Unified Interior Regions

Region 11: Alaska

Alaska Science Center

Alaska Science Center

4210 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7000

View Center Website

Volcano Science Center

Volcano Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 786-7497

View Center Website

Climate Adaptation Science Center

Climate Adaptation Science Center

4230 University Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: 907-301-7830

View Center Website

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USGS in Alaska engages approximately 400 scientists and support staff working across 3 major centers with a combined annual science budget of about $65 million. In just the last 5 years, USGS in Alaska has produced scientific benefits resulting from over 1000 publications and about 250 Technical Reports.

USGS publications for Alaska

Alaska Science Portal

AK CASC Projects

Alaska Volcano Observatory  

Filter Total Items: 169
Date published: April 26, 2018
Status: Active

Marine Ecosystems

The USGS conducts research on marine wildlife, habitats, and processes to provide science to inform our partners as they make decisions relative to species status, resource use, and human activities.

Date published: April 26, 2018
Status: Active

Hazards in Alaska

A major goal of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is to reduce the vulnerability of the people and areas most at risk from natural hazards. Working with partners throughout all sectors of society, the USGS provides information, products, and knowledge to help build more resilient communities. This site provides important links to a number of hazard related internet sites that provide important...

Date published: April 25, 2018
Status: Active

Arctic Lake Food Webs

From 2011 to 2013 we investigated freshwater food webs of Arctic Coastal Plain lakes in Alaska to improve our understanding how Arctic freshwater food webs may respond to landscape change the warmer, drier future.

Date published: April 24, 2018
Status: Active

Ecosystem Shifts in Arctic Seas

In addition to the direct effects of sea ice loss on walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) and polar bears (Ursus maritimus) that use ice as a platform, the decline of Arctic sea ice is predicted to promote a fundamental ecosystem shift from benthic animals that forage on the sea floor to pelagic animals that forage near the sea surface. 

Date published: April 24, 2018
Status: Active

Lake Trout Biochronologies as Long-term Climate and Productivity Indicators in Alaska Lake Ecosystems

High latitude ecosystems are among the most vulnerable to long-term climate change, yet continuous, multidecadal indicators by which to gauge effects on biology are scarce, especially in freshwater environments.

Contacts: Vanessa von Biela, Ph.D., Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., Bryan Black, Randy J. Brown, Dan Young
Date published: April 19, 2018
Status: Active

Primary Production Sources and Bottom-up Limitations in Nearshore Ecosystems

Kelp forests are among the world’s most productive habitats, but recent evidence suggests that production is highly variable.

Contacts: James L Bodkin, Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., David Douglas, Gordon Kruse, Franz Mueter
Date published: April 18, 2018
Status: Active

Hydro-Ecology of Arctic Thawing (HEAT): Ecology

Permafrost thaw is leading to a myriad of changes in physical and chemical conditions throughout the Arctic.

Date published: April 18, 2018
Status: Active

Effect of Elodea spp. on Fish Performance Mediated Through Food Web Interactions

The potential for invasive species introductions in Arctic and Subarctic ecosystems is growing as climate change manifests and human activity increases in high latitudes.

Contacts: Michael P Carey, Ph.D., Suresh Andrew Sethi, Ph.D., Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., Dan Young, Gordon Reeves, Theresa Tanner
Date published: April 17, 2018
Status: Active

Sockeye Salmon Migrating at the Northern Edge of Their Distribution

The physiological challenge for anadromous fish to migrate upriver to spawn and complete their life cycle is influenced by river temperature.

Contacts: Michael P Carey, Ph.D., Stephen D McCormick, Amy Regish, Christian E Zimmerman, Ph.D., Kevin D. Keith, Merlyn Schelske, Charlie Lean
Date published: April 16, 2018
Status: Active

Nearshore Fish Surveys in the Beaufort Sea

Nearshore systems provide habitat to a unique community of marine and diadromous (lives in both fresh and saltwater) fish and support high fish abundance.

