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  

Filter Total Items: 170
Date published: April 26, 2018
Status: Active

Hazards in Alaska

A major goal of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is to reduce the vulnerability of the people and areas most at risk from natural hazards. Working with partners throughout all sectors of society, the USGS provides information, products, and knowledge to help build more resilient communities. This site provides important links to a number of hazard related internet sites that provide important...

Date published: April 25, 2018
Status: Active

Arctic Lake Food Webs

From 2011 to 2013 we investigated freshwater food webs of Arctic Coastal Plain lakes in Alaska to improve our understanding how Arctic freshwater food webs may respond to landscape change the warmer, drier future.

Date published: April 25, 2018
Status: Active

Condition of Forage Fish in Prince William Sound During the Marine Heatwave

Changes in the body condition of a key forage fish species, Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus), are examined to understand how energy transfer to predators may have been disrupted during the recent marine heatwave in the North Pacific (late 2013 to mid 2016).

Date published: April 24, 2018
Status: Active

Ecosystem Shifts in Arctic Seas

In addition to the direct effects of sea ice loss on walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus) that use ice as a platform, the decline of Arctic sea ice is predicted to promote a fundamental ecosystem shift from benthic animals that forage on the sea floor to pelagic animals that forage near the sea surface. 

Date published: April 24, 2018
Status: Active

Lake Trout Biochronologies as Long-term Climate and Productivity Indicators in Alaska Lake Ecosystems

High latitude ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to long-term climate change, yet continuous, multidecadal indicators by which to gauge effects on biology are scarce, especially in freshwater environments.

Contacts: Vanessa von Biela, Ph.D., Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., Bryan Black, Randy J. Brown, Dan Young
Date published: April 19, 2018
Status: Active

Primary Production Sources and Bottom-up Limitations in Nearshore Ecosystems

Kelp forests are among the world’s most productive habitats, but recent evidence suggests that production is highly variable.

Contacts: James L Bodkin, Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., David Douglas, Gordon Kruse, Franz Mueter
Date published: April 18, 2018
Status: Active

Hydro-Ecology of Arctic Thawing (HEAT): Ecology

Permafrost thaw is leading to a myriad of changes in physical and chemical conditions throughout the Arctic.

Date published: April 18, 2018
Status: Active

Effect of Elodea spp. on Fish Performance Mediated Through Food Web Interactions

The potential for invasive species introductions in Arctic and Subarctic ecosystems is growing as climate change manifests and human activity increases in high latitudes.

Contacts: Michael P Carey, Ph.D., Suresh Andrew Sethi, Ph.D., Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., Dan Young, Gordon Reeves, Theresa Tanner
Date published: April 17, 2018
Status: Active

Sockeye Salmon Migrating at the Northern Edge of Their Distribution

The physiological challenge for anadromous fish to migrate upriver to spawn and complete their life cycle is influenced by river temperature.

Contacts: Michael P Carey, Ph.D., Stephen D McCormick, Amy Regish, Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., Kevin D. Keith, Merlyn Schelske, Charlie Lean
Date published: April 16, 2018
Status: Active

Nearshore Fish Surveys in the Beaufort Sea

Nearshore systems provide habitat to a unique community of marine and diadromous (lives in both fresh and saltwater) fish and support high fish abundance.

Date published: April 11, 2018
Status: Completed

Development and Validation of Hyperspectral Imager for Field and Lab Scanning

The Mineral Resources Program has advanced methods of imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral remote sensing) that are now used routinely by the earth science and remote sensing communities for mineral mapping, soil quality mapping, hazard mitigation, and other terrestrial and planetary applications. The USGS is highly qualified to advance this technology based on its world class expertise in...

Contacts: Raymond Kokaly
Date published: April 3, 2018
Status: Active

Assessing heat stress in migrating Yukon River Chinook Salmon

We will examine evidence of heat stress in Yukon River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) using heat shock proteins and gene expression.

USGS research activities relevant to Alaska have yielded more than 9400 historical publications. This page features some of the most recent newsworthy research findings.

Search USGS publications for Alaska

Arctic Science for Decision Maker

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report
Filter Total Items: 2,528
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Year Published: 2020

Cryptic and extensive hybridization between ancient lineages of American crows

Most species and therefore most hybrid zones have historically been defined using phenotypic characters. However, both speciation and hybridization can occur with negligible morphological differentiation. Recently developed genomic tools provide the means to better understand cryptic speciation and hybridization. The Northwestern Crow (Corvus...

