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: 178
Northern Pintail Duck swimming
Date Published: July 27, 2017
Status: Active

Dabbling and Diving Duck Research

Dabbling and diving ducks (such as the northern pintail, mallard, teal, and scaup) are highly migratory and widespread species throughout North America.  For many species, their migratory flyways through Asia and North America overlap in Alaska and northeastern Russia.  Population trends of these species are closely tracked through aerial surveys by management agencies.  Results from these and...

Spectacled eider male and female flying near the Colville River in 2013.
Date Published: July 27, 2017
Status: Active

Sea Duck Research

At the USGS Alaska Science Center, research on sea ducks has been designed to anticipate and address priority information needs of management agencies.  Until recently, very little was known about sea ducks in Alaska in terms of migration patterns and general biology.  Therefore, much of our past work focused on individual species, their migration, population demography, and ecology to fill...

Male Long-tailed Duck in the water
Date Published: July 26, 2017
Status: Active

Drivers of Population Trends for Waterfowl

Each year, management agencies conduct aerial surveys of waterfowl populations across Alaska and the rest of North America to document annual changes in the numbers of breeding and wintering waterfowl.  These surveys yield long-term data sets of population change, but often the drivers of increases and decreases in population size are unknown.  The USGS Alaska Science Center waterfowl research...

Man releasing duck in Japan. He wears a face mask for protection from disease
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Wildlife Disease and Environmental Health in Alaska

Environmental health is defined by connections between the physical environment, ecological health, and human health. Current research within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) recognizes the importance of this integrated research philosophy, which includes study of disease and pollutants as they pertain to both wildlife and humans. Due to its key geographic location and significant wildlife...

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: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Landbird Research in Alaska

Beak Deformities, Boreal Partners in Flight and USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems Boreal-Arctic Transition Zone.

Spectacled eider male and female flying near the Colville River in 2013.
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Waterfowl Research

Scientists at the USGS Alaska Science Center have conducted research on waterfowl species (ducks, geese, and swans) in Alaska since the 1970s. Because Alaska is an international crossroads of migratory bird flyways, with millions of birds from Asia and North America breeding in Alaska each summer, USGS research has also taken place in adjacent countries (Russia, Japan, Canada, Mexico) and in...

Polar bear mother and two cubs on the Beaufort Sea ice.
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Polar Bear Research

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are one of 4 marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of Interior. The USGS Alaska Science Center leads long–term research on polar bears to inform local, state, national and international policy makers regarding conservation of the species and its habitat. Our studies, ongoing since 1985, are focused on population dynamics, health and...

A Bar-tailed Godwit with a Z0 tag on it's leg and a satellite transmitter antenna emerging from rear feathers
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Shorebird Research

With its vast size, numerous huge embayments, and geographic position at a terminus of numerous migration pathways, Alaska is a critically important site for the world’s shorebirds. Thirty-seven shorebird species regularly breed in Alaska, and an additional 36 species have been recorded in the state. These numbers represent nearly a third of the world’s known shorebird species. Most of these...

Caribou roaming the Arctic Coastal Plain
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Terrestrial Mammal Ecology Research

Understanding the population dynamics, predator/prey relationships and habitat ecology of large, terrestrial mammals is critical for the management of these wildlife species in Alaska and elsewhere around the world.

A satellite tagged Pacific walrus on a piece of sea ice
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Walrus Research

The Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) is one of 4 marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of Interior. The USGS Alaska Science Center conducts long–term research on Pacific walruses to inform local, state, national and international policy makers regarding conservation of the species and its habitat. The goal of our current research efforts is to refine and enhance...

Sea otter in kelp
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Nearshore Marine Ecosystem Research

Nearshore ecosystems include many resources that are of high ecological, recreational, subsistence, and economic value. They also are subject to influences from a wide variety of natural and human-caused perturbations, which can originate in terrestrial or oceanic environments. Our research is designed to evaluate sources of variation in the nearshore and how they influence resources of high...

