Arctic and Western Alaska Landscape Change Projects

permafrost polygons from above
Aug 2018

Information need

As the climate warms, resource managers need more precise tools to assess how sensitive the landscapes of arctic and western Alaska may be to change so that they may prepare appropriate conservation strategies.

End products

The low-lying landscape mosaics of the Alaska Arctic Coastal Plain and the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta provide essential habitat for shorebirds and waterfowl. This region is also at risk of massive change, as underlying permafrost thaws in response to a warming climate. To conserve ecosystem services associated with the biological richness of this area, management strategies need to include projected changes in landscape composition.For the Coastal Plain and the Y-K Delta,  this project will provide:

  • current high-resolution (30 m2) land cover maps
  • a predictive model of landscape change due to thermokarst
  • maps (1000 m2) of simulated landscape change due to thermokarst for 2000-2100
  • suitability and vulnerability maps (1000 m2) of shorebird and waterfowl habitat in response to landscape change  


We will use the Alaska Thermokarst Model (ATM) and repeated imagery analysis to describe the mechanisms of landcover change. The ATM will then simulate landscape dynamics through the end of the 21st century under six different climate scenarios to determine which areas are most susceptible to change. These simulations will then be used as input for habitat models used by resource managers.


Arctic LCC, Western Alaska LCC, US Fish and Wildlife Service, BLM, EROS Data Center/USGS, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center/USGS, Alaska Science Center/USGS