Skip to Main Content

Faculty Projects

Recently Funded Projects

Principal Investigator

Avalanches as Public Hazards and Agents of Landscape Change in Southeast Alaska

Principal Investigator: Eran Hood, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center: $150,000

It is critical to develop a better understanding of avalanches and the processes leading to avalanche formation in the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ). An important step in filling knowledge gaps related to avalanche processes in the CBJ is linking avalanche incidence and magnitude with synoptic-scale patterns, and evaluating their frequency in the climatological record. This information would greatly aid local and regional avalanche forecasting operations and facilitate updates to local avalanche hazard maps. Juneau provides an ideal laboratory for studying avalanches and associated climate and weather patterns given its unique urban avalanche threats and, in the context of Alaska, continuous, long-term (>70 yrs) datasets on climate, snowfall and winter precipitation. Understanding the spatiotemporal behavior of avalanches and the contributory climate and weather factors in Juneau will ultimately improve avalanche forecasting efforts, including operations involving avalanche terrain that impacts transportation, utility and mining corridors. This study aims to answer the following questions:

• What is the regional and path specific frequency of large magnitude avalanches in the City and Borough of Juneau?

• Are there specific synoptic weather patterns that are associated with broad-scale avalanche incidence clusters and large scale magnitude events identified in the historical record (derived from tree cores)?

• Are there identifiable relationships between avalanche incidence and specific teleconnections including: ENSO, AO, PDO?

View
Principal Investigator

Metabolic and growth physiology

Principal Investigator: Sherry Tamone, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: Alaska College Seagrant Program: $88,197

Northern spot shrimp Pandalus platyceros are commercially important shellfish harvested primarily off the coasts of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia and Alaska. This is a relatively deep-water crustacean species that has a protandric lifestyle; all juveniles become functional males and undergo a transitional stage before becoming a larger reproductive female. Prior studies have focused on stocks off the coasts of Washington and British Columbia and while the life history events are shared by Alaskan populations, the timing and duration of the specific events differ most likely because of temperature differences. For example, detailed studies exist on the protandric life history of P. platyceros that describe the differentiation of males to females over a 3 or 4 year period and that females reproduce each year for 2 or 3 years. (Hoffman 1972). We have determined that females reproduce every other year in Southeast Alaska most likely because of colder marine environment. Likewise, the duration of the planktonic zoeal stages is said to occur over one to three months in California and Washington populations and the larval duration of Alaskan populations remain unknown. While the fishery in regions of Southeast Alaska have experiences declining catches, Washington fisheries (both commercial and sport) remain variable but robust. It is extremely likely that the success of P. platyceros populations is dependent on a range of environmental and ecological factors; not the least of which is a stable ambient environment. The objectives of this project are to investigate early life history traits (growth and energetics) of a data poor and commercially important Alaskan shellfish species; Northern spot shrimp Pandalus platyceros. Additionally we will investigate energetic costs of this species living in a changing environment.

View
Principal Investigator

Outburst flood monitoring at Mendenhall Glacier’s Suicide Basin, Juneau, Alaska

Principal Investigator: Christian Kienholz, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center: $155,000

Since 2011, Mendenhall River has experienced several large outburst floods that originate at Mendenhall Glacier’s Suicide Basin. The floods have resulted in inundated homes along the river, flooded and evacuated campsites, and closure of several residential roads. In this project we observe the evolution of lake level, ice dynamics, and ice surface mass balance in Suicide Basin, using in-situ and remote sensing instruments such as water level gauges, time-lapse cameras, and drones. These measurements support longer-term flood risk assessments and constrain real-time flood modeling efforts. The project is in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, the NOAA Weather Service office, and the City and Borough of Juneau, and involves graduate and undergraduate students from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Southeast.

 
View
Principal Investigator

Analysis of long-term census data to identify factors affecting survival and life history strategies of coho salmon

Principal Investigator: David Tallmon, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: North Pacific Research Board: $82,195

A major unknown facing salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) fisheries biologists and managers is how climate change and other factors will affect abundance. This proposed research makes use of >35 years of census data to investigate the factors that influence marine survival and life history strategies of coho (O. kisutch) salmon from Auke Creek, AK. It builds upon findings from our previously funded NPRB project which has revealed dramatic shifts in Auke Creek juvenile and adult salmon run timing over the previous three decades. Because early marine survival is such an important life history stage, an outstanding question is whether shifts in run timing of Auke Creek salmon will lead to mismatches between their migrations and optimal environmental conditions (the “mismatch hypothesis”). In 2016, we recorded the earliest (tied) and lowest run ever of Auke Creek adult coho spawners following a few years of warm temperatures. The primary goal of this project is to quantify the effects of key environmental and biological covariates on coho marine survival and life history strategies. We will take advantage our unique, long-term dataset in a Bayesian framework to examine factors affecting coho survival and abundance. Ultimately, understanding the impacts of climate change on salmon populations and accurately predicting response of these populations to climate change is necessary for successful management, harvest, and conservation of these economically and ecologically important fishes. Because the Auke Creek provides censuses of migrating smolt and spawning coho, our dataset provides an unequalled resource to investigate factors affecting salmon survival.

