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


ice from a glacier in a basin

Photo from field visit on June 21st, 2019

The water in Suicide Basin has gone up by 14 m (~1 m per day) since our last site visit on 7 June. On Friday afternoon, the surveyed lake level was at 420.35 m and thus ~18 m below the lowest point of the dam. Based on filling rates from previous years, dam overtopping may start around 12 July (see graph on the new NOAA website https://www.weather.gov/ajk/suicideBasin). This is only a rough estimate, since the lake may drain before overtopping and since filling rates may change from day to day.

Women with backpack and paddle stands near sign in mountains

Image courtesy of Amy Macpherson

Amy Macpherson joins us as the SNAP and AK CASC Data Manager and Analyst. Macpherson will be assisting with assisting researchers with metadata creation and maintenance and in keeping data organized and accessible for all users.

Image from a timelapse camera in the basin, with a scale to measure water level.

Image from a timelapse camera in the basin from June 7, 2019, with a scale to measure water level.

We drilled in a new melt wire at the basin entrance (to continue the ice melt measurements we started last spring), deployed the drone (for DEMs and orthoimages), surveyed the lowest point in the dam (to constrain the maximum water level), and deployed additional air temperature sensors higher up in the basin (to facilitate melt modeling across the entire Suicide Basin watershed).

an image of suicide basin water levels, with a water level scale.

Image from a timelapse camera in the basin, with a scale to measure water level.

Using the drone-based elevations models from last year, we derived an approximate vertical scale for the rock face on the north side of the basin. This scale is plotted on top of the telemetered photos and gives an approximate idea about the ice/water elevation in the absence of telemetered water level measurements. 

Vertical scale bar measuring water level along the rock wall.

Vertical scale bar along the rock wall.

We installed the non-telemetered water level gauges, webcam, temperature and precipitation gauges, and the on-ice GPS. We also measured ice melt. We didn’t fly the drone and weren’t able to access/survey the water surface this time.

a group watches as two men turn a drone on

Preparing the drone for a flight survey (Photo Molly Tankersley).

AK CASC's Christian Kienholz taught a class at the UAS titled "Using Drones for Environmental Monitoring." With Eran Hood and Gabriel Wolken, he trained students to use drones for aerial mapping.

A group of people have a discussion around a table

NWS Hydrologist Aaron Jacobs listens at a table of workshop participants.

The term drought brings to mind cracked earth, forest fires, and empty river beds, but at the Southeast Alaska Drought Workshop held in Juneau this week, a different type of drought was discussed.

A group of people sit at a table looking at drawings on paper

Tribal Liaison Malinda Chase works with community members on a climate change visualization exercize. 

Last week, fourteen representatives from five tribes traveled to Fairbanks for a three-day knowledge-sharing workshop on a topic they are reckoning with daily: climate change.

fire burning through a forest

Photo credit: Mary Cernicek, public domain

Understanding the climatic conditions that influence wildfire patterns can improve our ability to predict the occurrence and severity of future wildfires.

a group of people talk in a large room.

Workshop participants exchange stories about their hometowns and experiences as Alaskans.

Where does one start when tackling the thorny challenge of talking about climate change? AK CASC staff and researchers held an interactive seminar at the 2019 Alaska Forum on the Environment in Anchorage last week.


scientists examine a downed tree in an avalanche

An ongoing study of tree rings is helping AK CASC scientists understand Juneau's avalanche history to better predict hazards.

AK CASC on Twitter

Research Highlight

Berries are extremely important to human and wildlife communities in Alaska, and in some locations abundance has decreased significantly in recent years.

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