Osborne, P.D. and Forest, A., 2016. Sediment dynamics from coast to slope – Southern Canadian Beaufort Sea. In: Vila-Concejo, A.; Bruce, E.; Kennedy, D.M., and McCarroll, R.J. (eds.), Proceedings of the 14th International Coastal Symposium (Sydney, Australia). Journal of Coastal Research, Special Issue, No. 75, pp. 537-541. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
Profound changes in cross-shelf sediment fluxes are anticipated in coming decades in the southern Canadian Beaufort Sea where an accelerated increase in temperature could lead to large changes in Arctic river hydrology and coastal-marine geomorphologic processes. In the past decade sediment exported to the Beaufort Shelf has increased while sea level pressure has increased accelerating the Beaufort Gyre, strengthening coastal upwelling and expanding the Mackenzie River plume offshore. Sea-ice extent has decreased while storminess has increased increasing wave action, coastal downwelling, current surge and resuspension and transport on the shoreface and shelf. This paper investigates mechanisms, quantities and rates of sediment transport operating in this cold continental shelf-slope environment. Past studies from more than 2 decades of research are compared with recent measurements to develop improved estimates of sediment sources, pathways, fate and fluxes across the shelf and slope. In particular, we explore connections between data from a long term mooring observatory deployed over the continental shelf and slope during the ArcticNet-Industry Partnership (2009–2011) and Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment (BREA 2011–2015) to those acquired in studies focusing on nearshore and shoreface. Sediment fluxes from the Mackenzie River and erosion of permafrost coasts are compared with outer shelf-slope measurements of settling particles and near-bottom fluxes. In turn, the role of atmospheric and cryospheric processes in forcing sediment transfer from coast to slope is investigated to assess system response to changing climate and evaluate implications for marine hydrocarbon resource development along the continental margin of the Arctic Ocean.