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: January 10, 2018
Status: Active

USGS Research Vessel Alaskan Gyre

The R/V Alaskan Gyre is a 50-foot fiberglass seiner that has been converted into a versatile research vessel to provide USGS scientists and collaborators with access to remote marine areas of Alaska and serve as a mobile laboratory.  The vessel was built by Ledford Marine of Marysville, Washington in 1989 and is named after the Alaskan Gyre, a series of wind driven currents that...

Date published: December 18, 2017
Status: Active

Polar Bear Maternal Denning

Pregnant polar bears enter maternity dens in October/November, give birth to cubs in December/January, and exit dens in March/April. Historically, most polar bears from the Southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) population constructed maternity dens on the sea ice.  Over the last three decades, as sea ice has become thinner and prone to fragmentation, there has been a landward shift in the distribution...

Date published: December 15, 2017
Status: Active

Distribution and Movements of Polar Bears

Polar bears are tied to the sea ice for nearly all of their life cycle functions. Most important of these is foraging, or access to food. Polar bears almost exclusively eat seals, and they are equally as dependent upon the sea for their nutrition as are seals, whales, and other aquatic mammals. Polar bears are not aquatic, however, and their only access to the seals is from the surface of the...

Date published: December 15, 2017
Status: Active

Polar Bear Population Dynamics

Information on the status and trends of polar bear populations are needed to inform management of polar bears under US laws and international agreements. The USGS maintains a long-term research program focused on the population dynamics of the southern Beaufort Sea polar bear population.  In addition, the USGS collaborates with the US Fish and Wildlife Service in population studies in the...

Date published: December 15, 2017
Status: Active

Health and Energetics of Polar Bears

Research in this focal area is centered on (i) collecting data on a variety of systems that help determine and mediate polar bear health and energetics, and (ii) developing monitoring and surveillance programs for detecting changes in population health over time. Additionally, this work will allow us to develop an understanding of how polar bear populations will respond to a variety of...

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Chilkat River

Chilkat River is one of the transboundary watersheds of Southeast Alaska.

Contacts: Jeff Conaway
Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Alsek River

The Alsek River is the furthest north watershed in the transboundary study of Southeast Alaska, reaching 300 miles north of Haines Junction, Yukon Territory.

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Super Gages and Water Quality Sampling

Super gages provide real-time data specifically designed to improve understanding of watershed processes and to address specific water-resource issues such as climate and land-use effects or hazardous substance spills.

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Stikine River

The Stikine River near Wrangell and Petersburg is the largest watershed in the transboundary study of Southeast Alaska.

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Taku River

Adverse water quality from a trio of historic mines in the Tulsequah River watershed, a tributary of the Taku River, have caused concern in local communities including Juneau, Alaska, and Atlin, British Columbia

Date published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Salmon River

The Salmon River, located near Hyder, Alaska, and Stewart, British Columbia, is the smallest watershed in the transboundary study of Southeast Alaska.

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: 2,661
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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

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Year Published: 2020

High site fidelity does not equate to population genetic structure for common goldeneye and Barrow's goldeneye in North America

Delineation of population structure provides valuable information for conservation and management of species, as levels of demographic and genetic connectivity not only affect population dynamics but also have important implications for adaptability and resiliency of populations and species. Here, we measure population genetic structure and...

Brown, Joshua I.; Lavretsky, Philip; Wilson, Robert E.; Haughey, Christy; Boyd, W Sean; Esler, Daniel N.; Talbot, Sandra L.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.

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Year Published: 2020

Analyses on subpopulation abundance and annual number of maternal dens for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea, Alaska

The long-term persistence of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) is threatened by sea-ice loss due to climate change, which is concurrently providing an opportunity in the Arctic for increased anthropogenic activities including natural resource extraction. Mitigating the risk of those activities, which can adversely affect the population dynamics of the...

