Catch the latest news from ACRC's scientists, staff, students, and partners.
Backcountry enthusiasts take to the slopes to improve snow models
For scientists collecting data deep in Alaska’s backcountry, there are few access roads and even fewer weather stations to be found. There are, however, dedicated winter recreationists traversing the landscape by ski, snowshoe, and snowmachine. These backcountry enthusiasts are being recruited by scientists to contribute to a growing dataset of snow depth observations that are improving our understanding of snow distribution in remote locations. Read More
Juneau students work with ACRC scientist to measure water quality
A steady curtain of rain falls over the banks of the Mendenhall River, but you’d never know it from the high spirits of Thunder Mountain students who have been working in the drenching conditions for over an hour. The students collect water samples in chest-high waders, armed with small vials and temperature probes. A group onshore inspects sediment and invertebrates collected from the stream bed. They are part of an ongoing program led by science educators Adriana Northcutt and Kristen Wells to engage eleventh- and twelfth-grade biology students in studying the Mendenhall watershed and impacts of water quality on salmon habitat. Read More
Dead trees could bring new life to southeast Alaska lumber mills
As climate change rapidly alters conditions in southeast Alaska, lower snowpack levels have caused a massive decline of yellow-cedar trees. Without an insulating blanket of snow, the shallow roots of yellow-cedar trees freeze during late spring cold snaps. Left behind is a growing expanse of “ghost forests” of dead yellow-cedars, affecting roughly 678,000 acres (nearly the area of Yosemite National Park). The decay-resistant properties of yellow-cedar allow the trees to remain standing for decades after death. ACRC director Allison Bidlack, and collaborators Brian Buma, Sarah Bisbing, and Brian Vander Naald, set out to determine whether these ghost stands might provide an economic opportunity for small lumber mills in Tongass National Forest.Read More
ACRC Researcher Jason Fellman Awarded EPSCoR Seed Grant
Jason Fellman (UAS) and Gwenn Hennon (UAF) were awarded an Alaska EPSCoR Seed Grant to investigate microbial community composition and productivity in nearshore waters in Lynn Canal. Using filtered water from two rivers (one heavily glaciated, one largely forested) and natural marine microbial communities collected in Lynn Canal in May 2020, they will test the hypothesis that riverine dissolved organic matter source influences the dynamics of the marine microbial community.Read More
Coastal research in a changing landscape
What does the future of the Gulf of Alaska look like in a changing climate?Read More
Paralytic shellfish toxins spike amidst new research
Shellfish harvesters and beachcombers wandering the shores around Juneau might have made an odd discovery this summer– a small white hunk of plaster under the water, strapped to a neatly labeled brick. These contraptions are part of an effort to better monitor and predict paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) levels, which were almost ten times higher this summer than at any time in the last three years.Read More
Can yellow-cedar recover from climate-driven declines?
Across the temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska, a change is taking root. Warming winters are reducing snowpack in the region and causing a massive decline in a culturally, economically, and ecologically important tree species; yellow-cedar. Yellow-cedar trees are adapted with fine, shallow roots that allow them to respond to early spring warming and get a head start on growth over other species. Once an advantageous adaptation, it has now made the species susceptible to freezing when early snowmelt and frosts can be fatal to mature yellow-cedar trees. In Alaska and British Columbia, yellow-cedar is declining across 400,000 hectares and ten degrees of latitude.Read More
Unique drainage event at Suicide Basin causes minor flooding in Juneau
As smoke from distant wildfires clouds the skies above Southeast Alaska, Juneau residents have a much closer hazard on their minds. Warm weather sped up water collection in Suicide Basin, a glacier-dammed lake adjoining Mendenhall Glacier that has generated outburst floods regularly over the last decade. On Sunday, July 7th, the basin water level reached a point where it began to overtop the Mendenhall Glacier ice dam, flowing along the side of the glacier towards Mendenhall Lake. Almost one week later, on July 13th, the basin began draining beneath the glacier. At Mendenhall Lake, the water level rose to 8.62 feet (just under minor flood stage) and peaked just after 8 P.M. – earlier and lower than predicted.Read More
Is glacier tourism changing the chemistry of the Juneau Icefield? ACRC supported graduate student wins National Geographic Society grant to find out.
Visiting graduate student Megan Behnke spent her last summer in Juneau deep in the mud, looking at how dissolved organic matter moves from wetlands into streams. This summer, she has something a few degrees cooler in store. Behnke was awarded a prestigious National Geographic Early Career Grant to investigate ancient carbon and the impacts of fossil fuels from tourism on the Juneau Icefield.Read More
Dim Future: Black carbon and dust are speeding up glacial melt on the Juneau Icefield
Are tiny, heat-absorbing particles accelerating the melt of the Juneau Icefield? A recent study led by UAS Assistant Professor of Geology and ACRC collaborator Sonia Nagorski found that dust and black carbon particles darkening the snow surface are speeding up snowmelt on the Icefield by days, or even weeks each year. The study also included UAS faculty Eran Hood and Jason Fellman, Susan Kaspari from Central Washington University, and McKenzie Skiles from the University of Utah.Read More