page last updated: 31 May 2013


Pie chart showing WERC research expenditure by source in FY12

WERC researchers conduct projects spanning a range of disciplines, complexity, and funding levels. During the 2012 fiscal year, for example, WERC hosted 69 separate research projects totaling $5.3 million in expenditure. Approximately 54% of research expenditure derived from federal sources, 37% from state sources, and 9% from private sources.

Alaska’s natural characteristics make it an ideal setting for environmental and water-related research. The climate is dominated by snow and ice, and the lands are topographically diverse. Much of the land is underlain by permafrost, and many mountainous areas are capped by glaciers. Alaska is rich in wilderness areas, houses more than 400,000 lakes greater than one hectare, discharges over one-third of the nation’s streamflow, and contains 38% of America’s coastline along with 46% of its wetlands.

As pressures to increase resource development in areas of mineral and oil extraction, forestry and fisheries in Alaska grow, it is imperative to find meaningful answers to questions about the arctic and subarctic ecosystems. Research is essential for striking a balance between human activity and sustainable use of Alaska’s natural bounty. WERC seeks, through a diverse set of research projects, to strike this balance.

Although most project data, results, or updates are delivered in the form of agency reports or peer-reviewed journal articles, WERC hosts some project-specific web pages in response to public needs and funding agency requirements. A partial list of project-specific links is included below. Don’t see the project you’re searching for? Contact Director Bill Schnabel for more information.

Selected Current Projects

  • NPR-A Hydrology WERC is currently collaborating with the Bureau of Land Management to collect and analyze information in the National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska
  • Fish Creek (NPR-A Hydrology) – Geomorphology, Hydrology, and Fish Habitat in the Context of Land-use and Climate Change Impacts.
  • North Slope Decision Support for Water Resources Planning and Management (NSDSS) The NSDSS is a data management, evaluation, and communication tool being developed to support ice road planning and decisionmaking on Alaska’s North Slope. The work is being funded by the US Department of Energy National Energy and Technology Laboratory.
  • PALIMMN As a continuation of IPY activities, WERC researchers are working with a team of scientists, teachers, and enthusiastic citizens to establish a methane bubbling monitoring program, the Pan-Arctic Lake-Ice Methane Monitoring Network (PALIMMN), with an education and outreach component, Student-PALIMMN.
  • Seward Peninsula Weather Stations A series of projects supported by NSF and others resulted in a weather monitoring network located on Alaska’s Seward peninsula.
  • Umiat Corridor Hydrology Study This project, funded by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, was one of a series of projects designed to support transportation planning and tundra travel on Alaska’s North Slope. The site contains links to project reports, meteorological, and hydrologic data.
  • Ambler Corridor Project
  • Jarvis Creek Watershed – Glaciers, permafrost and watershed hydrology in the context of basic science and community needs

Selected Past Projects