Gulf of Alaska Runoff

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: 
Sep 2011 to Sep 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. This study will also assess available data, develop an interdisciplinary conceptual model, and disseminate findings to scientific peers, agency decisionmakers  and the public. This research will enable  increased understanding of one of the least understood regional water cycles on Earth. New information from this study will provide a framework for assessing the future evolution of glacier discharge into the Gulf of Alaska, reducing uncertainty in determining the response of coastal ecosystems to changing climate.

Project Related Peer-Reviewed Publications: 

Bartholomaus, T. C., C. F. Larsen, S. O'Neel, and M. E. West, (2012), Calving seismicity from iceberg–sea surface interactions, J. Geophys. Res., 117, F04029, doi:10.1029/2012JF002513 

E. Welty, T.C. Bartholomaus, S O’Neel, W.T. Pfeffer, (in press), Cameras as clocks , J. Glaciol.


McNabb, R. W., R. Hock, S. O’Neel, L.A. Rasmussen, Y. Ahn, M. Braun, H. Conway, S. Herried, I. Joughin, W.T. Pfeffer, B.E. Smith, and M. Truffer. 2012. Using surface velocities to calculate bed topography: A case study at Columbia Glacier, Alaska, USA. J. Glaciology, 58(212):1151-1164. doi: 10.3189/2012JoG11J249

Pettit, E. C., J. A. Nystuen, and S. O’Neel. 2012. Listening to glaciers: Passive hydroacoustics near marine-terminating glaciers. Oceanography 25(3):104–105. doi: 10.5670/oceanog.2012.81. 

O’Neel, S. 2012. Surface mass balance of Columbia Glacier, Alaska, 1978 and 2010 balance years. U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 676, 8 p.

Fellman, J.B., S. Nagorski, S. Pyare, A.vermilyea, D. Scott, and E. Hood. 2013. Stream temperature response to variable glacier coverage in coastal watersheds of southeast Alaska. Hydrological Processes, in press.

Arendt, A., S. Luthcke, A. Gardner, S. O'Neel, G. Moholdt, W. Abdalati. Analysis of a GRACE global mascon Solution for Gulf of Alaska Glaciers. (submitted Oct 2012 to J. Glaciology.)


Luthcke, S., T. Sabaka, B. Loomis, A. Arendt, D. Rowlands, J. McCarthy and J. Camp. A
GRACE global mascon solution focused on high latitude land ice evolution. (submitted July 2012 to J. Glaciology).



Kienholz, C., R. Hock and A. Arendt. A new tool for automated delineation of glacier flowbasins. (submitted Aug. 2012 to J. Glaciology)



Johnson, A., C. Larsen, N. Murphy, A. Arendt and S.L. Zirnheld. Estimating the mass
 balance of glaciers in the Glacier Bay area of Alaska and British Columbia. (reviewed in J. Glaciology, in revision.)