The Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network (ALISON) project is one of the “Climate Steward” examples provided in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators. The project allows students and teachers to conduct research on snow and ice depth, density, cover, and thickness; this information is then incorporated into a larger data set to establish a baseline to measure the effects of climate change.


Alaska is expected to face sea level rise, erosion, increased temperatures, loss of snowpack, and melting ice. Ice thickness and duration are indicators of climate variability and change, but data is limited in Alaska. The ALISON project was designed to support observation and data collection on lake ice and snow in the state. This project is one of the case studies in the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators, developed to aid educators in communicating how climate change will affect the environment and how people can become “climate stewards.”


The ALISON project is made possible through the support of a National Science Foundation grant, the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and the University of Alaska Natural Resources Fund. ALISON leaders provide equipment to volunteer teams. Participants measure ice thickness, snow depth, snow density, and snow/ice surface temperature, and record observations on environmental conditions (e.g., wind, precipitation), typically once a week. The data collected is then sent to the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute; these data sets can be used to document ecosystem changes and may facilitate predictions of what could happen in the future.

Outcomes and Conclusions

Data sets from ALISON participant activities will be used to create a baseline from which to measure changes in ice and snow, especially in the face of climate change.

Information gathered from online resources. Last updated on 3/29/10.

Gregg, R. M. (2010). Monitoring Lake Ice and Snow in Alaska - The Alaska Lake Ice and Snow Observatory Network (ALISON) Project [Case study on a project of the University of Alaska - Fairbanks]. Product of EcoAdapt's State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE:–-alaska-lake-ice-and-snow-observatory-network (Last updated March 2010)

Project Contact(s)


Scale of Project
Community / Local
State / Provincial
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Climate Type
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Capacity Building
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Monitor climate change impacts and adaptation efficacy
Sociopolitical Setting
Effort Stage
In progress