A Bar-tailed Godwit with a Z0 tag on it's leg and a satellite transmitter antenna emerging from rear feathers
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Habitat Dynamics

The Habitat Dynamics Project examines how short and long-term changes in the environment affect the distribution and survival of wildlife populations. 

Contacts: David Douglas
Filter Total Items: 2,376
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Year Published: 2018

Climate, disturbance, and vulnerability to vegetation change in the Northwest Forest Plan Area

Climate change is expected to alter the composition, structure, and function of forested ecosystems in the United States (Vose et al. 2012). Increases in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide [CO2]) and temperature, as well as altered precipitation and disturbance regimes (e.g., fire, insects, pathogens, and...

Reilly, Matthew J.; Spies, Thomas A.; Littell, Jeremy S.; Butz, Ramona J.; Kim, John B.

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Year Published: 2018

Climate Change in Port Heiden, Alaska - Strategies for Community Health

There are two components to this document. The first component is the scope of described environmental change and its impacts in Port Heiden Alaska. The second component is a list of priorities to be addressed that will help Port Heiden achieve its vision for the future. Each priority area incorporates local knowledge with available climate...

Lujan, Erica; Brubaker, Mike; Warren, John; Christensen, Jaclyn; Anderson, Scott; O'Domin, Melissa; Littell, Jeremy S.; Buzard, Richard M.; Overbeck, Jacquelyn R.; Holen, Davin; Flensburg, Sue; Powers, Elizabeth

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Year Published: 2018

Interisland genetic structure of two endangered Hawaiian waterbirds: The Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Gallinule

Most of Hawaii's endemic avifauna are species of conservation concern. Some of Hawaii's endangered waterbirds, however, have increased in number as a result of intensive management of wetlands. To inform these conservation efforts, we examined interisland genetic structure and gene flow within 2 Hawaiian endemic waterbirds, the Hawaiian Coot (...

Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Wilson, Robert E.; Underwood, Jared G.
Sonsthagen, S.A., Wilson, R.E., and Underwood, J.G., 2018, Interisland genetic structure of two endangered Hawaiian waterbirds: The Hawaiian Coot and Hawaiian Gallinule, The Condor, 120:863-873, https://doi.org/10.1650/CONDOR-18-98.1

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Year Published: 2018

Ice wedge degradation and stabilization impacts water budgets and nutrient cycling in Arctic trough ponds

Trough ponds are ubiquitous features of Arctic landscapes and an important component of freshwater aquatic ecosystems. Permafrost thaw causes ground subsidence, creating depressions that gather water, creating ponds. Permafrost thaw also releases solutes and nutrients, which may fertilize these newly formed ponds. We measured water budget elements...

Koch, Joshua C.; Jorgenson, M. Torre; Wickland, Kimberly P.; Kanevskiy, Mikhail Z.; Striegl, Robert G.
Koch, J.C., Jorgenson, M.T., Wickland, K.P., Kanevskiy, M., and Striegl, R.G., 2018, Ice wedge degradation and stabilization impacts water budgets and nutrient cycling in Arctic trough ponds, Journal of Geophysical Research – Biogeosciences, 123(8), 2604-2616.

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Year Published: 2018

Drought and fire in the western USA: Is climate attribution enough?

Purpose of ReviewI sought to review the contributions of recent literature and prior foundational papers to our understanding of drought and fire. In this review, I summarize recent literature on drought and fire in the western USA and discuss research directions that may increase the utility of that body of work for twenty-first century...

Littell, Jeremy S.

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Year Published: 2018

Downscaling of climate model output for Alaskan stakeholders

The paper summarizes an end-to-end activity connecting the global climate modeling enterprise with users of climate information in Alaska. The effort included retrieval of the requisite observational datasets and model output, a model evaluation and selection procedure, the actual downscaling by the delta method with its...

