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In Alaska, recent research has identified particular areas of the state where both a lack of soil moisture and warming temperatures increase the likelihood of wildfire. While this is an important finding, this previous research did not take into account the important role that melting snow, ice, and frozen ground (permafrost) play in replenshing soil moisture in the spring and summer months. This project will address this gap in the characterization of fire risk using the newly developed monthly water balance model (MWBM). The MWBM takes into account rain, snow, snowmelt, glacier ice melt, and the permafrost layer to better calculate soil moisture replenishment and the amount of moisture that is lost to the atmosphere...
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Throughout Alaska, land managers and rural communities are faced with developing climate adaptation strategies to prepare for changes in landscapes, ecosystems and terrestrial habitats and their associated resources and services. One of the greatest challenges for land use managers and stakeholders in Alaska is the discovery and accessibility of relevant scientific information and data. The effective dissemination and communication of science relies on improving access for stakeholders to discover research, management plans, and data within their geographic area of interest. To respond to this need, the Northwest Boreal Landscape Conservation Cooperative (NWBLCC) has launched the Northwest Boreal Science and Management...
Abstract (from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2016EF000479/full): Glacier hypsometry provides a first-order approach for assessing a glacier's response to climate forcings. We couple the Randolph Glacier Inventory to a suite of in situ observations and climate model output to examine potential change for the ∼27,000 glaciers in Alaska and northwest Canada through the end of the 21st century. By 2100, based on Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs) 4.5–8.5 forcings, summer temperatures are predicted to increase between +2.1 and +4.6°C, while solid precipitation (snow) is predicted to decrease by −6 to −11%, despite a +9 to +21% increase in total precipitation. Snow is predicted to undergo a pronounced...
Abstract: P-band interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) data at 5 m resolution from Kahiltna Glacier, the largest glacier in the Alaska Range, Alaska, USA, show pronounced spatial variation in penetration depth, δ P. We obtained δ P by differencing X- and P-band digital elevation models. δ P varied significantly over the glacier, but it was possible to distinguish representative zones. In the accumulation area, δ P decreased with decreasing elevation from 18±3 m in the percolation zone to 10±4 m in the wet snow zone. In the central portion of the ablation area, a location free of debris and crevasses, we identified a zone of very high δ P (34±4 m) which decreased at lower elevations (23±3 m in bare ice...
Abstract (from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1873965215000110): The goal of this study was to assess the importance of the 2007 sea ice retreat for hydrologic conditions on the Alaskan North Slope, and how this may have influenced the outbreak of tundra fires in this region. This study concentrates on two years, 2007 and 1996, with different arctic sea ice conditions and tundra fire activity. The year of 2007 is characterized by a low summer sea ice extent (second lowest) and high tundra fire activity, while 1996 had high sea ice extent, and few tundra fires. Atmospheric lateral boundary forcing from the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis drove the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model, along with varying...
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The Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula rivers in the Arctic are heavily glaciated waterways that are important for fish and wildlife as well as human activities including the provision of food, recreation, and, potentially, resource extraction on the coastal plain. If current glacial melting trends continue, most of the ice in these rivers will disappear in the next 50-100 years. Because of their importance to human and natural communities, it is critical to understand how these rivers and their surrounding environments will be affected by climate change and glacier loss. The overarching goal of this project was to research (1) the amount of river water, sediment, nutrients, and organic matter in the Jago, Okpilak, and...
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The Gulf of Alaska is one of the most productive marine ecosystems on Earth, supporting salmon fisheries that alone provide nearly $1 billion per year in economic benefits to Southeast Alaska. Glaciers are central to many of the area’s natural processes and economic activities, but the rates of glacier loss in Alaska are among the highest on Earth, with a 26-36 percent reduction in total volume expected by the end of the century. This project brought together scientists and managers at a workshop to synthesize the impacts of glacier change on the region’s coastal ecosystems and to determine related research and monitoring needs. Collected knowledge shows that melting glaciers are expected to have cascading effects...
A mechanism for better communication between scientists and stakeholders is needed to facilitate the successful exchange of scientific information. This project aims to address this need by developing the ScienceTapes project, an initiative to record and archive conversations between research scientists and non-scientists in order to share science stories to build connections between people, science, and the environment to create a greater understanding of change in Alaska’s (and beyond) landscapes.
Tags: Alaska CASC
Abstract (from: http://www.igsoc.org/journal/60/221/j13J176.html): The Randolph Glacier Inventory (RGI) is a globally complete collection of digital outlines of glaciers, excluding the ice sheets, developed to meet the needs of the Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for estimates of past and future mass balance. The RGI was created with limited resources in a short period. Priority was given to completeness of coverage, but a limited, uniform set of attributes is attached to each of the ~198 000 glaciers in its latest version, 3.2. Satellite imagery from 1999–2010 provided most of the outlines. Their total extent is estimated as 726 800 +/- 34 000 km2. The uncertainty, about +/-...
This 4-page publication was produced from the March 2013 Juneau Glacier Workshop. The publication describes the current understanding of the interconnected icefield, stream, and ocean systems that are such a dominant feature of coastal Alaska. The publication describes the state of research on glaciers and icefields, glacier ecology, and the role that glaciers play in ocean processes.
Abstract: To test the effects of altered hydrology on organic soil decomposition, we investigated CO2 and CH4 production potential of rich-fen peat (mean surface pH = 6.3) collected from a field water table manipulation experiment including control, raised and lowered water table treatments. Mean anaerobic CO2 production potential at 10 cm depth (14.1 ± 0.9 μmol C g-1 d-1) was as high as aerobic CO2 production potential (10.6 ± 1.5 μmol C g-1 d-1), while CH4 production was low (mean of 7.8 ± 1.5 nmol C g-1 d-1). Denitrification enzyme activity indicated a very high denitrification potential (197 ± 23 μg N g-1 d-1), but net reduction suggested this was a relatively minor pathway for anaerobic CO2 production. Abundances...
