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Noon seminar - Arctic coastal changes & their potential importance in a time of global sand scarcity

Monday, March 09, 2020, 12:15PM - 1:15PM


Mette Bendixen


SEEC S228 (Sievers Room)

Climate change is particularly pronounced in Arctic regions causing the landscape and the coastal areas to change. In Greenland, one of the main actors changing the morphology is the Greenland ice sheet. As it loses its mass, ice flow dynamics transport sediment through the landscape to be deposited at the coast. As a consequence of this increased melt, the Greenland deltas have prograded significantly since the 1980’s, expanding the coastal areas. The supply of sediment to the coast is so massive that it could serve as potential source of material for the global construction market. 15% of Greenland's rivers transport 80% of the total riverine sediment load, meaning that a few river outlets are hotspots of sediment transport.

Globally, sand and gravel reserves are rapidly depleting while need is increasing, largely due to urban expansion, infrastructural improvements, and land reclamation, and future global demand is expected to rise. Exploiting the sediment in Greenland by setting up a sand industry could potentially act as a new way to diversify and strengthen the country’s economy. But the consequences for the Greenland nature and society in general are still unknown – and until now, Indigenous voices have not been heard.

In this talk, I will discuss how climate-induced geomorphologic changes in the Arctic potentially can relieve some of the pressure on the world’s sand resources.


Free and open to the public.