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Recent Articles

Catch the latest news from ACRC's scientists, staff, students, and partners.

From Glaciers to Streams: Understanding the Shifts in Southeast Alaska's Aquatic Communities

Rapid glacial retreat across Southeast Alaska is reshaping coastal watersheds from the base of the food web up, and shifting invertebrate communities could lead to less stable aquatic communities as unique hydrologic conditions in glacial and snow-fed streams disappear. Former ACRC graduate student Matt Dunkle recently published a new research paper that explores how the diversity of water sources in Southeast Alaska influences freshwater invertebrate community diversity and productivity. 

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From undergraduate to graduate studies, former ACRC intern Connor Johnson thrives in water quality research

Each year, UAS student interns make critical contributions to ongoing research efforts at ACRC. You’ll find them on bikes or skis headed out to collect water samples, set minnow traps,  measure glacial outflow, or dig soil pits. These motivated students spend their internships earning credits toward their degrees, learning lab skills, presenting findings at conferences, and exploring career paths in research. In 2017, Connor Johnson was one such student. His passion for working outdoors and growing interest in natural sciences brought him to the UAS environmental science program. As his academic advisor, ACRC researcher and UAS professor of environmental science Eran Hood invited him to apply for a summer internship with ACRC.

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Mollie & Connor at Montana Creek Confluence

Stream hydrology impacts whether salmon can capitalize on pink salmon nutrients, new research suggests

Each July, Juneau’s streams fill with an abundant, nutrient-dense resource from the ocean: spawning pink salmon. The arrival of pink salmon eggs into coastal watersheds brings a large pulse of nutrients to freshwater ecosystems, marking an important phase of growth for stream-rearing salmon before they smolt and begin their sea-ward migration. New research, led by ACRC graduate student Kevin Fitzgerald, points to stream hydrology as an important factor influencing whether juvenile salmon are able to capitalize on the pink salmon resource pulse.

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High spatial variability in the export of terrestrial carbon to coastal ecosystems, new research finds

A new study, led by ACRC research scientist John Harley, paints a clearer picture of how dissolved inorganic carbon (such as carbon dioxide) moves from land to sea in Southeast Alaska. By modeling carbon transport in rivers across more than 2,000 watersheds, the team estimated the amount of dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC) moving into coastal waters. They found that streamflow type (glacial-fed, snowmelt, or rainfall) and the presence of karst (landscape formations created by carbonate rocks such as limestone) were major factors influencing the type and amount of carbon transported.

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Jason Outflow

Salmon reared in National Forests are an important food source for Alaskans

Salmon is a staple on the table of many Alaskans, but what role do our national forests play in providing essential habitat for this valuable economic, cultural, and recreational resource?

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In coastal glacial watersheds, changes in hydrology and climate drive shifts in nutrient transport

In the Gulf of Alaska, glacierized watersheds flowing into nearshore ecosystems are thought to be a significant source of nutrients for primary production. Warming global temperatures are driving changes in glacial cover, precipitation patterns, and freshwater runoff, with complex implications for coastal environments.

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ACRC Postdoctoral Researcher Megan Behnke models the future of Alaska rivers

Through a new project with the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, the University of Alaska Southeast, and the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station, Megan Behnke is working to understand the impacts of changing river conditions on aquatic flows and freshwater habitat quality for fish across Alaska. Behnke rejoined ACRC last year as a postdoctoral researcher funded through the Coastal Rainforest Margins Research Network over five years after first engaging with ACRC as a research technician. In the fall of 2022, she began a new postdoctoral position with the Climate Adaptation Science Center Future of Aquatic Flows cohort, which is bringing early career researchers together to explore the effects of climate change on aquatic flows across the nation and how climate can be integrated into aquatic ecosystem management.

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Cowee Creek Sampling

‘Adaptive Leadership’ Led to Successful COVID-19 Response in Alaskan Capital

Early action, effective communication and collaboration between emergency response and healthcare providers enabled Juneau’s successful pandemic response, study finds

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Gillfoto, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Digging for the future of shellfish: UAS and Tribal researchers work together to understand changes to a valued subsistence resource

As the tide creeps up the shoreline at Juneau’s Amalga Harbor, ACRC researcher John Harley works shoulder to shoulder with collaborators from the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (CCTHITA), digging shallow holes in search of clams. By the end of the day, the group will have uncovered nearly 500 clams. Most of the bounty will be weighed and reburied for a large-scale survey of the abundance of clams in the region, but the remaining clams will travel to the Sitka Tribe of Alaska Environmental Research Lab to be tested for toxins that can accumulate in shellfish.

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In the Gulf of Alaska, snow and glacier loss could mean fewer food options for salmon

Cool, clear snowmelt, icy, turbulent glacial runoff, and dark wetland rainfall streams meet among Alaska’s coastal mountain watersheds, providing diverse food sources, plant and animal communities, and habitat types. But the mountain glaciers surrounding the Gulf of Alaska have some of the highest rates of mass loss on Earth, and as snowmelt and glacial influences fade, watersheds are losing the diversity of stream conditions brought about by cryospheric –or frozen water–contributions. The result is rivers that look more alike in their hydrology, temperature, and importantly, the structure of food webs that salmon rely on.

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Montana Confluence