Understanding the response of Alaska's ecosystems to a changing climate to support resource managers and sustainable communities


a person looks through a device on a tripod standing on a bank along a stream

A USGS researcher running a level survey in Seward, Alaska. USGS photo

Check out the following National Science Foundation Programs for graduate students to work with USGS researchers. 

Two NSF programs—GRIP and INTERN—fund opportunities for graduate students to work for the USGS.

The objectives of the programs are:

1. to provide professional growth opportunities for the students by providing them with new mentors, techniques, or ideas that are not available to them at their home institutions; and

poster for the Northwest Climate Conference

The Northwest Climate Conference will be in Portland, Oregon from October 8-10th.

Are you attending the Northwest Climate Conference in Portland, Oregon? If so, check out these presentations from the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center. On October 8th-10th, the conference will bring together practitioners, scientists, tribal communities, and decision-makers to share knowledge, ideas, and best practices related to climate change science, impacts, and adaptation in the Pacific Northwest. Topics include drought, wildfire, extreme events, coastal flooding, human and ecosystem health, and resiliency planning. 

a man stands next to a poster at a conference

Ross Spicer presented his work on exploring thermokarst initiation for the Alaska Thermokarst Model

Be it flowing in rivers or glaciers, falling as snow, or carving the coast in waves, Southeast Alaska is a landscape shaped by water.

a group of people poses for a photo

Attendees from the 2019 CASC Network Meeting in Tuscon.

From the cool boreal forest of Alaska to the hot desert of Arizona– representatives from the CASC network traveled to Tucson, Arizona for the 2019 CASC Network Meeting last week.

people at a table

Ryan Toohey works with participants on an exercise connecting climate impacts across the landscape.

AK CASC’s Ryan Toohey, Jeremy Littell, and Malinda Chase will travel to communities participating in the Looking Forward, Looking Back workshop.

Update 07/27/2018

We were up in the basin on Monday and Tuesday to survey points, fly the drone and recover some of our instruments. Unfortunately, the two backup gages are covered by several meters of ice. We still hope to get them back by the end of the season. There is a lot of ice perched high up in the basin, probably related to the disintegration of the floating tongue, which produced a lot of freely moving ice.

Photo of glacial water in Suicide Basin field site.

Photo from field site visit on July 17th, 2018.

Site visit 07/17/2018

We visited Suicide Basin earlier tonight (4:00 until 7:30 pm). The water flow over the dam diminished during that time while the water level in the lake started dropping noticeably. The drop is also visible in the timelapse feature tracking.

Photo of the water level of Suicide Basin from July 16th, 2018 site visit.

Photo from field site visit on July 16th, 2018.

Site flyover 07/16/2018

Suicide Basin started spilling over this morning and the water elevation appears to have reached temporary steady state between 3:00 and 6:00 pm today.

We flew over the site this afternoon. Some of my photos below. Water level according to our imagery was at ~442 m, about 0.5 m higher than the lowest point in the dam.

orthoimage including elevation contours of Suicide Basin

Fig. 1. Orthoimage from 07/12/2018 including elevation contours. Lake level at 5:50 pm was approximately 438.5 m The lowest point of the dam has an elevation of 441.5 m.

Water level at 5:50 pm: ~438.5 m

Water level increase 3:30 pm – 5:50 pm: 9 cm (equivalent to 0.93 m / day)

Lowest point of dam: ~ 441.5 m

As of last night, there was a 3 m difference between the water level elevation and the elevation of the lowest point of the dam (Figures 1, 2). At the current rate of water level increase, the lake would start spilling over between Sunday evening and Monday morning. While the water level increase slowed down last night (cold, no rain), warm temperatures today and rain on Saturday/Sunday may reverse this trend again.

photo of the water level of Suicide Basin

Figure one from field site visit on July 10th, 2018.

Current situation

As of 6:00 pm today, the water level in Suicide Basin was still rising. According to our estimates, current water volumes in Suicide Basin are in the ballpark of the 2016 flood. Today at noon, the median of our Monte Carlo simulations yielded 0.0325 km3, while the volume of the 2016 flood was approximately 0.035 km3.


Photo by Erin Pettit The 2019 Girls in Icy Fjords team takes a break while sea kayaking near the tidewater glaciers of Northwestern Fjord on the southeastern coast of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

Inspiring Girls Expeditions is accepting applications for 2020 summer expeditions. Young women interested in joining the tuition-free wilderness science education programs should start their applications by Jan. 31.

AK CASC on Twitter

Research Highlight

A conversation about IEM with David McGuire, the Principal Investigator of the Integrated Ecosystem Model (IEM) project, and project affiliate Amy Breen.

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