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: 2,610
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Year Published: 2020

A synthesis of ten years of chemical contaminant monitoring data in National Park Service - Southeast and southwest Alaska networks

With the exception of PAHs and trace metals, which were detected at 100% of the sites, all of the other contaminants were detected at varying frequencies. PBBs, Mirex and Endosulfans were not detected in any of the samples and Chlorpyrifos was only detected in five samples across four sites. Chlordanes were present at 79% of the sites while...

Rider, Mary; Apeti, Dennis; Jacob, Annie; Kimbrough, Kimani L.; Davenport, Erik; Bower, Michael R.; Colletti, Heather A; Esler, Daniel N.

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Year Published: 2020

Citizen science collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska

Citizen science is science undertaken by the public, usually in collaboration with professional scientific institutions. It encourages citizens to tackle real-world scientific problems and augments traditional science by expanding the coverage of data collection and by reducing costs of fieldwork in remote locations. Information collected by...

Powers, Elizabeth; Williams, Dee
Powers, E.M., and Williams, D.M., 2020, Citizen science collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020-3026, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203026.

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Year Published: 2020

DNA metabarcoding of feces to infer summer diet of Pacific walruses

Environmental conditions in the Chukchi Sea are changing rapidly and may alter the abundance and distribution of marine species and their benthic prey. We used a metabarcoding approach to identify potentially important prey taxa from Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) fecal samples (n = 87). Bivalvia was the most dominant class of...

Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Jay, Chadwick V.; Cornman, Robert S.; Fischbach, Anthony S.; Grebmeier, Jacqueline M.; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Wildfire-initiated talik development exceeds current thaw projections: Observations and models from Alaska's continuous permafrost zone

As the Arctic warms and wildfire occurrence increases, talik formation in permafrost regions is projected to expand and affect the cycling of water and carbon. Yet, few unified field and modeling studies have examined this process in detail, particularly in areas of continuous permafrost. We address this gap by presenting multimethod,...

Rey, David; Walvoord, Michelle A.; Minsley, Burke J.; Ebel, Brian A.; Voss, Clifford I.; Singha, Kamini

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Year Published: 2020

Fish growth rates and lake sulphate explain variation in mercury levels in ninespine stickleback (Pungitius pungitius) on the Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska

Mercury concentrations in freshwater food webs are governed by complex biogeochemical and ecological interactions that spatially vary and are often mediated by climate. The Arctic Coastal Plain of Alaska (ACP) is a heterogeneous, lake-rich landscape where variability in mercury accumulation is poorly understood. Earlier research indicated that the...

Burke, Samantha M.; Zimmerman, Christian E.; Laske, Sarah M.; Koch, Joshua C.; Derry, Allison M.; Guernon, Stephanie; Branfireun, Brian A.; Swanson, Heidi K.

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Year Published: 2020

After-hatch and hatch year Buff-breasted Sandpipers (Calidris subruficollis) can be sexed accurately using morphometric measures

Determining the sex of birds quickly in the field can help in studies of behavior and distribution, and when selecting particular sexes for deploying tracking devices or collecting samples. However, discerning males from females is difficult in species that are plumage monomorphic and have overlapping sexual-size dimorphism, as in Buff-breasted...

Almeida, Juliana B.; Lopes, Iara F.; Oring, Lewis; Tibbitts, Lee; Pajot, Lisa M.; Lanctot, Richard B.

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Year Published: 2020

Mate fidelity improves survival and breeding propensity of a long‐lived bird

Evolutionary and behavioural ecologists have long been interested in factors shaping the variation in mating behaviour observed in nature. Although much of the research on this topic has focused on the consequences of mate choice and mate change on annual reproductive success, studies of a potential positive link between mate fidelity and adult...

Leach, Alan G.; Riecke, Thomas V.; Sedinger, James S.; Ward, David H.; Boyd, Sean

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Year Published: 2020

Mitochondrial genome diversity and population mitogenomics of Polar cod (Boreogadus saida) and Arctic dwelling gadoids

High-latitude fish typically exhibit a narrow thermal tolerance window, which may pose challenges when coping with temperatures that shift outside of a species’ range of tolerance. Due to its role in aerobic metabolism and energy balance, the mitochondrial genome is likely critical for the acclimation and adaptation to differing temperature...

Wilson, Robert E.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Sme, Noel; Gharrett, Anthony J.; Majewski, Andrew; Wedemeyer, Kate; Nelson, R. John; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Sample-size considerations for a study of shorebird nest survival in the 1002 Area, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska

Authorization of lease sales for oil development in the 1002 Area of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge has highlighted gaps in information about biological communities in the area. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is planning a study to evaluate spatial variation in the nest survival of tundra-breeding shorebirds to identify hotspots...

Weiser, Emily L.
Weiser, E., 2020, Sample-size considerations for a study of shorebird nest survival in the 1002 Area, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1066, 18 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201066

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Year Published: 2020

Dietary fat concentrations influence fatty acid assimilation patterns in Atlantic pollock (Pollachius virens)

A key aspect in the use of fatty acids (FA) to estimate predator diets using Quantitative FA Signature Analysis (QFASA) is the ability to account for FA assimilation through the use of calibration coefficients (CC). Here, we tested the assumption that CC are independent of dietary fat concentrations by feeding Atlantic pollock (Pollachius virens)...

Budge, Suzanne M.; Townsend, Katherine; Lall, Santosh P; Bromaghin, Jeffrey F.

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Year Published: 2020

Annual adult survival drives trends in Arctic-breeding shorebirds but knowledge gaps in other vital rates remain

Conservation status and management priorities are often informed by population trends. Trend estimates can be derived from population surveys or models, but both methods are associated with sources of uncertainty. Many Arctic-breeding shorebirds are thought to be declining based on migration and/or overwintering population surveys, but data are...

Weiser, Emily L.; Lanctot, Richard B.; Brown, Stephen C.; Gates, H. River; Bety, Joel; Boldenow, Megan L.; Brook, Rodney W.; Brown, Glen S.; English, Willow B.; Flemming, Scott A.; Franks, Samantha E.; Gilchrist, H. Grant; Giroux, Marie-Andree; Johnson, Andrew; Kendall, Steve; Kennedy, Lisa V.; Koloski, Laura; Kwon, Eunbi; Lamarre, Jean-Francois; Lank, David B.; Latty, Christopher J.; Lecomte, Nicolas; Liebezeit, Joseph R.; McGuire, Rebecca L; McKinnon, Laura; Nol, Erica; Payer, David C.; Perz, Johanna; Rausch, Jennie; Robards, Martin D.; Saalfeld, Sarah T.; Senner, Nathan R.; Smith, Paul A.; Soloviev, Mikhail; Solovyeva, Diana V; Ward, David H.; Woodard, Paul F.; Sandercock, Brett K.

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: 983
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.

UAS undergraduate student Mckenzie Wilson examines a cross section.
December 31, 2018

Tree ring research in Alaska

UAS undergraduate student Mckenzie Wilson examines a cross section.

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 BP Exploration Building, M7 Nov. 30, 2018, Anchorage Quake

This video presents a visualization of how the BP Exploration 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 (USGS) to obtain data to study its behavior and performance during strong shaking. Such data are useful in making decisions about

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

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 251
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.

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. 

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.