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
- Natural attenuation of chlorinated hydrocarbons in active groundwater and surface-water systems, Fort Wainwright, Alaska This project investigated the natural-attenuation and biogeochemical processes occurring in a contaminated active ground-water and surface-water system on Fort Wainwright, Alaska. The project was conducted in cooperation with the USGS and the U.S. Army Environmental Center.
- Arctic Transitions in the Land-Atmosphere System (ATLAS) This NSF-supported project provides access to environmental climate data from Ivotuk, North of the Brooks Range to Kougarok and Council on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula.
- The Role of Fire in Permafrost Terrain in the Boreal Forest The FROSTFIRE project is an interagency effort supported by the National Science Foundation, the Alaska Fire Service, and the Canadian and US Forest Services.
- Hydrology Projects at LTER Caribou Poker Creeks Research Watershed The long range goal of this NSF-funded project was to develop a broad understanding and the capability to model the interdependence of spatially distributed hydrologic processes and ecological regimes across watershed scales.
- Ground-Water Modeling on High-Performance Computing Platforms This project investigated the applications of USGS ground-water numerical modeling codes on High-Performance Computing (HPC) platforms. Project cooperators included The Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, the Department of Defense, U.S Army Alaska, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Alaska.
- Humans, Water and Climate Change The overall objective of this NSF-supported project was to understand the vital role of freshwater in the lives of humans in the Arctic, how it has changed in the recent past, and how it is likely to change in the future. Collaborators included researchers from UAF as well as the University of Alaska Anchorage.
- Temporal Variation of Hydrology in Arctic Alaska Meteorologic and hydrologic data originating from a series of NSF-sponsored projects located in the Kuparuk River Watershed.
- North Slope Lakes: Hydrology and Water Use Hydrologic information on lakes, weather conditions, and related information on the North Slope, Alaska. This project was conducted in cooperation with Geo-Watersheds Scientific, BP Exploration, ConocoPhillips Alaska and other cooperators.
- Sagavanirktok River/Bullen Point Hydrology Study This project, funded by the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, 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.