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

Dabbling and Diving Duck Research

Dabbling and diving ducks, such as mallards, pintails and scaup, are widespread species throughout North America.  Additionally, their migratory flyways pass through Asia and North America overlap in Alaska.  Population trends of these species are closely tracked through aerial surveys by management agencies.  Results from these and other surveys are then used to formulate management actions...

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

Sea Duck Research

USGS research on sea ducks is designed to anticipate and address priority information needs of management agencies.  Additionally, work is focused on individual species biology, migration and population status and trends because until just recently, very little was known about sea ducks in Alaska.  

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

On this page, learn about USGS work on Beak Deformities and Boreal Partners in Flight.

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 and geographic position at one end of numerous migration pathways, Alaska is a critically important site for the world’s shorebirds. Thirty-seven shorebird species regularly breed in Alaska. Most of these species conduct epically long migrations to take advantage of abundant food resources, making Alaska a global resource for shorebirds. Shorebird research at the USGS Alaska...

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 terrestrial mammals, such as caribou and muskoxen, is critical for the management of these species and their habitats in Alaska.

Walruses resting on an ice floe
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...

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
Duck with various brown colored feathers
Date Published: July 13, 2017
Status: Active

Avian Influenza Research

Since 2006, the USGS Alaska Science Center has been part of the State and Federal interagency team for the detection and response to highly pathogenic (HPAI) viruses in North America. Avian influenza or "bird flu" is a viral disease that primarily infects domestic poultry and wild birds. Avian influenza viruses are naturally occurring in wild birds such as ducks, geese, swans, and gulls. These...

Filter Total Items: 2,397
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Year Published: 2019

Survival of Bristle-thighed Curlews equipped with externally mounted transmitters

Telemetry devices are widely used in avian research, but the degree to which the deployment of such devices affects the survival of study subjects is often not addressed. It is generally assumed that such effects are less pronounced in large-bodied species that conduct relatively short migrations and carry relatively light telemetry devices. We...

Ruthrauff, Daniel R.; Tibbitts, Lee; Patil, Vijay P.

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Year Published: 2019

Global sea-level contribution from Arctic land ice: 1971 to 2017

The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP) (AMAP, 2017) identifies the Arctic as the largest regional source of land ice to global sea-level rise in the 2003 to 2014 period. Yet, this contextualization ignores the longer perspective from in-situ records of glacier mass balance. Here, using 18 (> 55 °N latitude) glacier and ice cap mass...

Box, Jason E.; Colgan, William T.; Wouters, Bert; Burgess, David O; O'Neel, Shad; Thomson, Laura; Mernild, Sebastian H

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Year Published: 2019

Interannual snow accumulation variability on glaciers derived from repeat spatially extensive ground-penetrating radar surveys

There is significant uncertainty regarding the spatiotemporal distribution of seasonal snow on glaciers, despite being a fundamental component of glacier mass balance. To address this knowledge gap, we collected repeat, spatially extensive high-frequency ground-penetrating radar (GPR) observations on two glaciers in Alaska for five consecutive...

McGrath, Daniel J; Sass, Louis; O'Neel, Shad; McNeil, Christopher J.; Candela, Salvatore G; Baker, Emily; Marshall, Hans P.

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Year Published: 2019

Density‐dependent and phenological mismatch effects on growth and survival in lesser snow and Ross's goslings

Strong seasonality of high‐latitude environments imposes temporal constraints on forage availability and quality for keystone herbivores in terrestrial arctic ecosystems, including hyper‐abundant colonial geese. Changes in food quality due to intraspecific competition, or food availability relative to the breeding phenology of birds, may have...

Megan V. Ross; Ray T. Alisauskas; Douglas, David C.; Dana K. Kellett; Kiel L. Drake
Ross, M. V., R. T. Alisauskas, D. C. Douglas, D. K. Kellett, and K. L. Drake. Density-dependent and phenological mismatch effects on growth and survival in lesser snow and Ross’s goslings. J. Avian Biology. https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jav.01748

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Year Published: 2019

Delayed herbivory by migratory geese increases summer‐long CO2 uptake in coastal western Alaska

The advancement of spring and the differential ability of organisms to respond to changes in plant phenology may lead to ‘phenological mismatches’ as a result of climate change. One potential for considerable mismatch is between migratory birds and food availability in northern breeding ranges and these mismatches may have consequences for...

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

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Year Published: 2019

Changing station coverage impacts temperature trends in the Upper Colorado River Basin

Over the Upper Colorado River Basin (UCRB), temperatures in widely used gridded data products do not warm as much as mean temperatures from a stable set of U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations, located at generally lower elevations, in most months of the year. This is contrary to expectations of elevation-dependent warming, which...

McAfee, Stephanie A.; McCabe, Gregory J.; Gray, Stephen; Pederson, Gregory T.

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Year Published: 2019

Development of on-shore behavior among polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the southern Beaufort Sea: Inherited or learned?

