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
Snow Goose near the Colville River, northern Alaska
Date Published: January 19, 2018
Status: Active

Broad-scale Research Conducted Across the 1002 Area and the NPR-A of Alaska

Selected Bibliography of Broad-scale Research Involving USGS and Conducted Across the 1002 Area and the NPR-A of Alaska

Compiled as of 12/17/2018

coastal vulnerability of sea-level rise map
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

National Assessment of Coastal Vulnerability to Sea Level Rise

The original national coastal vulnerability index (CVI) assessment was motivated by expected accelerated sea-level rise (SLR) and the uncertainty in the response of the coastline to SLR. This research was conducted between 1999 and 2001, and is currently being updated using new data sources and methodology. This original study was part of the ...

A stream flowing from a small lake on the Arctic Coastal Plain
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

Alaska Science Center Previous Seminars

The USGS Alaska Science Center has a monthly seminar series that runs from October through May.  This series highlights the multiple research programs that are taking place across all disciplines at the center.

Listed below are previous seminars given.

Contacts: Yvette Gillies
Oblique aerial photograph looking to the southwest along the southern end of Cedar Island, Virginia
Date Published: January 18, 2018
Status: Active

Long-Term Coastal Change

Goals of this task include developing and improving coastal-change assessments and supporting long-term planning and decision making to ensure sustainable coastal economies, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

A view of the R/V Alaskan Gyre with a glacier in the background in Harriman Fjord in Prince William Sound, Alaska
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...

Female and two cubs polar bears on the sea ice
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...

A polar bear walks across rubble ice in the Alaska portion of the southern Beaufort Sea
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...

Polar bear appears to walk on top of rippled gray water. Just behind it are very large breaking waves below a gray-blue sky.
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...

Polar bear still hunting at a seal breathing hole
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...

Chilkat River
Date Published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Chilkat River

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

Contacts: Jeff Conaway
Alsek River with helicopter landed next to it
Date Published: December 7, 2017
Status: Active

Alsek River

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

Contacts: Jeff Conaway
Filter Total Items: 2,396
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Year Published: 2019

Cloud cover and delayed herbivory relative to timing of spring onset interact to dampen climate change impacts on net ecosystem exchange in a coastal Alaskan wetland

Rapid warming in northern ecosystems over the past four decades has resulted in earlier spring, increased precipitation, and altered timing of plant–animal interactions, such as herbivory. Advanced spring phenology can lead to longer growing seasons and increased carbon (C) uptake. Greater precipitation coincides with greater cloud cover possibly...

Leffler, Josh; Beard, Karen H.; Kelsey, Katharine C.; Choi, Ryan T.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Welker, Jeffrey

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Year Published: 2019

Monitoring annual trends in abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2018

A lagoon-wide, point-sampling survey of eelgrass (Zostera marina) abundance was conducted in Izembek Lagoon, Alaska, August 7–16, 2018, the ninth year of annual surveys (2007–11, 2015–18). Mean predicted aboveground biomass of eelgrass across 116 sampled points was 238 grams per square meter (g m-2) (95 percent confidence interval: 203–278 g m-2)...

Ward, David H.; Amundson, Courtney L.
Ward, D.H., and Amundson, C.L., 2019, Monitoring annual trends in abundance of eelgrass (Zostera marina) at Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, 2018: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019-1042, 8 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191042.

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Year Published: 2019

Phenological mismatch between season advancement and migration timing alters Arctic plant traits

1. Climate change is creating phenological mismatches between herbivores and their plant resources throughout the Arctic. While advancing growing seasons and changing arrival times of migratory herbivores has been shown to have consequences for herbivores and forage quality, developing mismatches are also likely to influence other traits of plants...

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

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Year Published: 2019

Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan, Version III

In recognition of declines among perhaps half of Alaska’s breeding shorebirds, ongoing or emerging threats to shorebirds and their habitats, and considerable knowledge of Alaska’s shorebirds acquired over the past decade, the Alaska Shorebird Group decided that the Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan was due for updates. Similar to Version II (2008...

