Unified Interior Regions

Region 11: Alaska

Alaska Science Center

Alaska Science Center

4210 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7000

View Center Website

Volcano Science Center

Volcano Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7497

View Center Website

Climate Adaptation Science Center

Climate Adaptation Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: 907-301-7830

View Center Website

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USGS in Alaska engages approximately 400 scientists and support staff working across 3 major centers with a combined annual science budget of about $65 million. In just the last 5 years, USGS in Alaska has produced scientific benefits resulting from over 1000 publications and about 250 Technical Reports.

USGS publications for Alaska

Alaska Science Portal

AK CASC Projects

Alaska Volcano Observatory  

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John Reed (USGS scientist) holding a gull marked with a satellite transmitter at the Soldotna landfill in June 2016
Date Published: August 21, 2018
Status: Active

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Migratory Birds

Migratory birds, and particularly those using habitats close to human settlements, may be infected with antibiotic resistant bacteria.  The USGS is working with public health professionals to understand the role of birds in the maintenance and dispersal of antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Additionally, the USGS is investigating how antibiotic resistant bacteria in birds may relate to public and...

A solitary tree trunk stands amongst the devastation of the 2011 fire in Great Dismal Swamp, VA.
Date Published: August 20, 2018
Status: Active

Wetlands in the Quaternary Project

Wetlands accumulate organic-rich sediment or peat stratigraphically, making them great archives of past environmental change. Wetlands also act as hydrologic buffers on the landscape and are important to global biogeochemical cycling. This project uses wetland archives from a range of environments to better understand how vegetation, hydrology, and hydroclimate has changed on decadal to multi-...

A Black-capped Chickadee with a beak that has grown long and curved down
Date Published: August 20, 2018
Status: Active

Species Affected by Beak Deformities

At least 30 Alaskan bird species are affected and the geographic extent of the problem appears to be growing.  In addition to Alaskan observations, we have received increasing numbers of reports from other parts of North America and Europe.

Small bird with a crossed beak on a branch
Date Published: August 19, 2018
Status: Active

Physical Description of Beak Deformities

The most commonly observed physical abnormalities among Alaskan birds are overgrown or crossed beaks.  The severity of the deformities varies, ranging from a nearly indiscernible “overbite” to beaks that are more than double their normal length.  The upper and lower parts of the beak are also frequently crossed or gapped.

A small bird in a tree with a really curved beak
Date Published: August 18, 2018
Status: Active

Prevalence, Distribution and Timing of Beak Deformities in Birds

The rates of beak deformities documented in Black-capped Chickadees and Northwestern Crows in Alaska are the highest ever recorded within a wild bird population anywhere.

Small bird with long beak
Date Published: August 17, 2018
Status: Active

Beak Deformity's Effects on Birds

Birds with beak deformities often have difficulty foraging and preening, and may not be able to keep themselves warm and well-fed during cold winter months.  Although some birds with beak deformities breed successfully, they typically encounter more challenges than normal birds.

A little gray bird
Date Published: August 16, 2018
Status: Active

Possible Causes for Beak Deformities

Beak deformities can be caused by a variety of factors, including contaminants, nutritional deficiencies, disease, parasites, blunt trauma, or genetic abnormalities. We recently identified a novel picornavirus (Poecivirus) in Black-capped Chickadees with avian keratin disorder (AKD). Our results suggest that Poecivirus is the most likely factor responsible for beak deformities in Alaskan birds...

A Black-capped Chickadee with a beak that has grown long and crossed
Date Published: August 15, 2018
Status: Active

Literature Cited for Beak Deformities

Literature Cited in the Beak Deformity web pages

A Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler with a deformed beak sitting in a tree in Cape May, New Jersey
Date Published: August 14, 2018
Status: Active

Links Related to Beak Deformity Research

Links, videos and news articles related to beak deformity research

Caribou grazing near the Dalton Highway in the northern part of Alaska.
Date Published: August 13, 2018
Status: Active

Changing Arctic Ecosystems

The USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative will enhance the long-term science foundation needed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and other partners.