Date published: April 11, 2018
Status: Completed

Development and Validation of Hyperspectral Imager for Field and Lab Scanning

The Mineral Resources Program has advanced methods of imaging spectroscopy (hyperspectral remote sensing) that are now used routinely by the earth science and remote sensing communities for mineral mapping, soil quality mapping, hazard mitigation, and other terrestrial and planetary applications. The USGS is highly qualified to advance this technology based on its world class expertise in...

Contacts: Raymond Kokaly
Date published: April 3, 2018
Status: Active

Assessing heat stress in migrating Yukon River Chinook Salmon

We will examine evidence of heat stress in Yukon River Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) using heat shock proteins and gene expression.

USGS research activities relevant to Alaska have yielded more than 9400 historical publications. This page features some of the most recent newsworthy research findings.

Search USGS publications for Alaska

Arctic Science for Decision Maker

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report
Filter Total Items: 2,661
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Year Published: 2021

Seabird‐induced natural mortality of forage fish varies with fish abundance: Evidence from five ecosystems

Forage fish populations often undergo large and rapid fluctuations in abundance. However, most of their predators are buffered against such fluctuations owing to their slower pace of life, which allows them to maintain more stable populations, at least during short periods of food scarcity. In this study, we investigated top‐down processes exerted...

Saraux, Claire; Sydeman, William J.; Piatt, John F.; Anker-Nilssen, Tycho; Hentati-Sundberg, Jonas; Bertrand, Sophie; Cury, Philippe M.; Furness, Robert W.; Miller, James A.; Österblom, Henrik; Passuni, Giannina; Roux, Jean-Paul; Shannon, Lynne; Crawford, Robert J.M.

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Year Published: 2021

Diversity of diatoms, benthic macroinvertebrates, and fish varies in response to different environmental correlates in Arctic rivers across North America

Climate change poses a significant threat to Arctic freshwater biodiversity, but impacts depend upon the strength of organism response to climate‐related drivers. Currently, there is insufficient knowledge about Arctic freshwater biodiversity patterns to guide assessment, prediction, and management of biodiversity change.As part of the Circumpolar...

Lento, Jennifer; Laske, Sarah M.; Lavoie, Isabelle; Bogan, Daniel; Brua, Bob; Campeau, Stéphane; Chin, Krista; Culp, Joseph M.; Levenstein, Brianna; Power, Michael; Saulnier-Talbot, Émilie; Shaftel, Rebecca; Swanson, Heidi K.; Whitman, Matthew; Zimmerman, Christian E.

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Year Published: 2021

Lake trout growth is sensitive to spring temperature in southwest Alaska lakes

In high‐latitude lakes, air temperature is an important driver of ice cover thickness and duration, which in turn influence water temperature and primary production supporting lake consumers and predators. In lieu of multidecadal observational records necessary to assess the response of lakes to long‐term warming, we used otolith‐based growth...

von Biela, Vanessa R.; Black, Bryan A.; Young, Daniel B.; van der Sleen, Peter; Bartz, Krista K.; Zimmerman, Christian E.

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Year Published: 2020

Changing storm conditions in response to projected 21st century climate change and the potential impact on an arctic barrier island–lagoon system—A pilot study for Arey Island and Lagoon, eastern Arctic Alaska

Executive SummaryArey Lagoon, located in eastern Arctic Alaska, supports a highly productive ecosystem, where soft substrate and coastal wet sedge fringing the shores are feeding grounds and nurseries for a variety of marine fish and waterfowl. The lagoon is partially protected from the direct onslaught of Arctic Ocean waves by a barrier island...

Erikson, Li H.; Gibbs, Ann E.; Richmond, Bruce M.; Storlazzi, Curt D.; Jones, Benjamin M.; Ohman, Karin
Erikson, L.H., Gibbs, A.E., Richmond, B.M., Storlazzi, C.D., Jones, B.M., and Ohman, K.A., 2020, Changing storm conditions in response to projected 21st century climate change and the potential impact on an arctic barrier island–lagoon system—A pilot study for Arey Island and Lagoon, eastern Arctic Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2020–1142, 68, p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20201142.

