EGU24-15989, updated on 09 Mar 2024
EGU General Assembly 2024
© Author(s) 2024. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Vulnerability assessment of Arctic coastal communities to the effects of coastal erosion and permafrost warming.

Rodrigue Tanguy1, Annett Bartsch1, Ingmar Nitze2, Anna Irrgang2, Pia Petzold2, Barbara Widhalm1, Clemens von Baeckmann1, Julia Boike2, Julia Martin2, Aleksandra Efimova1, Gonçalo Vieira3, Birgit Heim2, Mareike Wieczorek2, Guido Grosse2, and Dorothee Ehrich4
Rodrigue Tanguy et al.
  • 1b.geos - Austrian Polar Research Institute, Korneuburg, Austria (
  • 2Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, Potsdam, Germany
  • 3Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon, Lisbon, Portugal
  • 4UiT The Arctic University of Norway

This study assesses the escalating vulnerability of Arctic coastal communities due to the combined impacts of coastal erosion and permafrost warming. With the Arctic experiencing heightened temperatures, coastal permafrost areas face increased instability, endangering vital infrastructures. The study focuses on a pan-Arctic evaluation of settlements and infrastructures at risk, enhancing the existing Arctic coastal infrastructure dataset (SACHI) to include road types, airstrips, and artificial water reservoirs.

By analyzing coastline change rates from 2000 to 2020, alongside permafrost ground temperature and active layer thickness trends from the ESA Permafrost Climate Change Initiative datasets, the research identifies settlements at risk for the years 2030, 2050, and 2100. The accuracy of the dataset is rigorously evaluated. Results indicate that by 2100, 23% of coastal settlements will face the impacts of coastal erosion. Projections based on linear trends suggest an 8°C increase in coastal permafrost ground temperature and a 0.9-meter growth in active layer thickness by the same year.

Crucially, the study reveals that 65% of all infrastructures and settlements will be affected by permafrost warming within the range of 5-15°C, with 35% experiencing active layer thickening between 1-5 meters. This research marks the first regional-scale identification of settlements at risk from coastal erosion along Arctic and permafrost-dominated coasts in the northern hemisphere. The findings emphasize the urgency of adapting to current and future environmental changes to mitigate the deterioration of living conditions in permafrost coastal settlements. Immediate action is imperative to counteract these challenges and ensure the resilience of these vulnerable communities.

How to cite: Tanguy, R., Bartsch, A., Nitze, I., Irrgang, A., Petzold, P., Widhalm, B., von Baeckmann, C., Boike, J., Martin, J., Efimova, A., Vieira, G., Heim, B., Wieczorek, M., Grosse, G., and Ehrich, D.: Vulnerability assessment of Arctic coastal communities to the effects of coastal erosion and permafrost warming., EGU General Assembly 2024, Vienna, Austria, 14–19 Apr 2024, EGU24-15989,, 2024.