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Article Archive

Browse the ACRC news archive for current and past news articles.

Coastal research in a changing landscape

What does the future of the Gulf of Alaska look like in a changing climate?

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Jason at Montana Creek

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.

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Shellfish Clod Cards

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.

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Yellow Cedar Research

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.

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Suicide Basin Overflow2

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.

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helicopter_icefield

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.

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What does drought look like in Southeast Alaska?

The term drought brings to mind cracked earth, forest fires, and empty river beds, but at the Southeast Alaska Drought Workshop held in Juneau this week, a different type of drought was discussed.

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ACRC work highlighted in a New York Times article on glacial retreat

ACRC director Allison Bidlack, alongside USFS collaborators Ryan Bellmore and Adelaide Johnson, was featured in an interactive New York Times article on the disappearance of glaciers from the Pacific Northwest.

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Fish Traps Herbert River

By Rope, Raft, and Air: A season of research on glacier-dammed lakes

Rappelling down rock cliffs, rafting across glacial lakes, and traversing icy crevasses, all in the presence of a massive, ever-changing glacier – it's all part of the job for glaciologists monitoring glacial outburst floods (also known as jökulhlaups) in Alaska.

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Thinking Deep: Land, sea, and soil connections at the Coastal Rainforest Margins Research Network Workshop

In March, over 30 scientists from across the US, Canada, and as far as Germany stood on the soggy wetlands of Juneau’s Douglas Island during the third Coastal Rainforest Margins Research Network workshop.

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RCN group at wetlands site

Salmon density exacerbates low dissolved oxygen in Southeast Alaska streams

Stand above a salmon spawning stream in Southeast Alaska come late summer, and the sheer quantity of fish is impressive. Maneuvering through water sometimes barely higher than their gills, salmon are powerful ecosystem engineers that disturb sediment and fertilize rivers. This fall, a study published in Aquatic Sciences led by ACRC researchers Jason Fellman, Eran Hood, and Sonia Nagorski looked at how salmon may be changing the chemistry of streams they travel in.

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Salmon_Montana

Uncharted Waters: Streamflow modeling project in Southeast Alaska kicks off with stakeholder meetings

An effort to model the watersheds of southeast Alaska is coming to life as one of the AK CASC pilot projects.

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Herbert Stream Gauge