Research and Products (click on each project title for in-depth information)
Alaska Climate Dispatch: A state-wide seasonal outlook and summary
The quarterly Alaska Climate Dispatch is a newsletter-style document
that provides stakeholders with seasonal weather and climate summaries
as well as Alaska weather, wildfire, and sea ice outlooks in one easily
accessible document. Guest columnists may provide information on
related topics such as El Niño and El Niña, hydrology, and permafrost.
Interpretive and clearly written text, full-color pictures, charts, and maps
provide decision-makers with a timely snapshot of a wide range of
Alaska’s diverse weather and climate issues. The Alaska Climate Dispatch
is distributed electronically and made available on the ACCAP website.
Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Forested Ecosystems of Alaska
ACCAP and the Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning
have partnered with the Pacific Northwest Research Station
to assess the climate change impacts on forested ecosystems in all regions of Alaska. Stakeholder involvement is a significant component of this project. This assessment will include identifying historical long-term datasets, determining key current patterns and processes that are important to stakeholders, and projecting those key patterns and processes into the future under various climate change scenarios. Specific components are to review and synthesize existing knowledge, provide a baseline and scenarios of change, and identify data gaps and uncertainties.
Cross-Regional Dialogue: Climate Change, Water Impacts and Indigenous People.
With global temperatures on the rise, the impact of drought on
water supplies and ecosystems can only be expected to increase in
the coming years. Being prepared by better understanding drought
planning innovations and the array of monitoring and forecasting
resources may help reduce vulnerabilities and avert disasters.
This project, supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA), aims to use modern communication technologies
to open a dialogue among tribal and indigenous decisionmakers
and resource managers from Alaska, the US Southwest, and
the Pacific Islands as well as climate scientists from these regions.
Alaska Climate Data Downscaling Workshop
This inaugural event of the DOI Alaska Climate Science Center created a forum for scientists and managers in Alaska to explore state-of-the-science techniques and methodologies for downscaling climate data; understand current science capacities applicable to Alaska; learn about new initiatives and future capacity in Alaska; and discuss science and management relevant needs for the State of Alaska. The workshop goal was to identify a science action plan that provides capacity building recommendations and proposes a research agenda to address State needs. A white paper report addressing Alaska's downscaling capacities and needs is in progress.
Decision-Making for At Risk Communities in a Changing Climate
Many communities in Alaska are faced with multiple threats to infrastructure
and quality of life due, in part, to projected changes in precipitation,
temperature, and related incidences of flooding and erosion. We have
developed a guide with a matrix approach to communities at risk so that
decision-makers are well informed on planning related to climate change
and uncertainty, risk management, and relocation. The guide includes steps
from planning through execution, perspectives on community engagement,
partial relocation, site development costs, and timing. Sustainability
recommendations focus on defining sustainability, future energy planning,
planning for a changing cost of living, and available transportation corridors.
Estimating Future Costs for Alaska Public Infrastructure at Risk to Climate Change
Scientists expect Alaska's climate to get warmer over time—and the changing climate could make it roughly 10% to 20% more expensive to build and maintain public infrastructure in Alaska between now and 2030 and 10% more expensive between now and 2080. These are preliminary estimates of how much climate warming could increase the future costs for roads, harbors, schools, the power grid, sewer systems, and all the other public infrastructure that keeps Alaska functioning. This project provides background about recent climate change in Alaska and provides preliminary estimates of future infrastructure costs, using data from the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
ACCAP PhD student Eunkyoung Hong's dissertation focuses on the estimation of additional costs caused by climate change in the field of public infrastructure. Also, through the regulatory (mitigation) scenario, this study will anticipate the avoidable costs as well.
Evaluation of Fire Forecast Products to Enhance U.S. Drought Preparedness and Response
As the scientific community clarifies its understanding of how climate and wildfire interact, an increasing amount of effort and resources are being spent to deliver this science to the US wildfire community. One model that has shown great promise consists of the National Seasonal Assessment workshops (NSAW, click here for the 2009 report) and the Significant Fire Potential Outlooks produced during these annual workshops and monthly conference calls. However, it is not well documented who uses these outlooks, how they use them, or if the outlooks provide any economic benefit. This cross-RISA (CLIMAS, CAP, ACCAP) drought project will assess the impact the NSAW seasonal and monthly fire outlooks have on decision makers across the
agencies who collaborate to plan for and manage wildfires in the Western U.S. This project will evaluate
who is using these outlooks and how they are being used in order to: 1) provide immediate (next year)
input into the production and distribution of these products and 2) begin to build a seasonal fire decision
analysis framework to help identify where additional resources are most efficiently spent by better
understanding and quantifying uncertainties in current decision making.
Improving Seasonal Fire Predictions and Information Services in Alaska for Regional and National Fire Resource Planning
Predictive capacity for Alaska fire falls behind what is available in the lower 48 states. Increases in wildfire frequency, severity, duration, and total area burned are among the most significant expected ecological effects of climate warming. Two of the three most extensive wildfire seasons in Alaska’s 50-year record occurred in 2004 and 2005 and 60% of the largest fire years have occurred since 1990 (Kasischke et al. 2006). Designed in close collaboration with fire managers from a range of state and federal agencies participating in the Alaska WildlandFire Coordination Group, this project takes advantage of the strong weather/fire link in Alaska to produce estimates for the severity of the 2009 and 2010 fire seasons. In collaboration with CLIMAS, we are presently utilizing these results to draft a web-based decision-support tool that will help Alaska fire mangers adapt to a changing climate in their suppression and natural resource planning.
