Geomorphic Processes and Vegetational Change along the Meade River Sand Bluffs in Northern Alaska

  • K.M. Peterson
  • W.D. Billings
Keywords: Coast changes, Plants (Biology), Sand, Wind erosion, Meade River region, Alaska


Geomorphic processes within the region of sand deposits on the Alaskan Arctic coastal plain bring about changes in local environments, and consequently in local vegetation, through time. Geomorphic processes and vegetational patterns on bluffs are related to the directions which the bluffs face with respect to prevailing winds. Caribou and ground squirrels augment wind erosion of the bluffs by disturbing the vegetation while grazing, trampling or burrowing. Environmentally induced vegetational changes resulting from continued geomorphic and animal disturbances are more common than autogenic successions which, being generally accompanied by rising permafrost, help to stabilize sands. Vegetational sequences existing along the bluffs result from the interaction of both linear and cyclic changes in the ecosystem.