Welcome to Alaska NSF EPSCoR
Alaska NSF EPSCoR improves Alaska's scientific capacity by engaging in research projects supported through National Science Foundation and state funds. EPSCoR recently commenced "Fire and Ice," a five-year project to study climate-driven changes to Alaskan wildfire regimes and coastal ecosystems. Alaska NSF EPSCoR also helps to administer "Teaching Through Technologies," a three-year educational project to excite high school students about science through experiments with unmanned aerial vehicles, 3-D printers and codeable digital devices. The organization just concluded a six-year project entitled "Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments (ACE)," which examined the mechanisms by which communities adapt to environmental and social change. For more information about our history, take a look at this small poster that tracks the timeline and structure of NSF EPSCoR in Alaska.
Letter from the PI
Alaska NSF EPSCoR Principal Investigator Anupma Prakash recently recently shared her latest open letter with updates about Alaska NSF EPSCoR progress and activities.
New EPSCoR staff
The central EPSCoR office recently welcomed some new staff members. First, we have a new Project Administrator, Faye Gallant. Faye comes to EPSCoR from the UAF Office of Information Technology; she has degrees from UAF and UAS and nearly a decade of experience as a coordinator, administrator and analyst at various UAF offices. Former Project Administrator Pips Veazey is continuing on in her role as Associate Project Director. In addition, EPSCoR also has a new Fiscal Manager: Shannon Watson, a UAF grad with 17 years under her belt as a fiscal professional at the university. Shannon replaces Susan Frei, who left to take a new job in the Lower 48. Also departing is Education, Outreach and Diversity Director Tania Clucas, who took a position in the office of state representative Grier Hopkins.
Three UAF researchers receive EPSCoR awards
Three UAF researchers have received individual NSF EPSCoR "Track-4" awards, which enable scientists to collaborate with major research centers to continue their work.
Jeff Benowitz, a Research Assistant Professor with the Geophysical Institute, received $220,043 for his proposal “Why are Young Volcanic Rocks Undateable: Chemistry, Environment, or Instrumentation?” The funding will enable Benowitz and a graduate student to work with researchers at Oregon State University to determine the age of young volcanic rocks from Alaska’s Aleutian and Wrangell arcs. The project will investigate how the chemistry and environments of samples and the sensitivity and precision of instruments contribute to uncertainties in determining the age of young volcanic rocks, and enable the development of new methods to more accurately date the rocks.
Eric Collins, an Assistant Professor with the College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, received $187,301 for his proposal “Advancing Machine Learning in Biological Oceanography through Interdisciplinary Collaborations.” Collins and a graduate student will travel to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts to use machine learning to predict distributions of Arctic marine microbes and their use and transformations of metals. They’ll then use this knowledge to design methods for adaptive biological sampling using flow-through systems and ocean profilers.
Ken Tape, an Associate Professor with the Geophysical Institute, received $200,382 for his proposal, “Predicting Beaver Colonization of the Arctic and Creation of Tundra Stream Oases.” Tape and a postdoctoral researcher will spend six months at Northern Arizona University working with experts in satellite image analysis to further his research into the expansion of beaver habitat into arctic tundra.
Research posters and presentations
Whenever possible, we will make research posters and presentations by our Fire and Ice researchers available on this site, in addition to lists of publications. Here are our first offerings:
- Bhatt, Uma. Towards Developing Useful Seasonal Forecast Products for Alaska Wildland Fire. Powerpoint presentation, Alaska Interagency Fall Fire Review, Fairbanks, Alaska, October 9, 2018.
- Bhatt, Uma. Improving Seasonal Forecasting of Alaska Wildfires. Poster, NOAA General Modeling Meeting and Fair, College Park, Maryland, September 10, 2018.
- Bhatt, Uma. Employing Seasonal Climate Forecasts to Develop Useful Products for Fire Managers in Alaska. Poster, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Washington, D.C., December 11, 2018.
- Bieniek, Peter. Seasonal Climate Forecasts Applied to Products for Fire Managers in Alaska. Poster, NOAA Climate Diagnostics and Prediction Workshop, Santa Barbara, Calif., October 23-25, 2018.