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are experiencing rapid and substantial changes to their environment due to global climate change. Polar bears of the southern Beaufort Sea (SB) have historically spent most of the year on the sea ice. However, recent reports from Alaska indicate that the proportion of the SB subpopulation observed on-shore during late...

Lillie, K. M.; Gese, E. M.; Atwood, Todd C.; Sonsthagen, Sarah A.

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Year Published: 2019

Slope failure and mass transport processes along the Queen Charlotte Fault, southeastern Alaska

The Queen Charlotte Fault defines the Pacific–North America transform plate boundary in western Canada and southeastern Alaska for c. 900 km. The entire length of the fault is submerged along a continental margin dominated by Quaternary glacial processes, yet the geomorphology along the margin has never been systematically examined due to the...

Brothers, Daniel; Andrews, Brian D.; Walton, Maureen A. L.; H. Gary Greene; J. Vaughn Barrie; Miller, Nathaniel C.; ten Brink, Uri S.; East, Amy E.; Haeussler, Peter J.; Kluesner, Jared W.; Conrad, James E.

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Year Published: 2019

Phenotypic plasticity and climate change: Can polar bears respond to longer Arctic summers with an adaptive fast?

Plasticity in the physiological and behavioural responses of animals to prolonged food shortages may determine the persistence of species under climate warming. This is particularly applicable for species that can “adaptively fast” by conserving protein to protect organ function while catabolizing endogenous tissues. Some Ursids, including polar...

Whiteman, John P.; Harlow, Henry J.; Durner, George M.; Regher, Eric V; Amstrup, Steven C.; Ben-David, Merav

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Year Published: 2019

Monitoring and conservation of Japanese Murrelets and related seabirds in Japan

Of the 24 species in the Auk (or Alcidae) family of seabirds living in the northern hemisphere, 22 reside within the North Pacific Ocean. These “penguins of the north” use their small wings to “fly” underwater, some to more than 200 meters, where they catch and eat a variety of small fish and invertebrates. In terms of sheer numbers...

Piatt, John F.; Nelson, S Kim; Carter, Harry R

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Year Published: 2019

Size, growth, and density data for shallow-water sea urchins from Mexico to the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1956–2016

Size, growth, and density have been studied for North American Pacific coast sea urchins Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, S. droebachiensis, S. polyacanthus, Mesocentrotus (Strongylocentrotus) franciscanus, Lytechinus pictus, Centrostephanus coronatus, and Arbacia stellata by various workers at diverse sites and for varying lengths of time from...

Ebert, Thomas A; Barr, Louis; Bodkin, James L.; Burcham, Dirk; Bureau, Dominique; Carson, Henry; Caruso, Nancy; Caselle, Jennifer E.; Claisse, Jeremy; Clemente, Sabrina; Davis, Kathryn; Detwiler, Paul; Dixon, John; Duggins, David; Engle, John; Estes, James; Groth, Scott; Grupe, Benjamin; Halmay, Peter; Hebert, Kyle; Hernandez, Jose Carlos; Jurgens, Laura J.; Kalvass, Peter; Kenner, Michael C.; Konar, Brenda; Kushner, David; Lee, Lynn; Leighton, David; Montano-Moctezuma, Gabriela; Munk, Eric; Olguin Espinoza, Irma; Weitzman, Ben

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Year Published: 2019

U-Pb and Lu-Hf isotope, age, and trace-element data from zircons at four sites in the western Alaska Range and Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska

This Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys (DGGS) Raw Data File presents U-Pb geochronology and Lu-Hf isotopic compositions, age-dating results, and additional trace-elemental composition of zircons from four granitoids sampled during investigations by DGGS geologists in the western Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. The purpose...

Todd, Erin; Kylander-Clark, Andrew R. C. ; Wypych, Alicja; Twelker, Evan; Sicard, Karri R.
Todd, Erin, Kylander-Clark, Andrew, Wypych, Alicja, Twelker, Evan, and Sicard, K.R., 2017, U-Pb and Lu-Hf isotope, age, and trace-element data from zircons at four sites in the western Alaska Range and Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska: Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys Raw Data File 2017-2, 7 p. http://doi.org/10.14509/29717

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
Map of coastline showing lines that ships followed, collecting data along the way, near labeled sites of earthquakes.
December 31, 2017

Research vessel tracklines offshore of southeast Alaska

Tracklines along which R/V Ocean Starr (2017, red lines) and R/V Norseman (2016, black lines) conducted seismic-reflection surveys, overlaid on high-resolution bathymetry (color background). Yellow stars represent earthquakes of magnitude (M) 7 and greater since 1900. Short yellow lines are locations of seismic-reflection profiles (shown below) along 

...
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.

A field of peatland surrounded by spruce and other understory plants in Alaska. Mountains can be seen in the background.
August 30, 2017

Thawing Peatlands, Alaska

Cores were collected from various areas of thawing permafrost-peatlands in Alaska. Permafrost thaw results in ground subsidence and inundation that kills black spruce and other understory plants living on the permafrost plateau. 

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
June 26, 2012

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Shrews are among a diverse group of small mammals that have rapidly evolved in response to climate change, according to a new study released this month.

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

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.