Walsh, John E.; Bhatt, Uma S.; Littell, Jeremy S.; Leonawicz, Matthew; Lindgren, Michael; Kurkowski, Thomas A.; Bieniek, Peter A.; Thoman, Richard; Gray, Stephen; Rupp, T. Scott

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Year Published: 2018

NDVI exhibits mixed success in predicting spatiotemporal variation in caribou summer forage quality and quantity

The satellite‐derived Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) is commonly used by researchers and managers to represent ungulate forage conditions in landscapes across the globe, despite limited information about how it compares to empirical measurements of forage quality and quantity. The application of NDVI as a forage metric is...

Johnson, Heather E.; Gustine, David D.; Golden, Trevor S.; Adams, Layne G.; Parrett, Lincoln S.; Lenart, Elizabeth A.; Barboza, Perry S.
Johnson, H.E., Gustine, D.D., Golden, T.S., Adams, L.G., Parrett, L.S., Lenart, E.A., and Barboza, P.S., 2018, NDVI exhibits mixed success in predicting spatiotemporal variation in caribou summer forage quality and quantity: Ecosphere, vol. 9, no. 10, p. e02461. doi: 10.1002/ecs2.2461

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Year Published: 2018

Inventory of lowland-breeding birds on the Alaska Peninsula

We conducted the first systematic inventory of birds in the lowlands (areas ≤100 m above sea level) of the Alaska Peninsula during summers of 2004–2007 to determine their breeding distributions and habitat associations in this remote region. Using a stratified random survey design, we allocated sample plots by elevation and land cover with a...

Savage, Susan E.; Tibbitts, Lee; Sesser, Kristin; Kaler, Robb S.A.

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Year Published: 2018

Museum metabarcoding: a novel method revealing gut helminth communities of small mammals across space and time

Natural history collections spanning multiple decades provide fundamental historical baselines to measure and understand changing biodiversity. New technologies such as next generation DNA sequencing (NGS) have considerably increased the potential of museum specimens to address significant questions regarding the impact of environmental changes on...

Greiman, Stephen E.; Cook, Joseph A.; Tkach, Vasyl V.; Hoberg, Eric P.; Menning, Damian M.; Hope, Andrew G.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Talbot, Sandra L.
Greiman, S.E., Cook, J.A., Tkachc, V.V., Hobergb, E.P, Menning, D.M., Hope A.G., Sonsthagen, S.A., Talbot, S.L., 2018. Museum metabarcoding: a novel method revealing gut helminth communities of small mammals across space and time. International Journal for Parasitology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpara.2018.08.001

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Year Published: 2018

Fuelling conditions at staging sites can mitigate Arctic warming effects in a migratory bird

Under climate warming, migratory birds should align reproduction dates with advancing plant and arthropod phenology. To arrive on the breeding grounds earlier, migrants may speed up spring migration by curtailing the time spent en route, possibly at the cost of decreased survival rates. Based on a decades-long series of observations along an...

Rakhimberdiev, Eldar; Duijns, Sjoerd; Karagicheva, Julia; Camphuysen, Cornelis J.; Dekinga, Anne; Dekker, Rob; Gavrilov, Anatoly; ten Horn, Job; Jukema, Joop; Saveliev, Anatoly; Soloviev, Mikhail; Tibbitts, Lee; van Gils, Jan A.; Piersma, Theunis; Castricum, VRS
Rakhimberdiev, Eldar, Duijns, S., Karagicheva, J., Camphuysen, C.J., Dekinga, A., Dekker, R., Gavrilov, A., ten Horn, J., Jukema, J., Saveliev, A., Soloviev, M., Tibbitts, T.L., van Gils, J.A., Piersma, T., van Loon, A., Wijker, A., Keijl, G., Levering, H., Jan V., Heemskerk, L., Knijnsberg, L., van Roomen, M., Ruiters, P., Admiraal, P., Veldt, P., Reijnders, R., Beentjes, W., VRS Castricum., 2018, Fuelling conditions at staging sites can mitigate Arctic warming effects in a migratory bird., Nature Communications, 9(1): 4263, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-06673-5

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Year Published: 2018

Trends and traditions: Overview and synthesis

This paper provides an overview by the editors of a collection of 25 papers for the Studies of Western Birds, to be published in a single volume by Western Field Ornithologists. The title of the volume is: "Trends and traditions: Avifaunal change in western North America."

