Ice2O: Assessing Icefield-to-Ocean Change in the Pacific Coastal Temperate Rainforest (PCTR)

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
April 1, 2015 to April 1, 2017

Projected climate warming is expected to alter the water cycle throughout coastal Alaska. In particular, changes in seasonal snowcover and glacier volume have the potential to change the amount and timing of freshwater delivery to the ocean. Climate change will also impact the amount and timing of nutrients delivered by streams to near-shore habitats. As glaciers change, so will the runoff that is a primary driver for coastal currents that contribute to vibrant nearshore marine ecosystems. The potential impacts on economically important species such as herring and salmon are poorly understood, but we do know that the wellbeing of many species is linked to physical processes and climate. Improving our understanding of these linkages will help resource managers to make better long-term decisions with regard to managing ecosystems along the Gulf of Alaska. Other potential impacts of glacier loss include changing coastal viewsheds, which impacts tourism and recreation industries. Providing decision support to plan for these changes requires interagency collaborations, cross-disciplinary research and technical tools that enable data integration across space and time. Our work will provide a data-backed foundation by which we can assess snow and ice in coastal Alaska, and contribute to informed decision making regarding our resources.