Quantifying, communicating and confirming rates of coastal change in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region
Large tracts of Canada’s Arctic coastline are subject to a wide range of novel stresses, driven by varying combinations of warmer atmospheric and oceanic temperatures, increasingly extensive open waters, a longer open-water season, and more energetic storms. These impacts are amplified where the coast comprises unlithified sediments containing large volumetric fractions of ice. Near-shore ecosystems are also at risk, due to increased influxes of sediment and organic matter. Nearly every settlement in the Canadian High Arctic is located in a coastal setting. Direct impacts of coastal geomorphological change include increasing risk of loss of property, infrastructure and cultural heritage through erosion of the land-base, exacerbated by rising sea-level and higher-amplitude storm surges. Such threats relate at least equally to sites of high significance for local culture and heritage. Any potential for disruption of near-shore food webs raises major concerns for communities’ food security, which depends heavily on marine biological resources. These observations reveal a pressing need to quantify signs and rates of geomorphological change along Arctic coastlines, focusing on areas close to settlements and sites of cultural and archaeological importance. To inform initiatives towards mitigation and remediation, as well as to support further scientific investigation, the results of such an assessment must be made available in accessible form to local communities, heritage resource managers, those responsible for local infrastructure and planning, associated administrative bodies, and northern colleges. This presentation describes a project led by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to accomplish these goals for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, as a use-case under the umbrella of the Canadian Consortium for Arctic Data Interoperability. We will discuss how we collaboratively identified a suitable approach to conducting the assessment; outline progress towards implementing a discoverable, searchable and interoperable database through which to disseminate results; and assess options for validating modelled results through ‘citizen-science’ participation.