CCI+ Permafrost time series (1997-2019). Of specific concern in this context are also settlements located directly at permafrost affected coasts. An efficient erosion rate monitoring scheme needs to be developed and combined with settlement records and permafrost information in order to assess the risk for local communities and infrastructure. Relevant progress in the framework of the ESA EO4PAC project will be discussed.

How to cite: Bartsch, A., Widhalm, B., Pointner, G., von Baeckmann, C., Nitze, I., Grosse, G., Lantuit, H., Irrgang, A., Boike, J., and Vieira, G.: Where is Arctic coastal infrastructure at risk?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9094,, 2022.