Articles | Volume 13, issue 5
Research article
27 May 2019
Research article |  | 27 May 2019

Rapid retreat of permafrost coastline observed with aerial drone photogrammetry

Andrew M. Cunliffe, George Tanski, Boris Radosavljevic, William F. Palmer, Torsten Sachs, Hugues Lantuit, Jeffrey T. Kerby, and Isla H. Myers-Smith

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Cited articles

Agisoft: Agisoft PhotoScan User Manual: Professional Edition, Version 1.4, Agisoft, 2018. 
Assmann, J. J.: Arctic tundra plant phenology and greenness across space and time, PhD thesis, University of Edinburgh, 2019. 
Barnhart, K. R., Anderson, R. S., Overeem, I., Wobus, C., Clow, G. D., and Urban, F. E.: Modeling erosion of ice-rich permafrost bluffs along the Alaskan Beaufort Sea coast, J. Geophys. Res.-Earth, 119, 1155–1179,, 2014. 
Bell, L. E., Bluhm, B. A., and Iken, K.: Influence of terrestrial organic matter in marine food webs of the Beaufort Sea shelf and slope, Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser., 550, 1–24,, 2016. 
Boak, E. H. and Turner, I. L.: Shoreline definition and detection: a review, J. Coastal Res., 2005, 688–703,, 2005. 
Short summary
Episodic changes of permafrost coastlines are poorly understood in the Arctic. By using drones, satellite images, and historic photos we surveyed a permafrost coastline on Qikiqtaruk – Herschel Island. We observed short-term coastline retreat of 14.5 m per year (2016–2017), exceeding long-term average rates of 2.2 m per year (1952–2017). Our study highlights the value of these tools to assess understudied episodic changes of eroding permafrost coastlines in the context of a warming Arctic.