Defense Long-Range Radar, Barter Island

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Defense Long-Range Radar, Barter Island

by | Jun 27, 2020

The Barter Island long-range radar facility is on the Beaufort Sea coast, between Arey and Kaktovik Lagoons, about 312 miles east-southeast of Utqiaġvik and 0.65 miles (1 km) northwest of Kaktovik, Alaska. On August 4, 1826, Sir John Franklin assumed the island was part of the mainland and applied the name “Point Manning” to the easternmost point. John Simpson’s native map, dated 1855, shows this as “Tungak Island” and on what appears to be present-day Manning Point the native name “Nu-wu-ak Point” is shown with the note “the place of barter”. This is probably the origin of the name Barter Island.

A runway was built here by the U.S. military in 1947, and in 1951 the U.S. Air Force assumed control of Barter Island to support a Distant Early Warning Line radar station. The Barter Island station was operated by civilian contract workers until 1990 when the radar station was upgraded with long-range surveillance radar. The station was re-designated as part of the North Warning System operated by the Pacific Air Forces 611th Air Support Group based at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

There are 4 active long-range radar stations on the Alaska Arctic coast out of 21 Distant Early Warning (DEW) stations that were built during the Cold War. Several of the remaining stations are being threatened by shoreline erosion. Erosion is mostly caused by wind-generated waves during ice-free conditions in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. Longer periods of an ice-free ocean will cause more frequent wave attack on shoreline permafrost. Read more here and here. Explore more of Barter Island and the Beaufort Sea coast here:

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