View
Principal Investigator

Salmon Adaptation Genomics

Principal Investigator: David Tallmon, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: Build-BLaST: $42,006

The timing and duration of Pacific salmon spawning in Alaska is critically important for subsistence and commercial users of this food resource. The timing and duration of salmon spawning is shifting to earlier dates and compressing in response to climate warming. Increasingly warmer temperatures and lower stream flows have contributed to earlier and shorter duration runs of spawning salmon and to increasingly hypoxic (low oxygen) conditions. This project tests for phenotypic and genetic differences between female pink salmon that survive to reproduce versus those that do not under the crowded and warm conditions present during salmon spawning.

View

Previously Funded Projects

Principal Investigator

Stream temperature as vital indicator

Principal Investigator: Eran Hood, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: U.S. Forest Service: $22,600

The University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has partnered with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Council (SAWC) to monitor stream temperature across southeast Alaska. The Southeast Alaska Freshwater Temperature Monitoring Network currently contains around 60 active stream temperature sites managed by UAS, USFS, SAWC, and other partner agencies and tribes. Stream temperature is a vital indicator variable for stream health and morphology, particularly in the context of predicted climate warming in the region. UAS researchers provide oversight of all aspects of data collection and archiving for the network. A UAS research technician coordinates directly with USFS and external collaborators to maintain and download data from existing stream temperature network sites. The goal of the network is to collect stream temperature data that meet the information needs of individual cooperators while simultaneously generating data that contributes to an understanding of regional stream temperature patterns and trends.

View
Principal Investigator

Controlling Sexual Differentiation in a Crustacean

Principal Investigator: Sherry Tamone, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: Binational Science Foundation: $92,000

Sexual differentiation and reproduction in the animal kingdom is highly diverse. Crustaceans exhibit several sexual differentiation strategies all of which are thought to involve the control of an endocrine gland named the androgenic gland which secretes an insulin-like androgenic gland hormone (IAG) responsible for maleness as opposed to femaleness. Thus, we could refer to this system as the “switch” between femaleness and maleness, termed the IAG-switch. To study this IAG-switch we intend to apply novel approaches to find genes related to sexual determination in a shrimp species that as an adult is initially a reproductive male prior to becoming a reproductive female. The Northern spot shrimp Pandalus platyceros found in Alaska is such a species in which every individual changes sex from male to female during its lifetime. It presents an ideal model for such a study since each individual exhibits distinct male, female and transient intersexual stages during adulthood. All reproductive stages of P. platyceros, are available at the Alaskan partner laboratory so this study provides a unique opportunity to understand the basic molecular mechanisms that result in sexual differentiation. These collaborative studies will broaden our understanding of such endocrine pathways, their evolutionary significance and further our knowledge of a species with great ecological and commercial importance.

View
Principal Investigator

Impact of Subglacial Discharge on Turbulent Plume Dynamics and Ocean-Glacier Heat and Mass transfer

Principal Investigator: Jason M. Amundson, Ph.D.

  • Funding Source: National Science Foundation - Arctic Natural Sciences: $501,803

Recent and on-going retreat of many Northern hemisphere marine-terminating glaciers is contributing significantly to sea level rise. It is driven by poorly understood processes occurring at the ice-ocean interface, such as subglacial discharge into the ocean, turbulent plume dynamics, submarine melting, and iceberg calving. These processes are (1) inherently interdisciplinary, requiring expertise in both glaciology and oceanography and (2) difficult to observe, requiring innovative field techniques and careful site selection. This project will address the relationship between subglacial discharge, turbulent plume dynamics, and submarine melting through a comprehensive field campaign at LeConte Glacier, Alaska, supplemented by a state-of-the-art modeling effort. The field site is ideal because it spans a wide range of forcings on daily to seasonal time scales and because the near-terminus fjord environment is accessible year round. A successful project will provide a unique data set and improved models for projecting contributions to future sea level rise.

View