Slager, David; Epperly, Kevin; Ha, Renee; Rohwer, Sievert; Woodall, Christopher W.; Van Hemert, Caroline R.; Klicka, John

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Year Published: 2020

Are migratory waterfowl vectors of seagrass pathogens?

Migratory waterfowl vector plant seeds and other tissues, but little attention has focused on the potential of avian vectoring of plant pathogens. Extensive meadows of eelgrass (Zostera marina) in southwest Alaska support hundreds of thousands of waterfowl during fall migration and may be susceptible to plant pathogens. We recovered DNA of...

Menning, Damian M.; Ward, David H.; Wyllie-Echeverria, Sandy; Sage, Kevin; Gravley, Megan C.; Gravley, Hunter; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Conservation genomics in a changing arctic

Although logistically challenging to study, the Arctic is a bellwether for global change and is becoming a model for questions pertinent to the persistence of biodiversity. Disruption of Arctic ecosystems is accelerating, with impacts ranging from mixing of biotic communities to individual behavioral responses. Understanding these changes is...

Colella, Jocelyn P.; Talbot, Sandra L.; Brochmann, Christian; Taylor, Eric B.; Hoberg, Eric P.; Cook, Joseph A.

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Year Published: 2020

Extending seasonal discharge records for streamgage sites on the North Fork Fortymile and Middle Fork Fortymile Rivers, Alaska, through water year 2019

Daily mean discharge values were estimated for May 20–September 30 for 1976–82 and 2006–18 for the U.S. Geological Survey North Fork Fortymile River and Middle Fork Fortymile River streamgage sites in Alaska. A relation between study streamgage discharge and discharge for an index streamgage on the main-stem Fortymile River for a concurrent period...

Curran, Janet H.
Curran, J.H., 2020, Extending seasonal discharge records for streamgage sites on the North Fork Fortymile and Middle Fork Fortymile Rivers, Alaska, through water year 2019: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5003, 11 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205003.

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Year Published: 2020

Multi-decadal patterns of vegetation succession after tundra fire on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska

Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is one of the warmest parts of the Arctic tundra biome and tundra fires are common in its upland areas. Here we combine field measurements, Landsat observations, and quantitative cover maps for tundra plant functional types (PFTs) to characterize multi-decadal succession and landscape change after fire in...

Frost, Gerald; Loehman, Rachel A.; Saperstein, Lisa; Macander, Matthew J.; Nelson, Peter; Paradis, David; Natali, Sue M.

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Year Published: 2020

Simulation modeling of complex climate, wildfire, and vegetation dynamics to address wicked problems in land management

Complex, reciprocal interactions among climate, disturbance, and vegetation dramatically alter spatial landscape patterns and influence ecosystem dynamics. As climate and disturbance regimes shift, historical analogs and past empirical studies may not be entirely appropriate as templates for future management. The need for a better understanding...

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

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Year Published: 2020

Fatty acid-based diet estimates suggest ringed seal remain the main prey of southern Beaufort Sea polar bears despite recent use of onshore food resources

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the southern Beaufort Sea (SB) subpopulation have traditionally fed predominantly upon ice‐seals; however, as the proportion of the subpopulation using onshore habitat has recently increased, foraging on land‐based resources, including remains of subsistence‐harvested bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and...

Bourque, Jennifer; Atwood, Todd C.; Divoky, George J.; Stewart, Connie; McKinney, Melissa A.

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Year Published: 2020

Catalogue of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal den locations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and nearby areas, 1910–2018

This report presents data on the approximate locations and methods of discovery of 530 polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal dens observed in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and neighboring areas from 1910 to 2018, and archived partly by the U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, and partly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine...

Durner, George M.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Atwood, Todd C.; Douglas, David C.; Fischbach, Anthony S.; Olson, Jay W.; Rode, Karyn D.; Wilson, Ryan R.
Durner, G.M., Amstrup, S.C., Atwood, T.C., Douglas, D.C., Fischbach, A.S., Olson, J.W., Rode, K.D., and Wilson, R.R., 2020, Catalogue of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal den locations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and nearby areas, 1910–2018: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1121, 12 p., including appendixes, https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1121. [Supersedes USGS Data Series 568.]

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Year Published: 2020

The clock keeps ticking: Circadian rhythms of free-ranging polar bears

Life in the Arctic presents organisms with multiple challenges, including extreme photic conditions, cold temperatures, and annual loss and daily movement of sea ice. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) evolved under these unique conditions, where they rely on ice to hunt their main prey, seals. However, very little is known about the dynamics of their...

