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Cumulative impacts of oil fields on northern Alaskan landscapes

January 1, 1987

Proposed further developments on Alaska's Arctic Coastal Plain raise questions about cumulative effects on arctic tundra ecosystems of development of multiple large oil fields. Maps of historical changes to the Prudhoe Bay Oil Field show indirect impacts can lag behind planned developments by many years and the total area eventually disturbed can greatly exceed the planned area of construction. For example, in the wettest parts of the oil field (flat thaw-lake plains), flooding and thermokarst covered more than twice the area directly affected by roads and other construction activities. Protecting critical wildlife habitat is the central issue for cumulative impact analysis in northern Alaska. Comprehensive landscape planning with the use of geographic information system technology and detailed geobotanical maps can help identify and protect areas of high wildlife use.

Citation Information

Publication Year 1987
Title Cumulative impacts of oil fields on northern Alaskan landscapes
DOI 10.1126/science.238.4828.757
Authors D.A. Walker, P.J. Webber, Emily F. Binnian, K.R. Everett, N.D. Lederer, E.A. Nordstrand, M.D. Walker
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Science
Series Number
Index ID 70184739
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Alaska Science Center