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Posted Sun May 23 2010: from Anchorage Press:
A fragile past - Archaeologists are scrambling as accelerated erosion sweeps away artifacts on Alaska's Arctic coast
The Colorado team has measured coastal erosion near the old whaling site for three years. Overeem says the area loses ground as fast as 30 meters per year, and consistently around 15 meters per year. Coastal erosion is constant everywhere the land meets the sea. But in Arctic and sub-Arctic terrain, where the bluffs are often composed of a mix of soft soil and ice, erosion has accelerated in recent years. Call it global warming or climate change or the faddish, freak storm-centered term "global weird-ing"--by any name, it spells doom for countless small artifacts like the boat in the photograph, and for old village sites, trading posts and hunting sites that link Alaskans to the past.... He says one of the problems with erosion is more contemporary. "There are not only a lot of archeological sites, but a lot of community cemeteries that are in danger," he says. He ticks off a list of communities where graves will likely be moved--Port Heiden Dillingham, Nanwhalek and Old Afognak--often the graves are unmarked and without surviving records of who is buried there.
[Read more stories about: arctic meltdown, permafrost meltdown]

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'Doc Michael says:
Losing the past doesn't bode well for the future.

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