Ware, Jasmine V.; Rode, Karyn D.; Robbins, Charles T.; Leise, T.; Weil, C.R.; Jansen, Heiko T.

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Year Published: 2020

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Central North Slope of Alaska, 2020

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 3.6 billion barrels of oil and 8.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (associated and nonassociated) in conventional accumulations in Mississippian through Paleogene strata in the central North Slope...

Houseknecht, David W.; Whidden, Katherine J.; Connors, Christopher D.; Lease, Richard O.; Schenk, Christopher J.; Mercier, Tracey J.; Rouse, William A.; Botterell, Palma J.; Smith, Rebecca A.; Sanders, Margaret M.; Craddock, William H.; DeVera, Christina A.; Garrity, Christopher P.; Buursink, Marc L.; Karacan, Cevat O.; Heller, Samuel J.; Moore, Thomas E.; Dumoulin, Julie A.; Tennyson, Marilyn E.; French, Katherine L.; Woodall, Cheryl A.; Drake, Ronald M.; Marra, Kristen R.; Finn, Thomas M.; Kinney, Scott A.; Shorten, Chilisa M.
Houseknecht, D.W., Whidden, K.J., Connors, C.D., Lease, R.O., Schenk, C.J., Mercier, T.J., Rouse, W.A., Botterell, P.J., Smith, R.A., Sanders, M.M., Craddock, W.H., DeVera, C.A., Garrity, C.P., Buursink, M.L., Karacan, C.O., Heller, S.J., Moore, T.E., Dumoulin, J.A., Tennyson, M.E., French, K.L., Woodall, C.A., Drake, R.M., II, Marra, K.R., Finn, T.M., Kinney, S.A., and Shorten, C.M., 2020, Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the central North Slope of Alaska, 2020: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020–3001, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203001.

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Year Published: 2020

Genetic confirmation of a natural hybrid between a Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and a Cooper’s Hawk (A. cooperii)

Although hybrids between captive Accipiter species are known, and hybrids between wild Accipiter species in North America have long been suspected, none have been confirmed to date. However, in 2014, a hatching year Accipiter captured at Cape May, New Jersey, during fall migration, appeared intermediate in size and plumage between a Northern...

Haughey, Christy; Nelson, Arthur; Napier, Paul; Rosenfield, R. N.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Extreme mortality and reproductive failure of common murres resulting from the northeast Pacific marine heatwave of 2014-2016

About 62,000 dead or dying common murres (Uria aalge), the trophically dominant fish-eating seabird of the North Pacific, washed ashore between summer 2015 and spring 2016 on beaches from California to Alaska. Most birds were severely emaciated and, so far, no evidence for anything other than starvation was found to explain this mass mortality....

Piatt, John F.; Parrish, Julia K.; Renner, Heather M.; Schoen, Sarah K.; Jones, Timothy; Arimitsu, Mayumi L.; Kuletz, Kathy J.; Bodenstein, Barbara; Garcia-Reyes, Marisol; Duerr, Rebecca; Corcoran, Robin; Kaler, Robb S.A.; McChesney, Gerard J.; Golightly, Richard T.; Coletti, Heather A.; Suryan, Robert M.; Burgess, Hillary K.; Lindsey, Jackie; Lindquist, Kirsten; Warzybok, Peter; Jahncke, Jaime; Roletto, Jan; Sydeman, William J.

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!

Filter Total Items: 988
December 31, 2018

Polar Bears Film Their Own Sea Ice World

This video showcases the latest polar bear point-of-view footage to date along with an interview of the research scientist who is responsible for the project. Released in conjunction with a new scientific study led by the USGS. 
 

Scientist extract a sediment core from the permafrost plateaus in Alaska
December 31, 2018

Collecting Cores in Thawing Permafrost, Alaska

Cores were collected from various areas of thawing permafrost-peatlands in Alaska. Permafrost thaw results in ground subsidence and inundation that kills black spruce and other understory plants living on the permafrost plateau. 

house next to landslide with snowcovered ground
December 31, 2018

Landslide near Potter Hill, Anchorage, Alaska

Landslide near Potter Hill, Anchorage, Alaska, after 2018 Anchorage earthquake.

December 20, 2018

Image of the Week - Letters to the North Pole

Unlike the South Pole, the geographic North Pole does not lie on a land mass. The Earth’s northern axis of rotation is in the Arctic Ocean, covered by shifting sea ice.

