The Arctic is rapidly experiencing the effects climate change, and Kaktovik is no exception. Like all small villages on the North Slope, Kaktovik is seeing massive coastal erosion that may soon threaten local infrastructure.
To investigate the extent of erosion occurring in their own backyard, we equipped the students with GPS units and took a walk down to the beach cliffs on the west side of town. The students stood at the base of the cliffs and took waypoints as we walked west.
Two years ago, the last time that Cliff Strain was the Science Camp teacher, he had the students do the same activity. We found that since then, at some places, the cliffs had eroded as much as 60 feet. This rapid erosion is due to the dramatic increases in temperature seen throughout the Arctic in the past few decades.
See more of how Kaktovik and other Inupiat communities are being affected by climate change in this video.
To an outsider like me, this outing also had several reminders of the realities of bears in North Slope communities.