A Yellow-billed Loon swimming in a small lake
Date Published: August 10, 2018
Status: Active

Loon Research

Scientists at the USGS Alaska Science Center have conducted research on Alaska’s three loon species since the late 1970s. Loons rely on freshwater lakes for nesting habitat and fish and invertebrates inhabiting lakes and marine ecosystems for food. All three loon species in Alaska occur within the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) on Alaska’s northern coast. Research by the USGS is...

Lowe River Flood outside of Valdez, Alaska
Date Published: August 8, 2018
Status: Active

Streambed Scour at Bridges in Alaska

Streambed scour is the leading cause of bridge failure in the United States resulting in over 60 percent of all failures. The Alaska Science Center, in cooperation with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities and the Alaska Railroad, is researching streambed scour through scour monitoring, hydraulic modeling, and data collection during high flows.  

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Year Published: 2019

Global phylodynamic analysis of avian paramyxovirus-1 provides evidence of inter-host transmission and intercontinental spatial diffusion

BackgroundAvian avulavirus (commonly known as avian paramyxovirus-1 or APMV-1) can cause disease of varying severity in both domestic and wild birds. Understanding how viruses move among hosts and geography would be useful for informing prevention and control efforts. A Bayesian statistical framework was employed to estimate the evolutionary...

Hicks, Joseph T.; Dimitrov, Kiril M.; Afonso, Claudio L.; Ramey, Andrew M.; Bahl, Justin

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Year Published: 2019

Evidence of Culiseta mosquitoes as vectors for Plasmodium parasites in Alaska

Mosquito vectors play a crucial role in the distribution of avian Plasmodium parasites worldwide. At northern latitudes, where climate warming is most pronounced, there are questions about possible changes in the abundance and distribution of Plasmodium parasites, their vectors, and their impacts to avian hosts. To better...

Smith, Matthew M.; Van Hemert, Caroline R.; Handel, Colleen M.

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Year Published: 2019

Emperor geese (Anser canagicus) are exposed to a diversity of influenza A viruses, are infected during the non-breeding period and contribute to intercontinental viral dispersal

Emperor geese (Anser canagicus) are endemic to coastal areas within Beringia and have previously been found to have antibodies to or to be infected with influenza A viruses (IAVs) in Alaska. In this study, we use virological, serological and tracking data to further elucidate the role of emperor geese in the ecology of IAVs in Beringia during the...

Ramey, Andrew M.; Uher-Koch, Brian D.; Reeves, Andrew B.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Poulson, Rebecca L.; Stallknecht, David E.

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Year Published: 2019

Monitoring long-term changes in forage fish distribution, abundance and body condition

We collected data on forage fish abundance, distribution and body condition in Prince William Sound, Alaska during summers in 2012 through 2016. This included acoustic – trawl surveys, aerial-acoustic surveys, opportunistic sampling where we encountered forage aggregations, and concurrent measurements of forage fish habitat. Acoustic indices of...

Arimitsu, Mayumi L.; Piatt, John F.

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Year Published: 2019

Selecting a landscape model for natural resource management applications

Purpose of Review: Climate change and associated ecological impacts have challenged many conventional, observation-based approaches for predicting ecosystem and landscape responses to natural resource management. Complex spatial ecological models provide powerful, flexible tools which managers and others can use to make inferences about management...

Keane, Robert E.; Loehman, Rachel A.; Holsinger, Lisa M.

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Year Published: 2019

Remote sensing of river flow in Alaska—New technology to improve safety and expand coverage of USGS streamgaging

The U.S. Geological Survey monitors water level (water surface elevation relative to an arbitrary datum) and measures streamflow in Alaska rivers to compute and compile river flow records for use by water resource planners, engineers, and land managers to design infrastructure, manage floodplains, and protect life, property, and aquatic resources...

Conaway, Jeff; Eggleston, John R.; Legleiter, Carl J.; Jones, John W.; Kinzel, Paul J.; Fulton, John W.
Conaway, J.S., Eggleston, J., Legleiter, C.J., Jones, J.W., Kinzel, P.J., and Fulton, J.W., 2019, Remote sensing of river flow in Alaska—New technology to improve safety and expand coverage of USGS streamgaging: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2019-3024, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20193024.