Landsat does not image the North Pole, which makes it an imperfect investigative tool for the detection of Santa’s workshop. 

It does, however, collect imagery over North Pole, Alaska, a small

December 13, 2018

Aquatic Ecosystem Vulnerability to Fire and Climate Change

Fire is the dominant ecological disturbance process in boreal forests (coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruces, and larches) and fire frequency, size and severity are increasing in Alaska owing to climate warming. However, interactions among fire, climate, permafrost, vegetation and hydrologic and watershed processes are poorly understood, yet critical for

2018 Potter Hill landslide 2, Anchorage, AK
December 7, 2018

2018 Potter Hill landslide 2, Anchorage, AK

Landslide from bluff below rail grade north of Rabbit Creek. Main scarp of slump/flow slide at Potter Hill. Railroad grade is to the left, tidal flat to the right. Note ponded drainage and disrupted slide material.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Chugiak extensional cracks, Chugiak, AK
December 5, 2018

Chugiak extensional cracks, Chugiak, AK

Extensional cracking and settling around private residence in Chugiak.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Ground crack at Sunset Park, Anchorage, AK
December 4, 2018

Ground crack at Sunset Park, Anchorage, AK

Crack observed in 2018 along headscarp of 1964 Government Hill landslide.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

2018 Potter Hill landslide 1, Anchorage, AK
December 1, 2018

2018 Potter Hill landslide 1, Anchorage, AK

Slumping along the Alaska Railroad right-of-way evolved into long-runout landslides. The same area failed in earthquakes in 1954 and 1964.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Eagle River landslides, Eagle River, AK
December 1, 2018

Eagle River landslides, Eagle River, AK

Superficial slides along Eagle River east of Eagle River Loop Road. 

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Eklutna Dam after 2018 Anchorage earthquake
December 1, 2018

Eklutna Dam after 2018 Anchorage earthquake

Eklutna Lake dam appeared to be undamaged the day after the earthquake; overflights of the lake showed no landslides impacted the lake shoreline.

November 30, 2018

Shaking of Frontier Building, M7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage Quake

This video presents a visualization of how the Frontier Building in Anchorage, Alaska, shook during the moment magnitude (Mw) 7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake. The building was instrumented by U.S. Geological Survey to obtain data to study its behavior and performance during strong shaking. Such data are useful in making decisions about improving the

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

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 252
Mount McKinley landscape
June 15, 2015

A new GPS survey of Mount McKinley, the highest point in North America, will update the commonly accepted elevation of McKinley’s peak, 20,320 ft. The last survey was completed in 1953.

USGS science for a changing world logo
June 8, 2015

North America may have once been attached to Australia, according to research just published in Lithosphere and spearheaded by U.S. Geological Survey geologist James Jones and his colleagues at Bucknell University and Colorado School of Mines.

Map of basement domains
April 23, 2015

A map showing the many different pieces of Earth’s crust that comprise the nation’s geologic basement is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS
April 8, 2015

A new scientific synthesis suggests a gradual, prolonged release of greenhouse gases from permafrost soils in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, which may afford society more time to adapt to environmental changes, say scientists in a paper published in Nature today. 

Image: Polar Bear at Rest
April 1, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries, birds and eggs, but any nutritional gains are limited to a few individuals and likely cannot compensate for lost opportunities to consume their traditional, lipid-rich prey—ice seals.

Illustration showing migratory bird paths across the Pacific
March 31, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In a new study published today, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service harnessed a new type of DNA technology to investigate avian influenza viruses in Alaska.

USGS
March 18, 2015

Frozen bodies of ice cover nearly 10 percent of the state of Alaska, but the influence of glaciers on the environment, tourism, fisheries, hydropower, and other important Alaska resources is rarely discussed.

USGS
February 24, 2015

Kristin Timm, a designer with the Interior Department's Alaska Climate Science Center and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Scenarios Network for Alaska and Arctic Planning, is among 10 designers who were recently recognized internationally for excellence in science communication.

Estimated potential for rare earth element (REE) deposits in watersheds across northern Alaska
February 23, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska. — New maps highlighting areas with potential for placer gold and five other critical mineral deposit types in the Bureau of Land Management’s Central Yukon Planning Area in central and northern Alaska are being released today. 

Three panel view of Alaska from NLCD
February 18, 2015

The latest edition of the National Land Cover Dataset (NLCD 2011) for Alaska is now publicly available.

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.