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Year Published: 2020

Effects of fish populations on Pacific Loon (Gavia pacifica) and Yellow-billed Loon (G. adamsii) lake occupancy and chick production in northern Alaska

Predator populations are vulnerable to changes in prey distribution or availability. With warming temperatures, lake ecosystems in the Arctic are predicted to change in terms of hydrologic flow, water levels, and connectivity with other lakes. We surveyed lakes in northern Alaska to understand how shifts in the distribution or availability of fish...

Uher-Koch, Brian D.; Wright, Kenneth G.; Uher-Koch, Hannah R.; Schmutz, Joel A.

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Year Published: 2020

Alaska and Landsat

Alaska’s landscapes are changing at a more rapid rate than those of the lower 48. Its large size makes the collection of aerial surveys—a biannual occurrence for the conterminous United States—cost-prohibitive. That means the Landsat series of land imaging satellites offer the only publicly available, up-to-date imagery of land conditions for...

U.S. Geological Survey, 2020, Alaska and Landsat: U.S. Geological Survey Fact Sheet 2020–3068, 2 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/fs20203068.

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Year Published: 2020

Permafrost mapping with electrical resistivity tomography in two wetland systems north of the Tanana River, Interior Alaska

Surface-based 2D electrical resistivity tomography (ERT) surveys were used to characterize permafrost distribution at wetland sites on the alluvial plain north of the Tanana River, 20 km southwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, in June and September 2014. The sites were part of an ecologically-sensitive research area characterizing biogeochemical response...

Conaway, Christopher H.; Johnson, Cordell; Lorenson, Thomas; Turetsky, Merritt R.; Euskirchen, Eugénie S.; Waldrop, Mark; Swarzenski, Peter W.

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Year Published: 2020

2017 Volcanic activity in Alaska—Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory

The Alaska Volcano Observatory responded to eruptions, significant and minor volcanic unrest, and seismic events at 16 volcanic centers in Alaska during 2017. The most notable volcanic activity consisted of a major eruption at Bogoslof Island, continuing intermittent dome growth and ash eruptions from Mount Cleveland, the end of the Pavlof Volcano...

Dixon, James P.; Cameron, Cheryl E.; Iezzi, Alexandra M.; Power, John A.; Wallace, Kristi L.; Waythomas, Christopher F.
Dixon, J.P., Cameron, C.E., Iezzi, A.M., Power, J.A., Wallace, K., and Waythomas, C.F., 2020, 2017 Volcanic activity in Alaska—Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5102, 61 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205102.

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Year Published: 2020

2016 Volcanic activity in Alaska—Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory

The Alaska Volcano Observatory responded to eruptions, volcanic unrest or suspected unrest, and seismic events at 15 volcanic centers in Alaska during 2016. The most notable volcanic activity consisted of eruptions at Pavlof and Bogoslof volcanoes. Both eruptions produced significant ash clouds that affected regional air travel. Mount Cleveland...

Cameron, Cheryl E.; Dixon, James P.; Waythomas, Christopher F.; Iezzi, Alexandra M.; Wallace, Kristi L.; McGimsey, Robert G.; Bull, Katharine F.
Cameron, C.E., Dixon, J.P., Waythomas, C.F., Iezzi, A.M., Wallace, K.L., McGimsey, R.G., and Bull, K.F., 2020, 2016 Volcanic activity in Alaska—Summary of events and response of the Alaska Volcano Observatory: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2020–5125, 63 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/sir20205125.

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Year Published: 2020

Cretaceous to Oligocene magmatic and tectonic evolution of the western Alaska Range: insights from U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology

New U-Pb and 40Ar/39Ar ages integrated with geologic mapping and observations across the western Alaska Range constrain the distribution and tectonic setting of Cretaceous to Oligocene magmatism along an evolving accretionary plate margin in south-central Alaska. These rocks were emplaced across basement domains that include Neoproterozoic to...

