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: 169
Date published: April 26, 2018
Status: Active

Marine Ecosystems

The USGS conducts research on marine wildlife, habitats, and processes to provide science to inform our partners as they make decisions relative to species status, resource use, and human activities.

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 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

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report
Filter Total Items: 2,642
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Year Published: 2020

Bedrock geologic map of the 15' Sleetmute A-2 quadrangle, southwestern Alaska

Twelve unnamed, bedrock stratigraphic units are recognized within the Sleetmute A-2 1:63,360-scale quadrangle of southwestern Alaska. These units range in age from late(?) Proterozoic through Devonian and can be divided into two distinct facies belts: (1) a southern facies of dominantly shallow-water platform carbonate and minor siliciclastic...

Blodgett, Robert; Wilson, Frederic H.; Shew, Nora B.; Clough, James G.
Blodgett, R.B., Wilson, F.H., Shew, N.B., and Clough, J.G., 2020, Bedrock geologic map of the 15' Sleetmute A-2 quadrangle, southwestern Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3450, 18 p., 1 map sheet, scale 1:63,360, https://doi.org/10.3133/sim3450.

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Year Published: 2020

Shorebird research at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center

Shorebirds—which include sandpipers, plovers, and oystercatchers—are perhaps best known by their presence on sandy beaches, running along the water’s edge while they probe for food. But they are probably less recognized for their impressive long-distance migrations. Millions of individuals travel from across the globe to breed throughout Alaska...

Ruthrauff, Dan; Tibbitts, Lee; Pearce, John
Ruthrauff, D.R., Tibbitts, T.L., and Pearce, J.M., 2020, Shorebird research at the U.S. Geological Survey Alaska Science Center: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020-3056, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203056.

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Year Published: 2020

Migration routes and population status of the Brent Goose Branta bernicla nigricans wintering in East Asia

Of the world’s Brent Goose Branta bernicla populations, the migration routes and winter distribution of the East Asian population of Brent Geese B. b. nigricans are the least well known. We therefore marked Brent Geese at their primary pre-migratory staging area in Notsuke Bay, Hokkaido, Japan to describe their migration between breeding and...

Sawa, Yusuke; Tamura, Chieko; Ikeuchi, Toshio; Fujii, Kaoru; Ishioroshi, Aisa; Shimada, T.; Tatsuzawa, Shiro; Deng, Xueqin; Cao, Lei; Kim, Hwajung; Ward, David H.

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Year Published: 2020

Using hair cortisol to assess physiological stress in Alaska polar bears

The concentration of cortisol in hair (HCC) of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) may provide a retrospective view of physiological stress they experience and a link to their response to environmental change. To understand this relationship, we assayed HCC from polar bears captured in the Alaska Beaufort, Bering and Chukchi seas during 1983–1989 and...

Durner, George M.

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Year Published: 2020

Detection and assessment of a large and potentially‐tsunamigenic periglacial landslide in Barry Arm, Alaska

The retreat of glaciers in response to global warming has the potential to trigger landslides in glaciated regions around the globe. Landslides that enter fjords or lakes can cause tsunamis, which endanger people and infrastructure far from the landslide itself. Here we document the ongoing movement of an unstable slope (total volume of 455...

Dai, Chunli; Higman, Bretwood; Lynett, Patrick J.; Jacquemart, Mylène; Howat, Ian; Liljedahl, Anna K.; Dufresne, Anja; Freymueller, Jeffery T.; Geertsema, Marten; Jones, Melissa Ward; Haeussler, Peter

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Year Published: 2020

Isolation and characterization of microsatellite loci in merlins (Falco columbarius) and cross-species amplification in gyrfalcons (F. rusticolus) and peregrine falcons (F. peregrinus)

I. Background: Merlins, Falco columbarius, breed throughout temperate and high latitude habitats in Asia, Europe, and North America. Like peregrine falcons, F. peregrinus, merlins underwent population declines during the mid-to-late 20th century, due to organochlorine-based contamination, and have subsequently recovered, at least in North...

Hull, Joshua M.; Sage, George K.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Gravley, Megan C.; Martinico, Breanna L.; Booms, Travis L.; Swem, Ted; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Interaction between watershed features and climate forcing affects habitat profitability for juvenile salmon

Opportunities for growth and survival of aquatic organisms are spatially and temporally variable as habitat conditions across watersheds respond to interacting climatic, geomorphic, and hydrologic conditions. As conservation efforts often focus on identifying and protecting critical habitats, it is important to understand how this spatial and...

