A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Climate change is affecting Alaska in profound ways that require innovative approaches to research. Rising sea levels are rapidly eroding shorelines threatening coastal villages. Melting permafrost threatens infrastructure. Changes in temperature and rainfall impact vegetation and wildlife habitat. Melting glaciers, decreasing snow pack and freshwater runoff can affect fisheries, wildlife, tourism, and hydropower production. The Alaska Climate Science Center (AK CSC) aims to improve the understanding of how Alaska's ecosystems, natural resources, and cultural resources will respond to changing climate regimes, while supporting effective management, sustainable use, and sustainable communities.
The AK CSC has established a program of research, scientific cooperation and collaboration to discover how Alaska's ecosystems respond to climate change and how these responses will vary over time and space. Five basic research approaches are being applied:
1. Applied research into improving the capacity to downscale and apply GCMs, (global circulation models) including identification of factors affecting performance
2. Monitoring and development of indices to detect changes in ecosystem components and provide data for modeling and context for process studies
3. Integration of physical climate models with ecological, habitat, and population response models
4. Retrospective studies to maximize use of existing long-term observational records
5. Modeling to synthesize, extrapolate in time/space, test ideas, and produce future scenarios.
The research direction taken by the Alaska CSC is guided by the AK CSC Strategic Plan. This document describes the role and interactions of the AK CSC among its partners and stakeholders, clarifies the responsibilities of the Center to its partners, defines a context for climate impacts in the AK CSC region, and establishes the science priorities that the Center will address through research.
The development of this Strategic Plan was guided by the Alaska Climate Change Executive Roundtable (ACCER), a group comprised of senior-level executives from federal and non-federal agencies that addresses natural and cultural resource issues. With the help of its Climate Change Coordinating Committee (C4), ACCER also directs the annual implementation of this agenda.
Examples of research conducted at the AK CSC can be found here.