Shuford, W David; Gill, Robert E.; Handel, Colleen M.

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Year Published: 2018

A decade of remotely sensed observations highlight complex processes linked to coastal permafrost bluff erosion in the Arctic

Eroding permafrost coasts are indicators and integrators of changes in the Arctic System as they are susceptible to the combined effects of declining sea ice extent, increases in open water duration, more frequent and impactful storms, sea-level rise, and warming permafrost. However, few observation sites in the Arctic have yet to link decadal-...

Jones, Benjamin M.; Farquharson, Louise M.; Baughman, Carson; Buzard, Richard M.; Arp, Christopher D.; Grosse, Guido; Bull, Diana L.; Günther, Frank; Nitze, Ingmar; Urban, Frank; Kasper, Jeremy L.; Frederick, Jennifer M.; Thomas, Matthew A.; Jones, Craig; Mota, Alejandro; Dallimore, Scott; Tweedie, Craig E.; Maio, Christopher V.; Mann, Daniel H.; Richmond, Bruce M.; Gibbs, Ann E.; Xiao, Ming; Sachs, Torsten; Iwahana, Go; Kanevskiy, Mikhail Z.; Romanovsky, Vladimir E.
Benjamin M. Jones et al 2018 Environ. Res. Lett. in press https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/aae471

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
Image shows a river winding through a green landscape
December 31, 2017

Fish Creek Watershed in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Fish Creek wanders through the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million acre region managed by the Bureau of Land Management on Alaska's North Slope. USGS has periodically assessed oil and gas resource potential there. These assessments can be found here.

Image shows squares of permafrost
December 31, 2017

Permafrost in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska

Permafrost forms a grid-like pattern in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, a 22.8 million acre region managed by the Bureau of Land Management on Alaska's North Slope. USGS has periodically assessed oil and gas resource potential there. These assessments can be found here.

November 20, 2017

Return to the Alaska Wilderness

A team of USGS scientists spent two weeks in the isolated Glacier Bay National Park, exploring one of the fastest-moving faults in North America.
 

3 men leaning over big yellow metal grab bucket on the deck of a ship. Dark sediment is visible inside bucket
September 28, 2017

Examining bucket of seafloor sediment collected off southeast Alaska

USGS research geophysicist Danny Brothers (right) and colleagues examine the surface of a sediment grab sample just pulled onto the deck of the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully. The sample was collected from the top of a mud volcano north of the border between southeast Alaska and British Columbia. Expedition scientists are investigating the Queen Charlotte

...
Two women stand at plywood table on which rest three long plastic tubes full of dark seafloor sediment.
September 17, 2017

Sampling core fluid from sediment cores collected off southeast Alaska

Mary McGann (left, USGS) and Rachel Lauer (University of Calgary) sample pore fluids from sediment cores collected aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault offshore of southeast Alaska. Expedition scientists will use their findings to better understand the history of the fault and the hazards it poses to

...
Two women stand at a table having a discussion while looking at long cores of sediment samples.
September 17, 2017

Sampling pore fluids from sediment cores

Mary McGann (left, USGS) and Rachel Lauer (University of Calgary) sample pore fluids from sediment cores collected aboard the Canadian Coast Guard Ship John P. Tully along the Queen Charlotte-Fairweather fault offshore of southeast Alaska. Expedition scientists will use their findings to better understand the history of the fault and the hazards it poses to

...
Salcha River sonar near Salchaket
September 13, 2017

Salcha River sonar near Salchaket

Salcha River sonar near Salchaket

Tazlina River sonar
September 13, 2017

Tazlina River sonar

Tazlina River sonar

Scientist walking up the Imelyak River
August 31, 2017

Sampling the Imelyak River in the Brooks Range

Sampling the Imelyak River in the Boreal-Arctic transition of the Brooks Range in Noatak National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park. This is part of the Hydro-Ecoloy of Arctic Thawing (HEAT) project.