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Year Published: 2019

Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms for use in a genetic stock identification system for greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) subspecies wintering in California

California provides wintering habitat for most greater white-fronted geese (Anser albifrons [GWFG]) in the Pacific Flyway and this population has rapidly increased since the 1980s. Increased harvest of GWFG wintering in California may prevent agricultural depredation while providing increased hunting opportunities. However, changes in harvest...

Wilson, Robert E.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; DaCosta, Jeffrey M.; Ely, Craig R.; Sorenson, Michael D.; Talbot, Sandra L.
Wilson, R.E., Sonsthagen, S.A., DaCosta, J.M., Ely, C.R., Sorenson, M.D., and Talbot, S.L., 2019, Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms for use in a genetic stock identification system for greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons) subspecies wintering in California: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019-1040, 18 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191040.

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Year Published: 2019

Cloud cover and delayed herbivory relative to timing of spring onset interact to dampen climate change impacts on net ecosystem exchange in a coastal Alaskan wetland

Rapid warming in northern ecosystems over the past four decades has resulted in earlier spring, increased precipitation, and altered timing of plant–animal interactions, such as herbivory. Advanced spring phenology can lead to longer growing seasons and increased carbon (C) uptake. Greater precipitation coincides with greater cloud cover possibly...

Leffler, Josh; Beard, Karen H.; Kelsey, Katharine C.; Choi, Ryan T.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Welker, Jeffrey

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Year Published: 2019

Monitoring annual trends in abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2018

A lagoon-wide, point-sampling survey of eelgrass (Zostera marina) abundance was conducted in Izembek Lagoon, Alaska, August 7–16, 2018, the ninth year of annual surveys (2007–11, 2015–18). Mean predicted aboveground biomass of eelgrass across 116 sampled points was 238 grams per square meter (g m-2) (95 percent confidence interval: 203–278 g m-2)...

Ward, David H.; Amundson, Courtney L.
Ward, D.H., and Amundson, C.L., 2019, Monitoring annual trends in abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2018: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019-1042, 8 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191042.

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Year Published: 2019

Phenological mismatch between season advancement and migration timing alters Arctic plant traits

1. Climate change is creating phenological mismatches between herbivores and their plant resources throughout the Arctic. While advancing growing seasons and changing arrival times of migratory herbivores has been shown to have consequences for herbivores and forage quality, developing mismatches are also likely to influence other traits of plants...

Choi, Ryan T.; Beard, Karen H.; Leffler, A. Joshua; Kelsey, Katharine C.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Welker, Jeffrey

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Year Published: 2019

Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan, Version III

In recognition of declines among perhaps half of Alaska’s breeding shorebirds, ongoing or emerging threats to shorebirds and their habitats, and considerable knowledge of Alaska’s shorebirds acquired over the past decade, the Alaska Shorebird Group decided that the Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan was due for updates. Similar to Version II (2008...

Ruthrauff, Daniel R.
Alaska Shorebird Group. 2019. Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan. Version III. Alaska Shorebird Group, Anchorage, AK, https://www.fws.gov/alaska/mbsp/mbm/shorebirds/plans.htm

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Year Published: 2019

Satellite tracking of gulls and genomic characterization of fecal bacteria reveals environmentally mediated acquisition and dispersal of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Gulls (Larus spp.) have frequently been reported to carry Escherichia coli exhibiting antimicrobial resistance (AMR E. coli); however, the pathways governing the acquisition and dispersal of such bacteria are not well-described. We equipped 17 landfill-foraging gulls with satellite transmitters and collected gull fecal samples longitudinally from...

Ahlstrom, Christina; Bonnedahl, Jonas; Woksepp, Hanna; Hernandez, Jorge; Reed, John; Tibbitts, Lee; Olsen, Björn; Douglas, David C.; Ramey, Andrew M.

Browse a selection of videos, audio clips, images, and more from a wide range of science topics covered by USGS!

"Science for a Changing World" - watch the short film here!

Documentary on walruses here!

Watch the first-ever footage of a polar bear on Arctic sea ice!

