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: 180
A Black-capped Chickadee with a severely deformed beak where the upper beak is elongated and curved down while the lower beak is
Date Published: August 21, 2018
Status: Active

Background of Beak Deformity Research

Large numbers of Black-capped Chickadees with abnormal beaks were reported in south-central Alaska in the late 1990s.  More recently, similar beak deformities have appeared in other species throughout the state. 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...

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...

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Year Published: 2019

Reference intervals for blood-based biochemical analytes of southern Beaufort Sea polar bears

Accurate reference intervals (RI) for commonly measured blood-based analytes are essential for health monitoring programs. Baseline values for a panel of analytes can be used to monitor physiologic and pathophysiologic processes such as organ function, electrolyte balance, and protein catabolism. Our reference population includes 651 serum...

Fry, Tricia; Friedrichs, Kristen R.; Atwood, Todd C.; Duncan, Colleen G.; Simac, Kristin S.; Goldberg, Tony

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Year Published: 2019

Evaluation of maternal penning to improve calf survival in the Chisana Caribou Herd

Predation is a major limiting factor for most small sedentary caribou (Rangifer tarandus) populations, particularly those that are threatened or endangered across the southern extent of the species’ range. Thus, reducing predation impacts is often a management goal for improving the status of small caribou populations, and lethal predator removal...

Adams, Layne G.; Farnell, Richard G.; Oakley, Michelle P.; Jung, Thomas; Larocque, Lorne; Lortie, Grant; McLelland, Jamie; Reid, Mason; Roffler, Gretchen H.; Russell, Don

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Year Published: 2019

Alaska Geochemical Database Version 3.0 (AGDB3)—Including “Best Value” Data Compilations for Rock, Sediment, Soil, Mineral, and Concentrate Sample Media

The Alaska Geochemical Database Version 3.0 (AGDB3) contains new geochemical data compilations in which each geologic material sample has one “best value” determination for each analyzed species, greatly improving speed and efficiency of use. Like the Alaska Geochemical Database Version 2.0 before it, the AGDB3 was created and designed to compile...

Granitto, Matthew; Wang, Bronwen; Shew, Nora B.; Karl, Susan M.; Labay, Keith A.; Werdon, Melanie B.; Seitz, Susan S.; Hoppe, John E.
Granitto, M., Wang, B., Shew, N.B., Karl, S.M., Labay, K.A., Werdon, M.B., Seitz, S.S., and Hoppe, J.E., 2019, Alaska Geochemical Database Version 3.0 (AGDB3)—Including “best value” data compilations for rock, sediment, soil, mineral, and concentrate sample media: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1117, 33 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1117.

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Year Published: 2019

The Yellow-billed Loon

The Yellow-billed Loon, known in Europe as the White-billed Diver, is a relatively rare bird nesting in arctic tundra regions of North America and Eurasia. This species was first described by G. R. Gray in 1859 (1), and named (Gavia adamsii) after the surgeon Dr. Edward Adams (who collected the first specimen) aboard the H.M.S. Enterprise...

Uher-Koch, Brian D.; Mike North; Schmutz, Joel A.

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Year Published: 2019

Catalog of earthquake parameters and description of seismograph and infrasound stations at Alaskan volcanoes—January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2017

Between January 1, 2013, and December 31, 2017, the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) located a total of 28,172 earthquakes at volcanoes in Alaska. The annual totals are 3,840, 5,819, 5,297, 6,151, and 7,065 earthquakes for the years 2013 through 2017, respectively. This represents an average of 5,634 earthquakes per year, which is comparable to...

Dixon, James P.; Stihler, Scott D.; Haney, Matthew M.; Lyons, John J.; Ketner, Dane M.; Mulliken, Katherine M.; Parker, Thomas; Power, John A.
Dixon, J.P., Stihler S.D., Haney, M.M., Lyons, J.J., Ketner, D.M., Mulliken, K.M., Parker, T., and Power, J.A., 2019, Catalog of earthquake parameters and description of seismograph and infrasound stations at Alaskan volcanoes—January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2017: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1115, 92 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1115.

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Year Published: 2019

Soil mineralogy and geochemistry along a north-south transect in Alaska and the relation to source-rock terrane

Soils collected along a predominately north-south transect in Alaska were used to evaluate regional differences in the soil mineralogy and geochemistry in the context of a geotectonic framework for Alaska. The approximately 1,395-kilometer-long transect followed the Dalton, Elliott, and Richardson Highways from near Prudhoe Bay to Valdez. Sites...

Wang, Bronwen; Hults, Chad P.; Eberl, Dennis D.; Woodruff, Laurel G.; Cannon, William F.; Gough, Larry P.
Wang, B., Hults, C., Eberl, D., Woodruff, L., Cannon, W., and Gough, L., 2019, Soil mineralogy and geochemistry along a north-south transect in Alaska and the relation to source-rock terrane in Dumoulin, J.A., ed., Studies by the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska, vol. 15: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1814–E, 27 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/pp1814E.

