The Alaskan Arctic Coast: Wetland or Desert?

by Scott B. Robertson, ARCO Alaska Inc, Anchorage, AK, USA,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '87


Deserts can be defined by low precipitation and lack of water. The Alaskan Arctic coast receives approximately 18 cm (7 in. ) of precipitation annually and for 8 months of the year there is an absence of liquid water. Yet, during the brief summer, ponds and lakes abound; moist and wet ground is almost ubiquitous; and waterfowl and shorebirds flock to the area to breed. The purpose of the paper described in this abstract is to explain how this apparent contradiction is possible, to describe the features and characteristics of these Arctic wetlands and who the plant and animal users are, to examine some of the differences between this area and 'normal' wetlands, and to look at some of the engineering and environmental problems and solutions for developing an oilfield on the Arctic coast. These solutions not only consider the impact of the environment on facilities, but the potential impact of facilities on the environment.

Subject Headings: Wetlands (coastal) | Arid lands | Precipitation | Ponds | Lakes | Moisture | Animals | Cold regions engineering | Arctic | Alaska | United States

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