2013 National Climate Assessment
ACCAP is partnering with US Geological Survey and others throughout
the state as lead contributors to the Alaska regional section of the 2013
NCA. We will host a National Climate Assessment-related workshop
at the Alaska Forum on the Environment in February 2012. We are
committed to receiving input from throughout the state and welcome
participation from everyone.
Ocean Acidification Video
ACCAP has produced a new four-minute video on ocean acidification in Alaska. We worked with UAF's Dr. Jeremy Mathis to describe what ocean acidification is and how it might impact Alaska. This is the first in a series of short Alaska climate change videos that ACCAP will produce.
To download the ACCAP ocean acidification video, click here (92MB WMV) or here (183MB MP4). Please e-mail ACCAP to request a DVD
Review of Sea-Ice & Related Climate Information Resources for Alaska's Arctic Coastal Communities: A Manual for Accessing & Using Online Information
This manual’s purpose is to improve the availability of current information about sea ice. We hope it will provide Arctic Alaska coastal communities with an up-to-date, comprehensive, and practical guide to sea-ice and climate information resources that will assist with their planning, subsistence activities, and way of life. The resources and tutorials in this manual are organized within five main types of sea ice information:
Sea ice concentration, extent, and type
Location and extent of multi-year sea ice
Sea ice leads, open water, and shorefast ice extent
Local sea ice observatories at Barrow and Wales, Alaska
Sea ice summaries
Sea Ice Project
Alaska has approximately 44,000 miles of coastline, more than that in the rest of the U.S. Alaska is also the only state in which large portions of the coastline are affected by sea ice. Sea ice is present along or close to the northern coast for 8-10 months of the year, and it affects much of the western coastline for at least several months of most years. The presence of sea ice is a major factor in the lives of many western and northern Alaskan coastal communities, for whom a stable ice cover is essential as a buffer against coastal storms, as a platform for offshore activity, and as a marine environmental feature essential for the survival of animals such as walrus, polar bears and seals. Coastal flooding and erosion, exacerbated in recent years by the retreat of sea ice, has been highlighted in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
. In addition, information on present and forecasted sea ice conditions is vital for several of Alaska’s major industries: fishing, marine transportation and offshore resource extraction. The needs point to the importance of a synthesis of information on Alaskan sea ice conditions to serve the climate services and operational forecasting sectors, and, ultimately, stakeholders affected by sea ice.
Snow, Ice and Permafrost Hazards in Alaska: Research needs and opportunities
On June 13, 2011, ACCAP partnered with scientists at UAF's Geophysical Institute and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys (DGGS) to co-sponsor a workshop entitled "Snow, Ice and Permafrost Hazards in Alaska: Research needs and opportunities." The workshop was designed to provide a forum for scientists and managers to identify information and research needs of state agencies and other organizations working directly with the State of Alaska on issues that are potentially impacted by hazards associated with snow, ice and permafrost. Participants were asked to fill out a pre-workshop survey (results in "Resources" section). The information provided was used for planning and development of the workshop and may assist in identifying potential future collaborations. The outcome of the workshop will guide research planning and implementation at the University of Alaska Fairbanks on snow, ice and permafrost with the goal of meeting the state's research, training and information needs.
The Synergistic Effects of Climate Change and Land Use in the Upper Yukon River Watershed
There are seven rural communities in the Yukon Flats, with Fort Yukon as the primary hub and service center; all of the villages are home to a large Alaskan Gwich’in and a smaller Koyukon Athabascan population. Partly because of an important historical and cultural connection to hunting and fishing, and partly because of the fact that a large segment of the population now lives below the poverty level as defined by the federal government, rural residents throughout the Yukon Flats depend on subsistence hunting and fishing and country foods (plants and animals) for survival and community well-being. The cumulative and synergistic effects of global climate, land use, and economic changes create scenarios of real and perceived stability and instability in interior rural Alaskan communities, with local stakeholders having relatively little access to and influence over scientific findings, policy development, and decision making about the same by federal and state land managers. An integrated assessment of the consequences of the impacts of climate variability and change and stakeholder needs for weather and climate products will be strategically implemented throughout the five year project. The central partner organization for this project is the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments (CATG), which represents the tribal chiefs of the seven regional villages on matters of natural resource management and development, as well as about matters of subsistence and health and well-being for all village resource users. The collaboration will include contributions by John Walsh on climate, Terry Chapin on fire ecology and ecosystem issues, and Larry Duffy on contaminants, perceptions of food quality, the impact of contaminants on ecosystem stability and change, and on the relationship between contaminants flows and concentrations and climate change.
Tundra Lakes Project
This research provides an assessment of the physical, biological and chemical implications of mid-winter pumping of tundra ponds. The oil industry and support services withdraw water from freshwater lakes and ponds to build ice roads and pads in the Arctic for increased access to remote sites. This technique allows oil field development or maintenance while avoiding the environmental disturbance associated with construction of gravel roads and pads. British Petroleum Exploration, Conoco-Phillips Alaska Inc., the Nature Conservancy, and the Northern Alaska Environmental Center have joined this investigation as committed and active partners and the projects is funded by the Department of Energy. Scientists from the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources and Bureau of Land Management work with ACCAP to see the project through completion.
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