Atwood, Todd C.; Bromaghin, Jeffrey F.; Patil, Vijay P.; Durner, George M.; Douglas, David C.; Simac, Kristin S.
Atwood, T.C., Bromaghin, J.F., Patil, V.P., Durner, G.M., Douglas, D.C., and Simac, K.S., 2020, Analyses on subpopulation abundance and annual number of maternal dens for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020-1087, 16 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201087.

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Year Published: 2020

Comparative genomics and genomic epidemiology of mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis strains

Two phenotypically distinct strains of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) were recognized in the 1930s but it was not until the introduction of restriction endonuclease analysis (REA) in the mid-1980s that these two strains, MAP-C and MAP-S, could be distinguished genetically. Since then, a plethora of molecular typing techniques...

Stevenson, Karen; Ahlstrom, Christina

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Year Published: 2020

Reliability of external characteristics to age Barrow’s goldeneye

Accurate assignment of age class is critical for understanding most demographic processes. For waterfowl, most techniques for determining age class require birds in hand, reducing utility for quickly and efficiently sampling a large portion of the population. As an alternative, we sought to establish an observation‐based methodology, achievable in...

Lewis, Tyler L.; Esler, Daniel N.; Hogan, Danica H.; Boyd, W Sean; Bowman, Timothy D.; Thompson, Jonathan

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Year Published: 2020

Unfamiliar territory: Emerging themes for ecological drought research and management

Novel forms of drought are emerging globally, due to climate change, shifting teleconnection patterns, expanding human water use, and a history of human influence on the environment that increases the probability of transformational ecological impacts. These costly ecological impacts cascade to human communities, and understanding this changing...

Crausbay, Shelley D.; Betancourt, Julio L.; Bradford, John; Cartwright, Jennifer M.; Dennison, William C.; Dunham, Jason B.; Enquist, Carolyn Armstrong; Frazier, Abby G. ; Hall, Kimberly R.; Littell, Jeremy S.; Luce, Charlie H.; Palmer, Richard; Ramirez, Aaron R.; Rangwala, Imtiaz; Thompson, Laura; Walsh, Brianne M.; Carter, Shawn

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Year Published: 2020

Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic resources of 11 critical minerals in Alaska—Aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, tantalum, tin, titanium, and tungsten, chap. C of U.S. Geological Survey, Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic sources of critical minerals

Phase 2 of the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) focuses on geologic belts that are favorable for hosting mineral systems that may contain select critical minerals. Phase 1 of the Earth MRI program focused on rare earth elements (REE), and phase 2 adds aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum-group metals, tantalum, tin...

Kreiner, Douglas C.; Jones, James V.
Kreiner, D.C., and Jones, J.V., 2020, Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic resources of 11 critical minerals in Alaska—Aluminum, cobalt, graphite, lithium, niobium, platinum group elements, rare earth elements, tantalum, tin, titanium, and tungsten, chap. C of U.S. Geological Survey, Focus areas for data acquisition for potential domestic sources of critical minerals: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019–1023, 20 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191023C.

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Year Published: 2020

A manipulative thermal challenge protocol for adult salmonids in remote field settings

Manipulative experiments provide stronger evidence for identifying cause-and-effect relationships than correlative studies, but protocols for implementing temperature manipulations are lacking for large species in remote settings. We developed an experimental protocol for holding adult Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and exposing them to...

Donnelly, Daniel S.; von Biela, Vanessa R.; McCormick, Stephen D.; Laske, Sarah M.; Carey, Michael P.; Waters, Shannon C.; Bowen, Lizabeth; Brown, Randy J; Larson, Sean; Zimmerman, Christian E.

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Year Published: 2020

Transcriptomic response to elevated water temperatures in adult migrating Yukon River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)

Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) declines are widespread and may be attributed, at least in part, to warming river temperatures. Water temperatures in the Yukon River and tributaries often exceed 18°C, a threshold commonly associated with heat stress and elevated mortality in Pacific salmon. Untangling the complex web of direct and...