Join USGS geologists as they collect lava samples from Kilauea Volcano.

Watch researchers in the Arctic!

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Kashwitna River bridge debris
May 13, 2019

Kashwitna River bridge debris

Kashwitna River bridge debris

Kashwitna River bridge
May 7, 2019

Kashwitna River bridge

Kashwitna River bridge

Canning River with bars
April 27, 2019

Canning River with bars

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Michael Carey and Vanessa von Biela on Canning River
April 27, 2019

Michael Carey and Vanessa von Biela on Canning River

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Hole in the ice from an auger
April 27, 2019

Hole in the ice from an auger on Canning River

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

April 27, 2019

Under Ice Habitat in Canning River Delta

In the Arctic, rivers are often thought to freeze completely during winter. Since fish need liquid water to survive, there are few places where they can live. Fish usually inhabit deep river channels and areas where springwater enters a stream. However, this video shows that winter habitat occurs in places we didn't expect, below the ice in the delta of a shallow river. 

...
Lowering minnow trap to fish
April 27, 2019

Lowering minnow trap to fish

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Minnow trap in icehole
April 27, 2019

Minnow trap in icehole

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Shublik Spring open water
April 27, 2019

Shublik Spring open water

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Canning River with bars view
April 26, 2019

Canning River with bars view

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Vanessa von Biela with cut bank at Canning River
April 25, 2019

Vanessa von Biela with cut bank at Canning River

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Copper River sonar on a bridge
April 24, 2019

Copper River sonar on a bridge

Copper River sonar on a bridge

Browse a collection of stories about prominent USGS scientists and projects in Alaska news.

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 244
Permafrost area, Beaver Creek, Alaska.
June 20, 2016

The thawing of the planet’s permafrost is replumbing arctic environments, creating several hydrologic consequences and possibly some opportunities according to a new study published in Vadose Zone.

satellite image of brown resuspended volcanic ash cloud over Kodiak Island, Alaska
April 25, 2016

Two public events are scheduled next week in the City of Kodiak, Alaska about monitoring old volcanic ash resuspended by high winds. Scientists invite the local community to learn more about the potential impacts of resuspended volcanic ash and how to assist in volcano hazards research by collecting samples of the redistributed volcanic ash and dust.

USGS
April 20, 2016

You really are what you eat. That’s the taking-off point for a new polar bear study, conducted by U.S. Geological Survey researchers with an assist from the Oregon Zoo — and published this week in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. 

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
April 5, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The U.S. Geological Survey released additional evidence that western Alaska remains a hot spot for avian influenza to enter North America. 

Image: Michelle Coombs
April 4, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to announce the selection of Dr. Michelle Coombs as the next Scientist-in-Charge of the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a cooperative program of the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

Suzette Kimball, Director of the U.S. Geological Survey presenting award to Nicholas Mastrodicasa
March 15, 2016

To commemorate the nation's first chief geographer, the USGS established the Henry Gannett Award. This year's recipient is Nicholas Mastrodicasa, Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, for his leadership in the Alaska Statewide Digital Mapping Initiative and the development of an elevation requirements study for Alaska.

Aerial view of the Chenega village site at the head of Chenega Cove.
February 1, 2016

Minutes after the 1964 magnitude-9.2 Great Alaska Earthquake began shaking, a series of tsunami waves swept through the village of Chenega in Prince William Sound, destroying all but two of the buildings and killing 23 of the 75 inhabitants. 

Image: USGS Scientists Engaged in Field Work on the Aleutian Islands
January 12, 2016

New evidence for frequent large tsunamis at a remote island near Dutch Harbor, Alaska provides geological data to aid tsunami hazard preparedness efforts around the Pacific Rim. 

Alaska Geologic Map
January 5, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – A new digital geologic map of Alaska is being released today providing land users, managers and scientists geologic information for the evaluation of land use in relation to resource extraction, conservation, natural hazards and recreation.

Stay up-to-date with what is happening in the Alaska Region by checking out our different social media accounts. You can also contact Alaska Regional Office staff or Center Directors for more information.

The Regional Office provides active input to a variety of external collaborations by:

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