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: 174
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...

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...

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-...

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

Date published: August 15, 2018
Status: Active

Literature Cited for Beak Deformities

Literature Cited in the Beak Deformity web pages

Date published: August 14, 2018
Status: Active

Links Related to Beak Deformity Research

Links, videos and news articles related to beak deformity research

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.

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...

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

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report
Filter Total Items: 2,432
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Year Published: 2020

Extending seasonal discharge records for streamgage sites on the North Fork Fortymile and Middle Fork Fortymile Rivers, Alaska, through water year 2019

Daily mean discharge values were estimated for May 20–September 30 for 1976–82 and 2006–18 for the U.S. Geological Survey North Fork Fortymile River and Middle Fork Fortymile River streamgage sites in Alaska. A relation between study streamgage discharge and discharge for an index streamgage on the main-stem Fortymile River for a concurrent period...

Curran, Janet H.
Curran, J.H., 2020, Extending seasonal discharge records for streamgage sites on the North Fork Fortymile and Middle Fork Fortymile Rivers, Alaska, through water year 2019: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5003, 11 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205003.

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Year Published: 2020

Multi-decadal patterns of vegetation succession after tundra fire on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska

Alaska’s Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is one of the warmest parts of the Arctic tundra biome and tundra fires are common in its upland areas. Here we combine field measurements, Landsat observations, and quantitative cover maps for tundra plant functional types (PFTs) to characterize multi-decadal succession and landscape change after fire in...

Frost, Gerald; Loehman, Rachel A.; Saperstein, Lisa; Macander, Matthew J.; Nelson, Peter; Paradis, David; Natali, Sue M.

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Year Published: 2020

Simulation modeling of complex climate, wildfire, and vegetation dynamics to address wicked problems in land management

Complex, reciprocal interactions among climate, disturbance, and vegetation dramatically alter spatial landscape patterns and influence ecosystem dynamics. As climate and disturbance regimes shift, historical analogs and past empirical studies may not be entirely appropriate as templates for future management. The need for a better understanding...

Loehman, Rachel A.; Keane, Robert E.; Holsinger, Lisa M.

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Year Published: 2020

Fatty acid-based diet estimates suggest ringed seal remain the main prey of southern Beaufort Sea polar bears despite recent use of onshore food resources

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from the southern Beaufort Sea (SB) subpopulation have traditionally fed predominantly upon ice‐seals; however, as the proportion of the subpopulation using onshore habitat has recently increased, foraging on land‐based resources, including remains of subsistence‐harvested bowhead whales (Balaena mysticetus) and...

Bourque, Jennifer; Atwood, Todd C.; Divoky, George J.; Stewart, Connie; McKinney, Melissa A.

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Year Published: 2020

Catalogue of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal den locations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and nearby areas, 1910–2018

This report presents data on the approximate locations and methods of discovery of 530 polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal dens observed in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and neighboring areas from 1910 to 2018, and archived partly by the U.S. Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, and partly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Marine...

Durner, George M.; Amstrup, Steven C.; Atwood, Todd C.; Douglas, David C.; Fischbach, Anthony S.; Olson, Jay W.; Rode, Karyn D.; Wilson, Ryan R.
Durner, G.M., Amstrup, S.C., Atwood, T.C., Douglas, D.C., Fischbach, A.S., Olson, J.W., Rode, K.D., and Wilson, R.R., 2020, Catalogue of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) maternal den locations in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and nearby areas, 1910–2018: U.S. Geological Survey Data Series 1121, 12 p., including appendixes, https://doi.org/10.3133/ds1121. [Supersedes USGS Data Series 568.]

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Year Published: 2020

The clock keeps ticking: Circadian rhythms of free-ranging polar bears

Life in the Arctic presents organisms with multiple challenges, including extreme photic conditions, cold temperatures, and annual loss and daily movement of sea ice. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) evolved under these unique conditions, where they rely on ice to hunt their main prey, seals. However, very little is known about the dynamics of their...

Ware, Jasmine V.; Rode, Karyn D.; Robbins, Charles T.; Leise, T.; Weil, C.R.; Jansen, Heiko T.

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Year Published: 2020

Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the Central North Slope of Alaska, 2020

Using a geology-based assessment methodology, the U.S. Geological Survey estimated undiscovered, technically recoverable mean resources of 3.6 billion barrels of oil and 8.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (associated and nonassociated) in conventional accumulations in Mississippian through Paleogene strata in the central North Slope...

Houseknecht, David W.; Whidden, Katherine J.; Connors, Christopher D.; Lease, Richard O.; Schenk, Christopher J.; Mercier, Tracey J.; Rouse, William A.; Botterell, Palma J.; Smith, Rebecca A.; Sanders, Margaret M.; Craddock, William H.; DeVera, Christina A.; Garrity, Christopher P.; Buursink, Marc L.; Karacan, Cevat O.; Heller, Samuel J.; Moore, Thomas E.; Dumoulin, Julie A.; Tennyson, Marilyn E.; French, Katherine L.; Woodall, Cheryl A.; Drake, Ronald M.; Marra, Kristen R.; Finn, Thomas M.; Kinney, Scott A.; Shorten, Chilisa M.
Houseknecht, D.W., Whidden, K.J., Connors, C.D., Lease, R.O., Schenk, C.J., Mercier, T.J., Rouse, W.A., Botterell, P.J., Smith, R.A., Sanders, M.M., Craddock, W.H., DeVera, C.A., Garrity, C.P., Buursink, M.L., Karacan, C.O., Heller, S.J., Moore, T.E., Dumoulin, J.A., Tennyson, M.E., French, K.L., Woodall, C.A., Drake, R.M., II, Marra, K.R., Finn, T.M., Kinney, S.A., and Shorten, C.M., 2020, Assessment of undiscovered oil and gas resources in the central North Slope of Alaska, 2020: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020–3001, 4 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203001.