Bowen, Lizabeth; von Biela, Vanessa R.; McCormick, Stephen D.; Regish, Amy M.; Waters, Shannon C.; Durbin-Johnson, Blythe; Britton, Monica; Settles, Matt; Donnelly, Daniel S.; Laske, Sarah M.; Carey, Michael P.; Brown, Randy J; Zimmerman, Christian E.

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Year Published: 2020

Keystone predators govern the pathway and pace of climate impacts in a subarctic marine ecosystem

Predator loss and climate change are hallmarks of the Anthropocene yet their interactive effects are largely unknown. Here, we show that massive calcareous reefs, built slowly by the alga Clathromorphum nereostratum over centuries to millennia, are now declining because of the emerging interplay between these two processes. Such reefs,...

Rasher, Douglas B; Stenek, Robert S; Halfar, Jochen; Kroeker, Kristy J; Ries, Justin B.; Tinker, M. Tim; Chan, Phoebe T W; Fietzke, J; Kamenos, Nicolas; Konar, Brenda H.; Lefcheck, Jonathan S.; Norley, Christopher J D; Weitzman, Ben; Westfield, Isaac T; Estes, James A

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: 976
Before and after views of Kasatochi Volcano's eruption of 2008
July 30, 2018

Before and after views of Kasatochi Volcano's eruption of 2008

Before and after views of Kasatochi Volcano's eruption of 2008

A Northern Fulmar flying in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska
July 19, 2018

A Northern Fulmar flying in Lower Cook Inlet, Alaska

Northern Fulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Common Murres have all been tested for and contained harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins. Since 2015, the USGS has worked with a variety of stakeholders to develop testing methods and research projects to better understand the geographic extent, timing and impacts of algal toxins in Alaska marine ecosystems.

A Northern Fulmar on the water in Lower Cook Inlet
July 18, 2018

A Northern Fulmar on the water in Lower Cook Inlet

Northern Fulmars, Black-legged Kittiwakes, and Common Murres have all been tested for and contained harmful algal bloom (HAB) toxins. Since 2015, the USGS has worked with a variety of stakeholders to develop testing methods and research projects to better understand the geographic extent, timing and impacts of algal toxins in Alaska marine ecosystems.

A bird swimming on top of the ocean
July 18, 2018

A Northern Fulmar on the water offshore of Anchor Point, Cook Inlet

A Northern Fulmar on the water offshore of Anchor Point, Cook Inlet on July 18, 2018.

A man stands smiling on a high coastal bluff near solar panels and a pole supported by guy wires, with a camera mounted on top.
July 8, 2018

Video camera installation, Barter Island

USGS oceanographer Shawn Harrison poses in front of the USGS video camera installation atop the coastal bluff of Barter Island in northern Alaska.

Satellite differences in imagery.
July 8, 2018

The Progress of Landsat Sensor Technology

Landsat sensor technology has come a long way since the days of the Return Beam Vidicon cameras on the first three Landsat satellites. Known as the RBV, it was originally intended to be the satellites’ primary sensor. But the Multispectral Scanner, or MSS, became the more stable and superior instrument.

USGS ecologists map and monitor vegetation and landscape characteristics at long-term ecological monitoring sites on the YKD
July 7, 2018

USGS ecologists map monitor vegetation and landscape characteristics

USGS ecologists map and monitor vegetation and landscape characteristics at long-term ecological monitoring sites on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, AK

A coastal cliff is covered in grasses and some snow, and chunks of the cliff are beginning to crack and fall into the ocean.
July 7, 2018

Camera set-up on Barter Island coastal bluffs

For a short study period, two video cameras overlooked the coast from atop the coastal bluff of Barter Island in northern Alaska. The purpose was to observe and quantify coastal processes such as wave run-up, development of rip channels, bluff erosion, and movement of sandbars and ice floes. The cameras and the pole they're mounted to can be seen atop the bluff.