Ruthrauff, Daniel R.
Alaska Shorebird Group. 2019. Alaska Shorebird Conservation Plan. Version III. Alaska Shorebird Group, Anchorage, AK, https://www.fws.gov/alaska/mbsp/mbm/shorebirds/plans.htm

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Year Published: 2019

Satellite tracking of gulls and genomic characterization of fecal bacteria reveals environmentally mediated acquisition and dispersal of antimicrobial resistant Escherichia coli on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska

Gulls (Larus spp.) have frequently been reported to carry Escherichia coli exhibiting antimicrobial resistance (AMR E. coli); however, the pathways governing the acquisition and dispersal of such bacteria are not well-described. We equipped 17 landfill-foraging gulls with satellite transmitters and collected gull fecal samples longitudinally from...

Ahlstrom, Christina; Bonnedahl, Jonas; Woksepp, Hanna; Hernandez, Jorge; Reed, John; Tibbitts, Lee; Olsen, Björn; Douglas, David C.; Ramey, Andrew M.

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Year Published: 2019

The rise of an apex predator following deglaciation

AimSea otters (Enhydra lutris) are an apex predator of the nearshore marine community and nearly went extinct at the turn of the 20th century. Reintroductions and legal protection allowed sea otters to re‐colonize much of their former range. Our objective was to chronicle the colonization of this apex predator in Glacier Bay, Alaska, to help...

Hooten, Mevin B.; Esslinger, George G.

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Year Published: 2019

Changes in behavior are unable to disrupt a trophic cascade involving a specialist herbivore and its food plant

Changes in ecological conditions can induce changes in behavior and demography of wild organisms, which in turn may influence population dynamics. Pacific black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) nesting in colonies on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) in western Alaska have declined substantially (~50%) since the turn of the century. Pacific black...

Lohman, Madeleine G; Riecke, Thomas V.; Acevedo, Cheyenne R; Person, Brian T.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Uher-Koch, Brian D.; Sedinger, James S.

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Year Published: 2019

Energetic costs of aquatic locomotion in a subadult polar bear

Most marine mammals rely on swimming as their primary form of locomotion. These animals have evolved specialized morphologies, physiologies, and behaviors that have enabled them to efficiently move through an aquatic environment (Williams 1999). Such adaptations include body streamlining, modified plantar surfaces for propulsion, and...

Pagano, Anthony M.; Cutting, Amy; Nicassio-Hiskey, Nicole; Hash, Amy; Williams, Terrie M.

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Year Published: 2019

Serologic evidence for influenza A virus exposure in three loon species (Gavia spp.) breeding in Alaska

Limited information exists about exposure to influenza A viruses (IAVs) in many wild waterbird species, including loons. We analyzed serum samples from breeding adult Pacific (Gavia pacifica), Red-throated (Gavia stellata), and Yellow-billed (Gavia adamsii) loons sampled at three locations along the coast of Alaska, US from 2008 to 2017 to gain a...

Uher-Koch, Brian D.; Spivey, Timothy J.; Van Hemert, Caroline R.; Schmutz, Joel A.; Jiang, Kaijun; Wan, Xiu-Feng; Ramey, Andrew M.

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Year Published: 2019

Energy allocation and feeding ecology of juvenile chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) during transition from freshwater to saltwater

Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) populations near their northern range extent in the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim region of Alaska have undergone major changes in population trajectory and illuminated the lack of basic information on juvenile ecology. This study fills information gaps on the early life history of chum salmon at northern latitudes....

Burril, Sean E.; von Biela, Vanessa R.; Hillbruber, Nicola; Zimmerman, Christian E.

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Year Published: 2019

Measurement of long-term channel change through repeated cross-section surveys at bridge crossings in Alaska

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been working with Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) since 1993 to provide hydraulic assessments of scour for bridges throughout Alaska. The purpose of the program is to evaluate, monitor, and study streambed scour at bridges in Alaska; this includes surveying streambed...

