Located 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii, the National Park of American Samoa is the most remote unit of the National Park System and the U.S. National Park south of the Equator. The Park spreads across three islands, 9,500 acres of tropical rainforest, and 4,000 acres of ocean, including coral reefs. While remote, the islands of American Samoa, true to the meaning of the word Samoa (Islands of Sacred Earth), are welcoming and offer beautiful landscapes and centuries of culture and history.
Seasoned backpacker and adventurer Yang Lu earned the grand prize in the 2015 Share the Experience photo contest with this image of a sunburst captured at sunrise in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah. Yang has made the outdoors part of his daily life and finds deep connection to the land through his lens.
“My photography is not just for recreation, it is to inspire people to explore these areas." -- Yang Lu
Photo by Yang Lu (www.sharetheexperience.org).
The plantings of cherry trees originated in 1912 as a gift of friendship to the People of the United States from the People of Japan. In Japan, the flowering cherry tree, or "Sakura," is an exalted flowering plant. The beauty of the cherry blossom is a potent symbol equated with the evanescence of human life and epitomizes the transformation of Japanese culture throughout the ages.
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.