Walsworth, Timothy E.; Baldock, Jeffrey R; Zimmerman, Christian E.; Schindler, Daniel E.

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Year Published: 2020

QCam: sUAS-based doppler radar for measuring river discharge

The U.S. Geological Survey is actively investigating remote sensing of surface velocity and river discharge (discharge) from satellite-, high altitude-, small, unmanned aircraft systems- (sUAS or drone), and permanent (fixed) deployments. This initiative is important in ungaged basins and river reaches that lack the infrastructure to deploy...

Fulton, John W.; Anderson, Isaac E.; Chiu, C.-L.; Sommer, Wolfram; Adams, Josip; Moramarco, Tommaso; Bjerklie, David M.; Fulford, Janice M.; Sloan, Jeff L.; Best, Heather; Conaway, Jeffrey S.; Kang, Michelle J.; Kohn, Michael S.; Nicotra, Matthew J.; Pulli, Jeremy J.

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Year Published: 2020

Drivers of wildfire carbon emissions

Increasing fire frequency and severity may shift boreal forests from carbon sinks to carbon sources and amplify climate warming. Analysis indicates that that fuel characteristics are important drivers of wildfire carbon emissions across a broad range of North America’s boreal forest.

Loehman, Rachel A.

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Year Published: 2020

Imaging the tectonic grain of the Northern Cordillera orogen using Transportable Array receiver functions

Azimuthal variations in receiver function conversions can image lithospheric structural contrasts and anisotropic fabrics that together compose tectonic grain. We apply this method to data from EarthScope Transportable Array in Alaska and additional stations across the northern Cordillera. The best‐resolved quantities are the strike and depth of...

Schulte-Pelkum, Vera; Caine, Jonathan; Jones, James V.; Becker, Thorsten W

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Year Published: 2020

Four decades of land-cover change on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Detecting disturbance-influenced vegetation shifts using landsat legacy data

Across Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, disturbance events have removed large areas of forest over the last half century. Simultaneously, succession and landscape evolution have facilitated forest regrowth and expansion. Detecting forest loss within known pulse disturbance events is often straightforward given that reduction in tree cover is a readily...

Baughman, Carson; Loehman, Rachel A.; Magness, Dawn R.; Saperstein, Lisa; Sherriff, Rosemary L.

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Year Published: 2020

Can oceanic prey effects on growth and time to fledging mediate terrestrial predator limitation of an at‐risk seabird?

Most seabird species nest colonially on cliffs or islands with limited terrestrial predation, so that oceanic effects on the quality or quantity of prey fed to chicks more often determine nest success. However, when predator access increases, impacts can be dramatic, especially when exposure to predators is extended due to slow growth from...

Knudson, Timothy; Lovvorn, James R.; Lawonn, M. James; Corcoran, Robin; Roby, Dan; Piatt, John F.; Pyle, William

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: 984
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.

USGS researcher Erich Peitzsch holds a tree cross section to look for irregular rings.
December 31, 2018

Tree ring research in Alaska

USGS researcher Erich Peitzsch holds a tree cross section to look for irregular rings.

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

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.

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

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.

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 254
On top of North America!
July 23, 2015

A team of four climbers has recently returned from the highest point in North America with new survey data to determine a more precise summit height of Mount McKinley. It is anticipated the new elevation finding will be announced in late August.

Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Vessel Seen Through Bird Flock
July 16, 2015

The U.S. Geological Survey today released the North Pacific Pelagic Seabird Database — a massive online resource compiling the results of 40 years of surveys by biologists from the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia. The database documents the abundance and distribution of 160 seabird and 41 marine mammal species over a 10 million-square-mile region of the North Pacific.

Image: Long-Range Radar Station and Landfill
July 1, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In a new study published today, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey found that the remote northern Alaska coast has some of the highest shoreline erosion rates in the world. Analyzing over half a century of shoreline change data, scientists found the pattern is extremely variable with most of the coast retreating at rates of more than 1 meter a year.

Polar Bear Ecoregions: In the Seasonal Ice Ecoregion
June 30, 2015

Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models.

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.

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.