- Sampath, Akila. Application of CFSv2 Hindcasts of Canadian Fire Weather Indices to Develop Outlooks for Fire Managers in Alaska. Poster, American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, January 9, 2019.
- Veazey, Pips. Team Science in High Latitudes: Managing Complex Programs. Poster, American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, Washington, D.C., December 11, 2018.
ACE Northern Test Case releases Community Report
Researchers with the Alaska ACE's Northern Test Case studying perceptions of climate change in Nuiqsut have released a report detailing their findings.
Researchers led by Jen Schmidt, a Term Assistant Professor of Natural Resource Management at UAA, compiled scientific data on North Slope climate change, asked residents of Nuiqsut to describe their own perceptions of change, and compared the two. The results are summarized in the 28-page report, “Local Knowledge and Science: Observation of Climate Change in the Nuiqsut Homelands." If you would like a hard copy, they're available at 202 West Ridge Research Building on the UAF campus.
Scientific findings in the document indicate numerous changes over recent decades, including warmer winters, earlier spring snowmelt, earlier springs and later falls, thawing permafrost, shrinking lakes, increased river erosion, and decreasing moose and caribou populations. Researchers interviewed 28 Nuiqsut residents, most of them active subsistence harvesters, about their perceptions of environmental change in order to see the level of agreement among local residents and how local knowledge compared to scientific data.
Interviewees agreed about many areas of change but were split in others. For example, 60% agreed that winters are warming and 65% agreed there are fewer moose around Nuiqsut. But 25% reported that fall snow is coming later versus 33% who said earlier, and 46% said snowfall has decreased versus 27% who say it is unchanged. In every category, roughly 10% to 30% of interviewees reported no change.
“It’s impressive to see the vast amount of knowledge that local residents and scientists have procured and the amount of agreement,” noted Schmidt. “That being said, there are still uncertainties and knowledge gaps about how and why the environment is changing.”
Schmidt noted that discrepancies in knowledge tended to occur when different scales of observation were used or when terminology differed between instrumented and observed data. The report suggests numerous other possible reasons for discrepancies, such as people making observations in different places, having access to information sources beyond their observations, or holding different perspectives on what constitutes change. Schmidt said the findings present many possibilities for further study and collaboration. “High variability in knowledge provides an opportunity for local knowledge holders and scientists to work together, learn from each other, and increase our understanding of the environment, especially in a rapidly changing world.”
Looking for ACE?
The Alaska Adapting to Changing Environments project concluded on December 31, 2018. That being the case, information about the project has been moved to the EPSCoR archive. At present, the archive contains all pages that were originally hosted here on the main site, as well as a new page containing all information and links from the Southcentral Test Case's Salmon 2050 project.
F&I faculty LeeAnn Munk, Jason Fellman and Eric Klein
We've produced our first PDF highlight from the Fire and ice project, about some first collaborative steps toward stream monitoring. Many thanks to Molly Tankersley of the Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center for the text and photos.
We also have available a number of PDF highlights about research and outreach from the recently concluded Alaska ACE project. Alaska EPSCoR's YouTube site also includes links to multiple recent videos from the ACE project. We also now host sound signatures of planes flying over the North Slope, courtesy of an ACE Northern Test Case research project by UAF MS student Taylor Stinchcomb.
For more information
For more information on Alaska NSF EPSCoR in general, this poster gives an overview of the history of the organization in Alaska.
The Alaska EPSCoR data portal gives access to datasets generated by or related to NSF EPSCoR research.
The Alaska Science and Technology Plan, which prioritizes the state's S&T activities, was crafted with extensive EPSCoR input. The plan was written by the Alaska State Committee for Research, a panel of academic, political and business leaders charged with overseeing Alaska EPSCoR and advising on the state's research enterprise.
EPSCoR acknowledgment and logos
By our grant terms, any person receiving benefit from Alaska NSF EPSCoR must acknowledge it in any publications, presentations, websites, newsletters, dissertations, theses, etc. that result from Alaska NSF EPSCoR support.
Please use the following language: "Acknowledgment to (or "Support from") Alaska EPSCoR NSF award #OIA-1757348 and the state of Alaska."