Dworsky, Karenth L.; Conaway, Jeffrey S.
Dworsky, K.L., and Conaway, J.S., 2019, Measurement of long-term channel change through repeated cross-section surveys at bridge crossings in Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2019-1028, 118 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20191028.

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Year Published: 2019

Extreme reduction in nutritional value of a key forage fish during the Pacific marine heatwave of 2014–2016

Pacific sand lance Ammodytes personatus are a key forage fish in the North Pacific for many species of salmon, groundfish, seabirds, and marine mammals and have historically been important to predators in relatively warm years. However, extreme declines in the nutritional value of sand lance in Prince William Sound, Alaska, USA, during...

von Biela, Vanessa R.; Arimitsu, Mayumi L.; Piatt, John F.; Heflin, Brielle; Schoen, Sarah K.; Trowbridge, Jannelle; Clawson, Chelsea

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: 986
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.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

Two people stand atop a coastal cliff where the grassy edges are beginning to fall off onto the beach below.
July 3, 2018

Barter Island coastal bluff studies

Scientists Cordell Johnson, left, and Li Erikson stand atop the coastal bluff of Barter Island in northern Alaska, a coastal area that is experiencing very high rates of erosion.

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

Eroding bluffs in Kaktovik

View looking east of the actively eroding coastal permafrost bluff on Barter Island, which is located on the northern coast of Alaska.

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.

Two birds grabbing fish out of the ocean
June 28, 2018

Black-legged Kittiwakes forage on Pacific sand lance and capelin

Black-legged Kittiwakes forage on Pacific sand lance and capelin near their colony on Gull Island, Cook Inlet on June 28, 2018. 

A female McKay's Bunting songbird standing on the ground
June 17, 2018

Female McKay's Bunting on St. Matthew Island

Female McKay's Bunting on St. Matthew Island.

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

2019 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 247
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.

Lidar image showing the upper parts of the landslide that occurred in northwest Washington on March 22, 2014.
May 14, 2014

Want to know how elevation will benefit your state? The USGS National Geospatial Program is advancing the 3D Elevation Program, known as 3DEP, in response to the growing need for high-quality three-dimensional representations of the Nation’s natural and constructed features.

USGS science for a changing world logo
April 30, 2014

The coastal geology of Simeonof Island, the southeastern-most island in the Shumagin archipelago of the Aleutian Islands, suggests the region has not experienced a great megathrust earthquake in at least the past 3,400 years.

US Topo map of the Cass, West Virginia quadrangle, March 2014.
April 24, 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. Improvements to symbol definitions (color, line thickness, line symbols, area fills), layer order, and annotation fonts are additional features of this supplemental release.

USGS
March 27, 2014

Ever since the great magnitude 9.2 earthquake shook Alaska 50 years ago today, scientists have suspected that the quake's rupture halted at the southwestern tip of Kodiak Island due to a natural barrier.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 20, 2014

Why does the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake Matter 50 Years Later? Scientific experts will talk about a half-century of scientific and monitoring advances triggered by the 1964 events.

Houses damaged in the 1964 earthquake
March 19, 2014

The U.S. Geological Survey has released two new videos about the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964 to commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States. The videos include rare vintage film footage and photos of the earthquake damage, combined with modern interviews with some of the same scientists who first investig

Uplifted sea floor at Cape Cleare on Montague Island in Prince William Sound.
March 18, 2014

To commemorate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the largest earthquake ever recorded in the United States, the U.S. Geological Survey has reissued a series of landmark reports covering the results of investigations of the Great Alaska Earthquake of March 27, 1964.

USGS science for a changing world logo
March 11, 2014

A recent U.S. Geological Survey-led study of the bar-tailed godwit, a shorebird known famously as the ultimate marathon champion of bird flight, suggests that these birds can sense broad weather patterns and optimally time their long, nonstop, transoceanic migrations to destinations thousands of miles away. 

Sea otter in kelp
February 28, 2014

Nearly 25 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill injured wildlife off the coast of Alaska, a new report issued today by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that sea otters have returned to pre-spill numbers within the most heavily oiled areas of Prince William Sound.

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.