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Year Published: 2020

Genetic confirmation of a natural hybrid between a Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis) and a Cooper’s Hawk (A. cooperii)

Although hybrids between captive Accipiter species are known, and hybrids between wild Accipiter species in North America have long been suspected, none have been confirmed to date. However, in 2014, a hatching year Accipiter captured at Cape May, New Jersey, during fall migration, appeared intermediate in size and plumage between a Northern...

Haughey, Christy; Nelson, Arthur; Napier, Paul; Rosenfield, R. N.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.; Talbot, Sandra L.

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Year Published: 2020

Extreme mortality and reproductive failure of common murres resulting from the northeast Pacific marine heatwave of 2014-2016

About 62,000 dead or dying common murres (Uria aalge), the trophically dominant fish-eating seabird of the North Pacific, washed ashore between summer 2015 and spring 2016 on beaches from California to Alaska. Most birds were severely emaciated and, so far, no evidence for anything other than starvation was found to explain this mass mortality....

Piatt, John F.; Parrish, Julia K.; Renner, Heather M.; Schoen, Sarah K.; Jones, Timothy; Arimitsu, Mayumi L.; Kuletz, Kathy J.; Bodenstein, Barbara; Garcia-Reyes, Marisol; Duerr, Rebecca; Corcoran, Robin; Kaler, Robb S.A.; McChesney, Gerard J.; Golightly, Richard T.; Coletti, Heather A.; Suryan, Robert M.; Burgess, Hillary K.; Lindsey, Jackie; Lindquist, Kirsten; Warzybok, Peter; Jahncke, Jaime; Roletto, Jan; Sydeman, William J.

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Year Published: 2020

Field-based method for assessing duration of infectivity for influenza A viruses in the environment

Understanding influenza A virus (IAV) persistence in wetlands is limited by a paucity of field studies relating to the maintenance of infectivity over time. The duration of IAV infectivity in water has been assessed under variable laboratory conditions, but results are difficult to translate to more complex field conditions. We tested a field-...

Reeves, Andrew B.; Ramey, Andrew M.; Koch, Joshua C.; Poulson, Rebecca L.; Stallknecht, David E.

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Year Published: 2020

Early goose arrival increases soil nitrogen availability more than an advancing spring in coastal western Alaska

An understudied aspect of climate change-induced phenological mismatch is its effect on ecosystem functioning, such as nitrogen (N) cycling. The timing of migratory herbivore arrival may alter N inputs and plant-herbivore feedbacks, while earlier springs are predicted to increase N cycling rates. However, the relative importance of these shifts in...

Choi, Ryan T.; Beard, Karen H.; Kelsey, Katherine; Leffler, Joshua; Schmutz, Joel A.; Welker, Jeffrey

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Year Published: 2020

Spatial and temporal dynamics of Pacific capelin Mallotus catervarius in the Gulf of Alaska: Implications for ecosystem-based fisheries management

Pacific capelin Mallotus catervarius are planktivorous, small pelagic fish that serve an intermediate trophic role in marine food webs. Due to the lack of a directed fishery or monitoring of capelin in the Northeast Pacific, there is limited information on their distribution and abundance, and how spatio-temporal fluctuations in capelin...

David W. McGowan; Esther Goldstein; Arimitsu, Mayumi L.; Alison Dreary; Olav Ormseth; Alex DeRobertis; John Horne; Lauren Rogers; Matt Wilson; Kenneth Coyle; Kris Holderied; Piatt, John F.; Stockhausen, W.T.; Stephani Zador

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: 974
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

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.

Shublik Spring open water
April 27, 2019

Shublik Spring open water

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

Canning River with bars
April 27, 2019

Canning River with bars

Supporting the project of winter habitat of juvenile Dolly Varden in the Canning River.

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.

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

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 249
vertical columns of volcanic rock at Devils Postpile National Monument
July 13, 2016

A new geologic map of the Long Valley Caldera, Mammoth Mountain, and the Middle Fork canyon of the San Joaquin River including Devils Postpile National Monument, recounts the geologic and volcanic history of the area east of the Sierra Nevada in far greater detail than any previously published report.

USGS
July 7, 2016

Alaska is a major producer of base and precious metals and has a high potential for additional undiscovered mineral resources. However, discovery is hindered by Alaska’s vast size, remoteness and rugged terrain. New methods are needed to overcome these obstacles in order to evaluate Alaska’s geology and mineral resource potential.

Female and her cub-of-the-year
June 29, 2016

“The scenarios predicted by our models are encouraging in that there are clear actions that humans can take to improve the chances that healthy polar bear populations persist in the future.” - Todd Atwood, USGS

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.

Scientist laying cable in a field
June 1, 2016

Fate of Alaska's large carbon reserves could affect greenhouse gas concentration.

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. 

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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