This paper presents the results of a community survey that was designed to better under-stand the effects of permafrost degradation and coastal erosion on civil infrastructure. Observations were collected from residents in four Arctic coastal communities: Point Lay, Wainwright, Utqiaġvik, and Kaktovik. All four communities are underlain by continuous ice-rich permafrost with varying degrees of degradation and coastal erosion. The types, locations, and periods of observed permafrost thaw and coastal erosion were elicited. Survey participants also reported the types of civil infrastructure being affected by permafrost degradation and coastal erosion and any damage to residential buildings. Most survey participants reported that coastal erosion has been occurring for a longer pe-riod than permafrost thaw. Surface water ponding, ground surface collapse, and differential ground settlement are the three types of changes in ground surface manifested by permafrost degradation that are most frequently reported by the participants, while houses are reported as the most affected type of infrastructure in the Arctic coastal communities. Wall cracking and house tilting are the most commonly reported types of residential building damage. The effects of permafrost degradation and coastal erosion on civil infrastructure vary between communities. Locations of observed permafrost degradation and coastal erosion collected from all survey participants in each community were stacked using heatmap data visualization. The heatmaps constructed using the community survey data are reasonably consistent with modeled data synthesized from the scientific literature. This study shows a useful approach to coproduce knowledge with Arctic residents to identify locations of permafrost thaw and coastal erosion at higher spatial resolution as well as the types of infrastructure damage of most concern to Arctic residents.


Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering


This study was funded by the United States (US) National Science Foundation (NSF), grant numbers ICER-1927718, ICER-1927708, ICER-1928237, OPP-1832238, and OPP-1745369.

Keywords and Phrases

Arctic; Civil Infrastructure; Co-Production of Knowledge; Coastal Erosion; Community Survey; Permafrost Thaw

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Article - Journal

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Final Version

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Publication Date

15 Mar 2022