Assessing the Sensitivity of Alaska's Coastal Rainforest Ecosystem to Changes in Glacier Runoff

Shad O'Neel
Posted on: 7/18/2022 -

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Coastal temperate rainforests along the Gulf of Alaska are experiencing high rates of glacier loss. Understanding the climate-induced vulnerability of land-to-ocean movement of freshwater due to glacier melting is critical since the variability in glacier runoff is much larger than that for other components of the water cycle. This project will develop methods to quantify runoff from watersheds along the Gulf of Alaska, allowing an assessment of impacts on coastal ecosystems. This study will also assess available data, develop an interdisciplinary conceptual model, and disseminate findings to both scientific peers and the public, paving the way forward to a better understanding of one of the least understood regional water cycles on Earth. New information from this study will provide a framework for assessing the future evolution of glacier discharge into the Gulf of Alaska, reducing uncertainty in determining the response of coastal ecosystems to a changing climate.


The USGS is a science organization that provides impartial information on the health of our ecosystems and environment, the natural hazards that threaten us, the natural resources we rely on, the impacts of climate and land-use change, and the core science systems that help us provide timely, relevant, and useable information.


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