Barrier islands in arctic Alaska are composed of sandy gravel, whereas lower-latitude barrier islands are composed of predominantly sandy material. This pronounced grain-size difference needs explanation. Because wind-winnowing of island surfaces is effective during most of the yearly cycle, while sediment supply by waves is effective for about 2 mo at most, eolian sand deflation might be a mechanism to explain the coarse sediments of arctic barrier islands. In late winter, plumes of windblown sand are found on the fast ice downwind of barrier islands. More than 300 t (tonnes) of sand were removed by wind action from one small island near Prudhoe Bay in one winter; this loss suggests a deflation rate of 2 mm for that period.

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