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. 

Funded Title: 
Assessing the Sensitivity of Alaska’s Coastal Rainforest Ecosystems to Changes in Glacier Runoff
Location: 
Gulf of Alaska, Alaska Science Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks, University of Alaska Southeast
Duration: 
September 1, 2011 to September 1, 2013

Coastal temperate rainforests along the Gulf of Alaska are experiencing high rates of glacier mass loss, primarily due to changes in climate.  The high sensitivity of glaciers to climate forcing results in strong impacts on freshwater runoff from glacierized basins.  This project will develop methods to quantify runoff from watersheds along the Gulf of Alaska, thereby allowing an assessment of impacts on coastal ecosystems.

Funded Title: 
Linking Climate, Vegetation, and Ungulate Dynamics Across the Alaska Region
Duration: 
February 19, 2013

Several possible mechanisms may be responsible for recent declines in many caribou herds, including the effects of climate change. This project aims to form a research consortium that will integrate two Alaskan Landscape Conservation Cooperative projects and facilitate coordination between leaders and colleagues in the scientific community to address caribou dynamics.

Funded Title: 
Integrating Studies of Glacier Dynamics and Estuarine Chemistry in the context of Landscape Change in the Arctic
Duration: 
February 19, 2013

The Jago, Okpilak, and Hulahula rivers in the Arctic are heavily glaciated watersheds that are important for fish and wildlife, subsistence, recreation, and, potentially, resource extraction on the coastal plain. If current glacial loss trends continue, most of the ice in these rivers will disappear in the next 50-100 years. It is important to understand the response of these rivers to climate change and the role of shrinking glaciers in the future dynamics of these rivers and the estuarine environments they influence.

Funded Title: 
Western Alaska Coastal Hazards and Stream and Lake Monitoring
Duration: 
February 19, 2013

Coastal hazards, such as storm surges, erosion, and flooding, as well as coastal, stream, and lake processes, are very important factors that influence ecosystems in western Alaska. An analysis of coastal hazards and a monitoring program of streams and lakes are needed to provide a better understanding of how climate change will impact this region. This project will be implemented as a joint effort among the Alaska Climate Science Center (AK CSC), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative (WALCC).

Funded Title: 
Validation of Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta Storm Surge Model
Duration: 
February 19, 2013

Despite being a critical nesting habitat for many of Alaska’s seabirds and other wildlife, relatively little is known about the western coast of Alaska in relation to the character and impact of Bering Sea storms, the extent and frequency of flooding and its impact on vegetation, wildlife, and water quality, or about the effects of climate change and sea-level rise on this area, its communities, and their infrastructure.

Funded Title: 
Yukon River Basin Project: Ecology, Soil Carbon and Permafrost Experiments
Location: 
Bonanza Creek LTER and University of Alaska Fairbanks
Duration: 
February 19, 2013

Boreal wetlands are important for wildlife and carbon storage and are being affected by multiple environmental stressors including permafrost thaw. In particular, thermokarst bogs resulting from permafrost thaw can result in large feedbacks to global climate if methane (CH4) and carbon dioxide (CO2) fluxes are large. In addition, our understanding of the environmental, chemical, and biotic interactions that control greenhouse gas fluxes from thawing permafrost environments is limited, and changes over the course of wetland development.

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