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Through its many research projects and initiatives, the Alaska Climate Science Center (AK CSC) collects important scientific data that can be shared and used by resource managers in decision-making or other scientists who may access and use the data to move forward the state of the science on a particular topic. The University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), through the work of staff at its International Arctic Research Center (IARC), has become one of the primary providers of data services for the Alaska CSC to help make this data available and accessible and to ensure that it meets required standards and is properly managed, stored, and used. In particular, ongoing UAF data stewardship activities include ensuring that...
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Water is a key ecosystem service that provides life to vegetation, animals, and human communities. The distribution and flow of water on a landscape influences many ecological functions, such as the distribution and health of vegetation and soil development and function. However, the future of many important water resources remains uncertain. Reduced snowfall and snowpack, earlier spring runoff, increased winter streamflow and flooding, and decreased summer streamflow have all been identified as potential impacts to water resources due to climate change. These factors all influence the water balance in the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest (PCTR). Ensuring healthy flow and availability of water resources is...
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The western coast of Alaska is a remote region, rich in wildlife and providing critical nesting habitat for many of Alaska’s seabirds. It is also home to indigenous communities who rely upon the region’s natural resources to support a traditional lifestyle of hunting, gathering, and fishing. Although the region is frequently subject to extensive inland flooding from Bering Sea storms, little is known about the extent and frequency of flooding and its impacts on vegetation, wildlife, and water quality. Furthermore, information is lacking about how climate change and sea-level rise (which can influence the frequency and intensity of storms and subsequent flooding) are affecting this area, its communities, and their...
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Ducks and other waterfowl in the U.S. are valued and enjoyed by millions of birdwatchers, artists, photographers and citizens for their beauty and appeal. Waterfowl also provide game for hunters throughout the country and act as an important source of revenue for states and local communities. Loss of habitat and migration corridors due to land use changes and changes in climate threaten these birds, however more scientific information is needed to understand these processes. This project used available annual surveys of duck counts, along with data on the location and availability of ponds and temperature and precipitation patterns, to model where across the continental landscape waterfowl were present and if their...
Abstract: Arctic tundra ecosystems have experienced unprecedented change associated with climate warming over recent decades. Across the Pan-Arctic, vegetation productivity and surface greenness have trended positively over the period of satellite observation. However, since 2011 these trends have slowed considerably, showing signs of browning in many regions. It is unclear what factors are driving this change and which regions/landforms will be most sensitive to future browning. Here we provide evidence linking decadal patterns in arctic greening and browning with regional climate change and local permafrost-driven landscape heterogeneity. We analyzed the spatial variability of decadal-scale trends in surface greenness...
Abstract (from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hyp.9934/abstract): Adaptation planning in Alaska, as in other snowy parts of the world, will require snow projections, yet snow is a challenging variable to measure, simulate and downscale. Here we describe the construction and evaluation of 771-m-resolution gridded historical and statistically downscaled projections of snow/rain partitioning for the state of Alaska at decadal temporal resolution. The method developed here uses observational data to describe the relationship between average monthly temperature and the fraction of wet days in that month receiving snow, the snow-day fraction. Regionally and seasonally specific equations were developed to...
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Communities, resource managers, and decision makers in Arctic Alaska are in need of scientific information to base important decisions related to anticipating and adapting to changes in temperature and precipitation. Since its inception in 2011, the Alaska Climate Science Center (AK CSC) and its partners have produced a variety of scientific products and datasets aimed at supporting this need and increasing climate change resilience in the Arctic. However, much of the information related to these activities is dispersed across many technical publications, and is often not readily accessible to those outside the research community. In an effort to make this science more available and accessible, the AK CSC is working...
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For the Upper Yukon area of interior Alaska, climate change has become a daily fact of life, causing a wide range of impacts to the environment, and in some cases to community health. In 2015 the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium and the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center organized a series of assessments to better understand the impacts of climate change being observed in this region, including the communities Arctic Village, Fort Yukon, and Venetie. Support for this project was provided by USGS and by local tribal partners including Arctic Village Traditional Council, Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Council, and the Venetie Village Council. The assessments were also performed in partnership with three...


map background search result map search result map Understanding the Links between Climate and Waterbirds across North America The Impacts of Glacier Change on the Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula Rivers in the Arctic From Icefield to Ocean: Glacier Change Impacts to Alaska’s Coastal Ecosystems Modeling Future Storm Impacts on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Projecting the Future Distribution and Flow of Water in Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Arctic Alaska Improving the Accessibility and Usability of Scientific Data: Data Management and Data Services for the Alaska CSC Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Community Observations on Climate Change: Arctic Village, Fort Yukon, and Venetie, Alaska Northwest Boreal Science and Management Research Tool Community Observations on Climate Change: Arctic Village, Fort Yukon, and Venetie, Alaska Modeling Future Storm Impacts on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta The Impacts of Glacier Change on the Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula Rivers in the Arctic Projecting the Future Distribution and Flow of Water in Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds From Icefield to Ocean: Glacier Change Impacts to Alaska’s Coastal Ecosystems Northwest Boreal Science and Management Research Tool A Synthesis of Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Arctic Alaska Improving Characterizations of Future Wildfire Risk in Alaska Understanding the Links between Climate and Waterbirds across North America Improving the Accessibility and Usability of Scientific Data: Data Management and Data Services for the Alaska CSC