Alaska Climate Science Center Fellows' Research Projects

The Alaska Climate Science Center Fellows are graduate students and post doctoral researchers whose projects broadly address social-ecological system responses to climate change in Alaska. Their projects also align with the research directions of the Alaska Climate Science Center, which are determined collaboratively by representatives of federal, state, tribal, and regional organizations.

Location: 
Alaska, Canada, and Russia
Duration: 
August 1, 2013 to August 1, 2016

Dynamical downscaling uses regional models to downscale the coarse output of global climate models and reanalyses to finer spatial and temporal resolution so that such data can be better used by stakeholders for research and planning for future climate change. In this project we use the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model to downscale the ERA-Interim reanalysis and CMIP5 NCAR-CCSM4 and GFDL-CM3 (historical and RCP8.5 simulations) to a 20km grid encompassing all of Alaska for 1970-2100.

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
March 1, 2013 to January 1, 2015

Soil moisture is a vital physical parameter of the active-layer in permafrost environments, and associated biological and geophysical processes operative at the microscopic to hemispheric spatial scales and at hourly to multi-decadal time scales. While in-situ measurements can give the highest quality of information on a site-specific basis, the vast permafrost terrains of North America and Eurasia require space-based techniques for assessments of cause and effect and long-term changes and impacts from the changes of permafrost and the active-layer.

Location: 
Interior Alaska
Duration: 
September 1, 2010 to December 1, 2014

The high latitude regions of the globe are responding to climate change at unprecedented magnitudes and rates. As the climate warms, extreme hydroclimate events are likely to change more than the mean events, and it is the extreme changes that present a risk to society, the economy and the environment of the north. The subarctic boreal forest is one of the largest ecosystems in the world and is greatly understudied with respect to hydroclimate extremes.

Location: 
Juneau, Alaska
Duration: 
April 1, 2013 to August 1, 2014

Increasing temperatures are projected to have a positive effect on the length of Alaska’s summer tourism season, but the natural attractions that tourism relies on, such as glaciers, wildlife, fish, or other natural resources, may change. In order to continue to derive benefits from these resources, nature-based tour operators may have to adapt to these changes, and communication is an essential component of the adaptation process. The goal of this study is to determine how to provide useful climate change information to nature-based tour operators by answering the following questions: 1.

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
August 1, 2011 to August 1, 2014

Alaska is experiencing effects of global climate change due, in large part, to the positive feedback mechanisms associated with polar amplification. The major risk factors include loss of sea ice, glaciers, thawing permafrost, increased wildfires, and ocean acidification. Reanalyses, which are weather forecast models that assimilate observations, are integral to understanding mechanisms of Alaska’s past climate and to help calibrate future modeling efforts.

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
March 1, 2009 to June 1, 2014

Arctic nighttime land-surface temperatures derived by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensors onboard the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites are investigated. We use the local equator crossing times of 22:30 and 01:30, respectively, in the analysis of changes, trends and variations on the Arctic region and within 120° sectors. We show increases in the number of days above 0°C and significant increase trends over their decadal periods of March 2000 through 2010 (MODIS Terra) and July 2002 through 2012 (MODIS Aqua).

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
March 1, 2009 to April 1, 2014

The diurnal variation of surface temperature is a fundamental parameter as it is a driver of physical processes of atmosphere-land and -ocean energy and mass cycles playing a key role in meteorology and climatology. Our investigation focus is on the diurnal variation of land-surface temperature derived by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) deployed on the NASA Terra and Aqua satellites.

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
March 1, 2009 to January 1, 2014

We employ elevation data from the Ice, Cloud, and land Elevation Satellite (ICESat) Geoscience Laser Altimeter System (GLAS) to investigate surface changes across the Lena Delta and sea ice of the coastal Laptev Sea, Siberia during winters of 2003 through 2008. We compare ICESat GLAS-derived elevation changes on sea ice and the Bykovskaya and Sardakhskaya Channels with datum-corrected tide gauge height measurements from Danai, Sannikova and Tiksi stations.

Location: 
Alaska and Reno, Nevada
Duration: 
January 1, 2012 to June 1, 2013

The Pacific Decadal Oscillation or PDO is an index of Pacific Ocean surface temperature variability used in seasonal forecasting and in understanding links between climate and ecosystem processes.  It's influence on climate, however, does not appear to be stable over time in many places.  This is particularly true in northern Alaska.  Southern Alaska, does seem to be generally warmer when the PDO is positive, but the degree of warmth varies.

Location: 
Alaska
Duration: 
January 1, 2012 to June 1, 2013

We often develop high resolution of possible evaporation (PET) data and projections using temperature and precipitation data because they are widely available and of good quality.  But simple projections can be misleading, especially at high latitudes where changes in cloud cover can offset temperature increases.  Understanding the limitations can help us avoid "doing the wrong thing more precisely" as Roger Pulwarty would say.

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