Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds

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Funded Title: 
Distribution and Flow of Water in Alaskan Coastal Forest Watersheds
Southeast Alaska
Aug 2014 to Aug 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). The improved measurement and modeling of water is required to develop predictive estimates for plant distributions, soil moisture, and snowpack, which all play important roles in ecosystem planning in the face of climate change. The goal of this project is to develop a spatially explicit groundwater prediction model. Using remote sensing, digital elevation models, GIS, and spatial analysis techniques we will create a data framework to support multi-faceted hydrologic modeling at the landscape scale. The primary data deliverable will be a viable wetness index validated with an extensive soil water measurement records. The index will be used to identify zones of soil moisture accumulation and flow routing to stream networks and provide a critical input variable for informing and testing the Integrated Ecosystem Model.