Institute for Water Resources

Home
Home > Missions > Coasts > Tales of the Coast > Americas-Coasts > Alaska Coast > Northern Alaska

Tales of the Coast
America's Coasts

Northern Alaska

Along the northern coast of Alaska, bordering the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas, river deltas and barriers characterize the coastal landscape. There are barrier islands and cuspate forelands that resemble similar features on the Atlantic coast. Sediment in this region is derived from rivers draining the Brooks Range and the Canadian Rockies. These rivers build deltas into the sea, thereby providing substrate for barrier formation by the waves and currents. Even though the rivers and ocean are frozen for much of the year, there are significant amounts of sediment present to encourage delta and barrier formation.

Beaches are not static during the frozen months, however, as sea ice is pushed along the shore by wind, a process which moves sediment along the shore and offshore.

Map of United States showing Alaska

Source: NationalAtlas.gov

Alaska's Barriers

Including the numerous spits found in the Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska, the state of Alaska has nearly 1,300 km of barriers in total, which exceeds those in Florida.