Jones, James V.; Todd, Erin; Box, Stephen E.; Haeussler, Peter; Holm-Denoma, Christopher S.; Karl, Susan M.; Graham, Garth E.; Bradley, Dwight C.; Kylander-Clark, Andrew R.C.; Friedman, Richard M.; Layer, Paul W.

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Year Published: 2020

Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus)

This chapter comprises the following sections: names, taxonomy, subspecies and distribution, descriptive notes, habitat, movements and home range, activity patterns, feeding ecology, reproduction and growth, behavior, parasites and diseases, status in the wild, and status in captivity.

Rode, Karyn D.; Obbard, Martyn E.; Belikov, Stanislav; Derocher, Andrew E.; Durner, George M.; Thiemann, Gregory; Tryland, Morten; Letcher, Robert J.; Meyersen, Randi; Sonne, Christian; Jenssen, Bjorn; Dietz, Rune; Vongraven, Dag

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Year Published: 2020

How Is climate change affecting polar bears and giant pandas?

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are the primary cause of climate change and an estimated increase of 3.7 to 4.8 °C is predicted by the year 2100 if emissions continue at current levels. Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) provide an interesting comparison study of the impact of climate change on bear...

Songer, Melissa; Atwood, Todd C.; Douglas, David C.; Huang, Qiongyu; Li, Renqiang; Pilfold, Nicholas; Xu, Ming; Durner, George M.

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: 976
December 13, 2018

Aquatic Ecosystem Vulnerability to Fire and Climate Change

Fire is the dominant ecological disturbance process in boreal forests (coniferous forests consisting mostly of pines, spruces, and larches) and fire frequency, size and severity are increasing in Alaska owing to climate warming. However, interactions among fire, climate, permafrost, vegetation and hydrologic and watershed processes are poorly understood, yet critical for

2018 Potter Hill landslide 2, Anchorage, AK
December 7, 2018

2018 Potter Hill landslide 2, Anchorage, AK

Landslide from bluff below rail grade north of Rabbit Creek. Main scarp of slump/flow slide at Potter Hill. Railroad grade is to the left, tidal flat to the right. Note ponded drainage and disrupted slide material.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Chugiak extensional cracks, Chugiak, AK
December 5, 2018

Chugiak extensional cracks, Chugiak, AK

Extensional cracking and settling around private residence in Chugiak.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Ground crack at Sunset Park, Anchorage, AK
December 4, 2018

Ground crack at Sunset Park, Anchorage, AK

Crack observed in 2018 along headscarp of 1964 Government Hill landslide.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

2018 Potter Hill landslide 1, Anchorage, AK
December 1, 2018

2018 Potter Hill landslide 1, Anchorage, AK

Slumping along the Alaska Railroad right-of-way evolved into long-runout landslides. The same area failed in earthquakes in 1954 and 1964.

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Eagle River landslides, Eagle River, AK
December 1, 2018

Eagle River landslides, Eagle River, AK

Superficial slides along Eagle River east of Eagle River Loop Road. 

2018 Anchorage Earthquake

Eklutna Dam after 2018 Anchorage earthquake
December 1, 2018

Eklutna Dam after 2018 Anchorage earthquake

Eklutna Lake dam appeared to be undamaged the day after the earthquake; overflights of the lake showed no landslides impacted the lake shoreline.

