The Colville is an Arctic river in the Alaska North Slope. The residents of Nuiqsut rely heavily on the Colville for their subsistence needs. Increased erosion has been reported on the Colville, especially along bluffs, which shaped the goals of this study: to use remote sensing techniques to map and quantify erosion rates and the volume of land loss at selected bluff sites along the main channel of the Colville, and to assess the suitability of automated methods of regional erosion monitoring. We used orthomosaics from high resolution aerial photos acquired in 1955 and 1979/1982, as well as high resolution WorldView-2 images from 2015 to quantify long-term erosion rates and the cubic volume of erosion. We found that, at the selected sites, erosion rates averaged 1 to 3.5 m per year. The erosion rate remained the same at one site and increased from 1955 to 2015 at two of the four sites. We estimated the volume of land loss to be in the magnitude of 166,000 m3
to 2.5 million m3
at our largest site. We also found that estimates of erosion were comparable for manual hand-digitized and automated methods, suggesting our automated method was effective and can be extended to monitor erosion at other sites along river systems that are bordered by bluffs.
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