Alaska Climate Science Center-Funded Research Projects

Climate change is affecting Alaska in profound ways that require innovative approaches to research. Research projects supported by the Alaska Climate Science Center often cross several disciplines in order to broadly address ecosystem responses to climate change. 

Our research direction is determined collaboratively by representatives of federal, state, tribal, and regional organizations. We aim to meet high-level climate science priorities while ensuring this science also is pertinent to and addresses management needs. 

Location: 
Alaska and Washington
Duration: 
June 1, 2015 to June 1, 2017

This project will extend understanding of the role of glaciers in the hydrology of Alaska and Washington state and incorporate this knowledge into two types of simulation models. The project will develop robust methods for hydrologic modeling that will be applicable throughout AK and WA, including areas lacking types of on-the-ground measurements traditionally required for this type of research.

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.

Co-PIs: 
Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
January 1, 2015 to January 1, 2017

Migratory waterfowl that breed in Alaska routinely travel thousands of miles in their annual migrations among breeding, stopover and wintering ranges. The effects of climate and land use on their survival and productivity varies along the migratory routes and population trends result from the cumulative effects of habitat quality and climate throughout their annual range.

Funded Title: 
Integrated Ecosystem Model (IEM) for Alaska and Northwest Canada
Co-PIs: 
Duration: 
November 30, 2011 to November 30, 2016

The Integrated Ecosystem Model (IEM) project is a multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary effort aimed at understanding potential landscape, habitat and ecosystem change in Alaska and Northwest Canada.

Funded Title: 
Use of the AIEM Permafrost Module Output to Assess the Permafrost Changes in the 21st Century and their Impact on Existing and Future Infrastructure in the Alaskan Arctic
Location: 
Northern Alaska
Duration: 
October 1, 2014 to September 1, 2016

The permafrost module of the Integrated Ecosystem Model (IEM) will be used to establish several high spatial resolution (1km x 1km) and very high resolution (30m x 30m) scenarios of changes in permafrost characteristics in the Alaskan Arctic in response to projected climate change and northern infrastructure development. Impact of these changes in permafrost on northern Alaskan ecosystems and infrastructure will be assessed and regional maps of the possible impacts will be developed.

Funded Title: 
Distribution and Flow of Water in Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds
Co-PIs: 
Location: 
Southeast Alaska
Duration: 
August 1, 2014 to August 1, 2016

The flow of water is often highlighted as a priority in land management planning and assessments. A recent evaluation of climate impacts to freshwater aquatic systems identified water as a key supporting ecosystem service. Reduced snowfall and snowpack, earlier spring runoff, increased winter streamflow and flooding, and decreased summer streamflow were identified as potential impacts due to climate change. These factors all have close links to the water balance in the perhumid coastal temperate rainforest (PCTR).

Funded Title: 
Differential Effects of Climate-Mediated Forest Change on the Habitats of Two Ungulates Important to Subsistence and Sport Hunting Economies
Location: 
Alaska and Northwest Canada
Duration: 
April 1, 2015 to April 1, 2016

Climate change is a complex process that may affect the food resources of different species of wildlife in contrasting ways. Moose and caribou are important to both subsistence and sport hunting economies throughout Alaska, but their winter diets are quite different; caribou focus on snow covered ground hugging lichens while moose focus on the twigs of erect deciduous shrubs that protrude above the snow.

Funded Title: 
Detection of Climate-Linked Distributional Shifts of Breeding Waterbirds Across North America
Duration: 
September 1, 2011 to October 1, 2014

Extensive and long-term sampling is necessary to identify demographically important changes in the distribution of wildlife populations that may be linked to climate processes. Few survey data streams exist for such an assessment. The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey is one notable exception to this limitation.

Funded Title: 
Implications of Glacier Change in Alaska
Location: 
Juneau, Alaska
Duration: 
October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013

As climate changes, watersheds along the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) are experiencing some of the highest rates of glacier melting on Earth, causing significant societal and ecological impacts on the structure and productivity of marine ecosystems, safety hazards related to glaciers, hydropower generation, and sea-level rise. This project will bring together scientists and land and resource managers at a workshop to establish a cross-disciplinary framework for developing new tools to monitor and anticipate future changes in glacier runoff along the GOA.

Funded Title: 
SnowDATA: Snow Datasets for Arctic Terrestrial Applications
Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
July 15, 2012 to September 30, 2013

Detailed information on snow conditions is critical for understanding a wide range of hydrologic and ecosystem processes, including those related to surface energy and moisture stores and fluxes, along with subsequent impacts on vegetation, insects, mammals, birds, and fish. In Arctic Alaska, however, such snow datasets currently do not exist at the spatial and temporal scales required by end users such as scientists, land managers, and policy makers.

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