Men and women sitting in a room with tables and chairs listening to a woman talk, she's pointing at a screen on the wall.
July 7, 2018

USGS hosts community outreach event on Barter Island

USGS oceanographer Li Erikson speaks at a community outreach event on Barter Island, Alaska, to present results from earlier USGS studies and to discuss ongoing USGS research.

A man wearing cold-weather gear and standing on a high coastal bluff points to an instrument that is mounted on short a pole.
July 5, 2018

Installing ground-shaking detection instrument

USGS scientist Cordell Johnson points to the Raspberry Shake, a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. Johnson mounted the Raspberry Shake to an aluminum pole which he will then drive into the ground to bury the instrument beneath the tundra. This process will help isolate it from the wind.

A small instrument with a USGS logo sticker with wires coming out of it is in a hole in the ground.
July 5, 2018

Sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking

This device, called a Raspberry Shake, is a sensitive instrument used to detect ground shaking. It is being carefully buried in this shallow hole in the tundra, to isolate it from wind.

View of muddy, eroding coastal bluffs with a visible permafrost layer and tumbling tundra on top.
July 3, 2018

Actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island

Photograph of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, located on the northern coast of Alaska.

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

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 255
Location of study site in western Alaska and Radarsat-1 satellite images of the Hazen Bay coast during low water
September 23, 2014

Scientists examined storm flooding events in the Bering Sea region of western Alaska from 1913 to 2011 and found that the largest events occurred in autumn and were associated with high tides and strong southwest winds.

Landcover map (left) and pedestrian evacuation time estimate map (right) Ocean Shores, Washington.
September 16, 2014

Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey have developed a new mapping tool, the Pedestrian Evacuation Analyst, for use by researchers and emergency managers to estimate how long it would take for someone to travel on foot out of a tsunami-hazard zone.

collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
September 8, 2014

The Pacific walrus population roughly halved between 1981 and 1999, the last year for which demographic data are available. A recent study by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey quantifies this historic population decline.

USGS
August 19, 2014

As of Wednesday afternoon, August 13, all power issues were resolved and the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory resumed monitoring volcanoes and earthquakes.

USGS
July 24, 2014

Alaska — Due to climate change, some communities in rural Alaska and the Yukon Territory of Canada may face a future with fewer caribou according to new research published by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in the recent issue of PLoS ONE.

USGS
July 9, 2014

Monitoring wildlife in the Arctic is difficult. Study areas are cold, barren and often inaccessible. For decades scientists have struggled to study animals, like polar bears, which live in these remote areas. Now researchers at the U.S. Geological Survey have begun testing a new, yet counterintuitive solution – rather then get close to the animals, monitor them from afar. 

USGS science for a changing world logo
July 3, 2014

As part of a continuing earthquake hazard study in the Seattle urban area, the U. S. Geological Survey will be conducting a series of seismic-reflection surveys starting July 10 on Mercer Island and the city of Seattle, Washington. The studies will conclude on or around July 19.

USGS science for a changing world logo
July 3, 2014

Starting on July 5 (weather permitting), U.S. Geological Survey scientists will conduct a high-resolution airborne survey over the next 30 days to study the distribution of minerals exposed at the surface in various parts of Alaska.

USGS science for a changing world logo
July 3, 2014

Starting on July 5 (weather permitting), U.S. Geological Survey scientists will conduct a high-resolution airborne survey over the next 30 days to study the distribution of minerals exposed at the surface in various parts of Alaska.

USGS
June 6, 2014

The first "point of view" video from a polar bear on Arctic sea ice has just become available courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey. 

USGS science for a changing world logo
May 28, 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey is reducing its footprint on the Alaska Pacific University campus by closing the Map Store @ USGS to lower rent costs. The store will remain open through Oct. 31, 2014.

2014 US Topo map of the Keedysville, Maryland area.
May 22, 2014

US Topo maps now have a crisper, cleaner design - enhancing readability of maps for online and printed use. Map symbols are easier to read over the digital aerial photograph layer whether the imagery is turned on or off.

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.