November 30, 2018

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

This video presents a visualization of how the BP Exploration Building in Anchorage, Alaska, shook during the moment magnitude (Mw) 7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake. The building was instrumented by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to obtain data to study its behavior and performance during strong shaking. Such data are useful in making decisions about

November 30, 2018

Shaking of Atwood Building, Mw 7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage quake

This video presents a visualization of how the Atwood Building in Anchorage, Alaska, shook during the Mw 7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake. The building was instrumented by the U.S. Geological Survey to obtain data to study its behavior and performance during strong shaking. Such data are useful in making decisions about improving the performance of the

November 30, 2018

Shaking of Frontier Building, M7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage Quake

This video presents a visualization of how the Frontier Building in Anchorage, Alaska, shook during the moment magnitude (Mw) 7.0 November 30, 2018, Anchorage, Alaska, earthquake. The building was instrumented by U.S. Geological Survey to obtain data to study its behavior and performance during strong shaking. Such data are useful in making decisions about improving the

View from the sky of a very small, flat island that is completely man-made with a petroleum processing plant on it.
October 31, 2018

Endicott Island, Alaska

Endicott Island, and artificial island built in 1987 by Alaska Interstate Construction and is used by BP and Hilcorp Alaska for petroleum production.

Tanana River at Big Delta sonar and debris on a bridge
October 3, 2018

Tanana River at Big Delta sonar and debris on a bridge

Tanana River at Big Delta sonar and debris on a bridge

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

2020 USGS Alaska Annual Science Report

Filter Total Items: 255
collage of scientists conducting science related to each mission are
August 10, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In the 20th century, Baranof Island in Southeastern Alaska has drawn attention for its gold, chrome and nickel deposits, timber industry, potential activity of the dormant Mount Edgecumbe volcano, and for numerous commercially developed hot springs.

On top of North America!
July 23, 2015

A team of four climbers has recently returned from the highest point in North America with new survey data to determine a more precise summit height of Mount McKinley. It is anticipated the new elevation finding will be announced in late August.

Image: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Vessel Seen Through Bird Flock
July 16, 2015

The U.S. Geological Survey today released the North Pacific Pelagic Seabird Database — a massive online resource compiling the results of 40 years of surveys by biologists from the United States, Canada, Japan and Russia. The database documents the abundance and distribution of 160 seabird and 41 marine mammal species over a 10 million-square-mile region of the North Pacific.

Image: Long-Range Radar Station and Landfill
July 1, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — In a new study published today, scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey found that the remote northern Alaska coast has some of the highest shoreline erosion rates in the world. Analyzing over half a century of shoreline change data, scientists found the pattern is extremely variable with most of the coast retreating at rates of more than 1 meter a year.

Polar Bear Ecoregions: In the Seasonal Ice Ecoregion
June 30, 2015

Greenhouse gas emissions remain the primary threat to the preservation of polar bear populations worldwide. This conclusion holds true under both a reduced greenhouse gas emission scenario that stabilizes climate warming and another scenario where emissions and warming continue at the current pace, according to updated U.S. Geological Survey research models.

Mount McKinley landscape
June 15, 2015

A new GPS survey of Mount McKinley, the highest point in North America, will update the commonly accepted elevation of McKinley’s peak, 20,320 ft. The last survey was completed in 1953.

USGS science for a changing world logo
June 8, 2015

North America may have once been attached to Australia, according to research just published in Lithosphere and spearheaded by U.S. Geological Survey geologist James Jones and his colleagues at Bucknell University and Colorado School of Mines.

Map of basement domains
April 23, 2015

A map showing the many different pieces of Earth’s crust that comprise the nation’s geologic basement is now available from the U.S. Geological Survey.

USGS
April 8, 2015

A new scientific synthesis suggests a gradual, prolonged release of greenhouse gases from permafrost soils in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, which may afford society more time to adapt to environmental changes, say scientists in a paper published in Nature today. 

Image: Polar Bear at Rest
April 1, 2015

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A team of scientists led by the U.S. Geological Survey found that polar bears, increasingly forced on shore due to sea ice loss, may be eating terrestrial foods including berries, birds and eggs, but any nutritional gains are limited to a few individuals and likely cannot compensate for lost opportunities to consume their traditional, lipid-rich prey—ice seals.

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.