Coastal dynamics and shoreface relief in ice-free seas are a function of hydrodynamic interactions between the sea and bottom sediments. In the Arctic, additional, cryogenic factors such as permafrost and the action of sea ice influence coastal processes. The goal of our paper is to assess this influence, mainly on the profile shape. Mathematical analyses of the shape of 63 shoreface profiles from the Laptev, Beaufort, and Chukchi Seas were carried out. The shapes of Arctic shoreface profiles and those of ice-free seas are compared. We found that large ice and silt content in perennially frozen sediments composing Arctic coasts favor their erosion. Sea ice plays an important role in sediment transport on the shoreface and correspondingly changes shoreface relief significantly. Some effects of ice intensify coastal erosion considerably, but others play a protective role. The overall influence of cryogenic processes on Arctic coasts composed of loose sediments is seen in that the average rate of coastal retreat is larger than in the temperate environments, even though Arctic coasts are protected by a continuous ice cover most of the year. The shape of the shoreface profile in the Arctic does not differ from that in ice-free seas, and is satisfactorily described by the Bruun/Dean equilibrium profile equation. The explanation of this fact is that all changes of the profile shape, caused by cryogenic processes, are short lived and quickly eliminated by wave action.
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Vol. 2008 • No. 241