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Analysis of a persistent late-freezing open water zone on the Tanana River

  • Project Student PI: Matthew Scragg

Many Alaskans depend on frozen rivers for wintertime travel. Open water areas (a.k.a. open leads) on frozen rivers are a poorly understood phenomena that create hazards for frozen river travelers.

We are monitoring the flow conditions at one persistent open lead on the Tanana River to better understand the processes that contribute to the formation of open leads under various flow and weather conditions.

We are measuring channel geometry, water temperature, and hydraulic conditions at this open lead throughout the 2023-2024 winter season to identify the physical properties and related mechanisms that control the occurrence of this open water zone. We deployed time lapse cameras to monitor ice progression throughout the '23-'24 winter season, and are using satellite remote sensing to place this open water lead into the context of past years' atmospheric and hydraulic conditions.