Forces of Change
Many buildings lost in the 1963 flood were located on beaches being mined for gravel and fill.
Photo © Grace Redding

Front Row Exposure

On October 3, 1963, Barrow, Alaska, set a new record for severe weather. The most violent storm in memory struck that day.

Both scientists and residents have witnessed more damaging storms in the Arctic since the 1960s—at the same time that most of the region has warmed. Since 1955, Barrow has lost about 15 m (nearly 50 ft) of its shoreline—more in some areas and less in others.

Barrow’s population has tripled since 1963. Now when a storm strikes, more people and more property are in its path.

Map The M Factory © Smithsonian Institution