Newtok, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

Newtok, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta

by | Jul 17, 2020

Newtok is a community located north of Nelson Island, about 125 miles (202 km) south of Emmonak and 96 miles (155 km) west of Bethel, Alaska. The native village was first reported in 1949 by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey as “Keyaluvik”. This was also the name of the earlier settlement just to the west, that became known as “Old Keyaluvik”. In 1960, the name was changed to Newtok.

The village is near the confluence of the Kealavik and Ningaluk Rivers. The Ningaluk is a channel, about 44 miles (71 km) long, between Baird Inlet and Hazen Bay. The river flows generally west and enters the bay north of Kigigak Island. The bay is about 110 miles (180 km) west of Bethel on the Bering Sea.

Erosion and flooding are forcing the primarily Yup’ik Native village to relocate. In 2007, erosion made Newtok an island between the widening Ningaluk River and a slough to the north. Coastal storms and thawing permafrost have worn away the land upon which Newtok was built. The village is at or near sea-level and erosion of the tundra by the river has destroyed much of the village, including the economically important barge dock. The federal government is supporting the move of 9 miles (14 km) to nearby Mertarvik on Nelson Island. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates the highest point in Newtok, the high school, maybe underwater in the near future. Read more here and here. Explore more of Newtok and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta here:

About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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