Sampling a stream in the mist in the Akilik River drainage
August 31, 2017

Sampling a stream from the Akilik River drainage

Sampling a stream from the Akilik River drainage in the Boreal-Arctic transition of the Brooks Range in Noatak National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park. This is part of the Hydro-Ecoloy of Arctic Thawing (HEAT) project.

Scientist walking up the Akilik River with a minnow trap to catch fish
August 31, 2017

Akilik River stream sampling

Hiking up a stream from the Akilik River drainage to set minnow traps for fish sampling. This is a stream type at the Boreal-Arctic transition of the Brooks Range, Noatak National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park.

A small arctic grayling near the bottom of the Imelyak River
August 31, 2017

Small arctic grayling in the Imelyak River, Brooks Range

Small arctic grayling hugging the bottom in the Imelyak River in the Brooks Range. This is part of the Hydro-Ecoloy of Arctic Thawing (HEAT) project.

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

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 246
USGS
January 23, 2012

ANCHORAGE — A new report maps out erosion history and hazards for 74 miles of the Matanuska River, a braided river in Southcentral Alaska that has damaged and threatened houses, roads and public facilities for decades. 

USGS science for a changing world logo
October 25, 2011

Thawing permafrost in the Yukon River watershed may be a source of naturally occurring mercury being conveyed by rivers into the environment, according to USGS research scientists.

USGS science for a changing world logo
October 13, 2011

Dr. David Shelly, a research seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, was named one of President Obama's recipients of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

USGS science for a changing world logo
October 7, 2011

Stephen Gray has been selected as the center director of the Department of the Interior’s Alaska Climate Science Center, located at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, in Anchorage.

USGS science for a changing world logo
September 13, 2011

Personal interviews with Alaska Natives in the Yukon River Basin provide unique insights on climate change and its impacts, helping develop adaptation strategies for these local communities.

USGS science for a changing world logo
September 13, 2011

The USGS Alaska Science Center has released new high-resolution video of Pacific walruses hauling out near Point Lay, Alaska, in late August, 2011. 

Also available on the USGS Alaska Science Center walrus website are animations of the walruses’ movements as tracked by radio transmitters, and FAQs on the ongoing walrus studies.

USGS science for a changing world logo
August 16, 2011

USGS Alaska Science Center researchers, in cooperation with the Native Village of Point Lay, will attempt to attach 35 satellite radio-tags to walruses on the northwestern Alaska coast in August as part of their ongoing study of how the Pacific walrus are responding to reduced sea ice conditions in late summer and fall.

USGS science for a changing world logo
August 1, 2011

Marine biologists are setting up camp in Forks this week, and sea otters will be their quarry on a three-week expedition. Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Seattle Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium and other institutions are studying the health of local sea otters to assess the condition of Washington’s nearshore ecosystem. 

USGS science for a changing world logo
July 20, 2011

The U.S. Geological Survey is conducting a study that analyzes movements of 62 satellite-collared female polar bears over a 6-year period (2004-2009), providing a first description of swimming events within a population of polar bears. The results of the study have not yet been published, but  are already generating significant attention.

USGS science for a changing world logo
June 28, 2011

The Cook Inlet Region of Alaska contains an estimated mean of 19 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, about 600 million barrels of oil, and 46 million barrels of natural gas liquids, according to a new assessment by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). This estimate is of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources, and includes both unconventional and conventional resources.

USGS science for a changing world logo
May 16, 2011

Marine biologists are gathering in Alaska this week to kick off a three-week expedition studying sea otters, as part of a joint U.S.-Canadian project to investigate the ecological health of the Pacific coastline.

The "Pacific Nearshore Project" is a multinational, multiagency project investigating sea otters as health indicators of coastal waters and marine resources from California nort

USGS science for a changing world logo
May 4, 2011

The U.S. Geological Survey assessment on the economic recoverability of undiscovered, conventional oil and gas resources within the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska (NPRA) and adjacent state waters is now available online.

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.