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Year Published: 2019

Confronting models with data: The challenges of estimating disease spillover

For pathogens known to transmit across host species, strategic investment in disease control requires knowledge about where and when spillover transmission is likely. One approach to estimating spillover is to directly correlate observed spillover events with covariates. An alternative is to mechanistically combine information on host density,...

Cross, Paul C.; Prosser, Diann; Ramey, Andrew M.; Hanks, Ephraim M.; Pepin, Kim M.

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Year Published: 2019

An initial assessment of areas where landslides could enter the West Arm of Glacier Bay, Alaska and implications for tsunami hazards

Tsunamis generated by landslides in Glacier Bay are uncommon, but have potential to be extraordinarily destructive when they occur. This article identifies areas that are susceptible to landslides that could generate tsunamis and discusses approaches to characterize hazard and risk from these events.

Coe, Jeffrey A.; Schmitt, Robert G.; Bessette-Kirton, Erin

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Year Published: 2019

Giving ecological meaning to satellite-derived fire severity metrics across North American forests

Satellite-derived spectral indices such as the relativized burn ratio (RBR) allow fire severity maps to be produced in a relatively straightforward manner across multiple fires and broad spatial extents. These indices often have strong relationships with field-based measurements of fire severity, thereby justifying their widespread use in...

Parks, Sean; Holsinger, Lisa M.; Koontz, Michael J.; Collins, Luke S.; Whitman, Ellen; Parisien, Marc-André; Loehman, Rachel A.; Barnes, Jennifer L.; Bourdon, Jean-François; Boucher, Jonathan; Boucher, Yan; Caprio, Anthony C.; Collingwood, Adam; Hall, Ron; Park, Jane; Saperstein, Lisa; Smetanka, Charlotte; Smith, Rebecca; Soverel, Nick

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Year Published: 2019

The Aleutian Low – Beaufort Sea Anticyclone: A climate index for predicting the timing of springtime melt in the Pacific Arctic cryosphere

Early and late extremes in the timing of snowmelt have recently been observed in the Pacific Arctic. Subseasonal-to-seasonal forecasts of this timing are important for industry, environmental management and Arctic communities. In northern Alaska, the timing is influenced by the advection of marine air from the north Pacific by the Aleutian Low,...

Cox, Christopher J.; Stone, Robert S.; Douglas, David C.; Stanitski, Diane; Gallagher, Michael
Cox, C. J., Stone, R. S., Douglas, D. C., Stanitski, D. M., & Gallagher, M. R. (2019). The Aleutian Low‐Beaufort Sea Anticyclone: A climate index correlated with the timing of springtime melt in the Pacific Arctic cryosphere. Geophysical Research Letters, 46, 7464–7473. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019GL083306

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Year Published: 2019

Filling knowledge gaps in a threatened shorebird flyway through satellite tracking

Satellite‐based technologies that track individual animal movements enable the mapping of their spatial and temporal patterns of occurrence. This is particularly useful in poorly studied or remote regions where there is a need for the rapid gathering of relevant ecological knowledge to inform management actions. One such region is East Asia, where...

Yin-Chi Chan; Tibbitts, Lee; Tamar Lok; Chris Hassell; He-Bo Peng; Zhijun Ma; Zhengwang Zhang; Theunis Piersma

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: 989
Beaver lodge and drained impoundment in tributary of the Noatak River, Noatak National Preserve
June 12, 2019

Beaver lodge and drained impoundment in tributary of the Noatak River

Beaver lodge and drained impoundment in tributary of the Noatak River, Noatak National Preserve

Impounded water above beaver dam on the Wrench Creek, Noatak National Preserve
June 12, 2019

Impounded water above beaver dam on the Wrench Creek

Impounded water above beaver dam on the Wrench Creek, Noatak National Preserve

Beaver dam and lodge on the Ahaliknak Creek, Noatak National Preserve
June 9, 2019

Beaver dam and lodge on the Ahaliknak Creek, Noatak National Preserve

Beaver dam and lodge on the Ahaliknak Creek, Noatak National Preserve

Chilkat River bridge
May 30, 2019

Chilkat River bridge

Chilkat River bridge

Chilkat River sonar on a bridge
May 30, 2019

Chilkat River sonar on a bridge

Chilkat River sonar on a bridge

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

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.

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

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 246
Painting - Denali in Midsummer
June 21, 2016

The U.S. Geological Survey has produced a new compilation of landscape-scale sediment and soil geochemical data for Alaska. This was last completed nearly 40 years ago in 1978, but the new effort uses modern modeling and analysis techniques to map 68 elements across a newly developed and updated geochemical atlas of Alaska.

USGS study of fires and waterfowl surveys in the western boreal forest of North America. 
June 21, 2016

“These results suggest that waterfowl populations in the western boreal forest are resilient to forest fires and that current policies of limited fire suppression have not been detrimental to waterfowl populations." – Tyler Lewis, U.S. Geological Survey.

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. 

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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