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Weekly Highlights for 2-23-2012
A. Upcoming Events
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The purpose of Synthesis of Arctic Research (SOAR) is to bring together a multidisciplinary group of Arctic scientists to explore and integrate information from completed and ongoing marine research in the Pacific Arctic (www.arctic.noaa.gov/soar). SOAR is supported by an MOU between BOEM-Alaska Region and NOAA-PMEL. The workshop includes invited contributors and will be held in Anchorage starting March 14, 2012. Workshop participants will inventory available data and evaluate its sufficiency to address specific cross-disciplinary hypotheses. Teams will be formed to target each science theme and will meet both independently and as a group to achieve SOAR goals. The synthesis will be completed in 2016, providing important information to management decision-makers and guiding future research activities.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7414
In four of the last five summers, thousands of Pacific walruses hauled out onto the northwest shores of Alaska and Chukotka Peninsula to rest during the absence of sea ice over the continental shelf of the Chukchi Sea. This new behavior has been associated with walrus mortalities, but additional consequences of the behavior are unclear. The workshop will be held in Anchorage, AK, March 19-22, 2012. The goal of the workshop is to facilitate the exchange of information concerning ongoing walrus haul-out monitoring efforts in Alaska and Chukotka; identify existing information gaps and priorities; discuss ways to improve, standardize, and coordinate data collection efforts in the US and Russia; formulate recommendations for additional monitoring efforts; and establish where there are opportunities for continuing and new funding. Participants will include 4 USGS biologists, 7 Russian biologists, and 11 biologists from other US agencies and organizations.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7414
As part of a week-long celebration in the State Capitol of Alaska's waters resources the 2012 annual meeting of the Alaska section of AWRA will be held in Juneau, Alaska on March 4-7. USGS Alaska Science Center researchers will present study results on water and nutrient budgets of Arctic Coastal Plain Lakes and wetlands, Hydrology and hydraulics of the Copper River highway closure, streamflow records in the Susitna River Basin, and the assessment of the braided planform stability of the Toklak River. A groundwater and surface-water (GW-SW) interactions workshop will be conducted by Colin Kikuchi to train environmental scientists and managers in fundamentals of GW-SW interaction, including legal aspects, field methods, and the use of groundwater modeling tools. Participants will leave this workshop with an understanding of the physical principles underlying groundwater models, and the limitations and assumptions of groundwater models. The workshop will help participants to better understand modeling-based studies, and incorporate groundwater models into environmental research and water resource management. In addition, David Meyer will participate in a panel discussion entitled "How do we effectively manage water resources in a data sparse state?" Further information may be found at http://state.awra.org/alaska/ameetings/2012am/program.shtml.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7107
USGS Alaska Science Center scientist James Bodkin is the lead author of a paper recently published in Marine Ecology Progress Series entitled "Long-term effects of the 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill: sea otter foraging in the intertidal as a pathway of exposure to lingering oil." This research was conducted in Prince William Sound, Alaska, an area heavily impacted by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, where lingering oil persists in intertidal sediments and sea otter numbers remain depressed. The primary objectives were to use time-depth recorders in sea otters to estimate extent of intertidal foraging and the probability that an otter will encounter oil, and determine if otters avoid shorelines known to retain oil. Results showed rates of intertidal foraging, and thus potential exposure to oil, varied widely among individuals, and by season and sex. Females encountered oil about 2-24 times/yr, and males 2-4 times/yr, in 2003-05. Encounter rates likely are declining over time as lingering oil is mobilized through disturbance of sediments. Foraging pit locations indicated that otters do not necessarily avoid oiled shorelines. This study demonstrates the potential for injury to sea otters and other nearshore residents through long-term exposure to lingering oil. The paper can be found at http://www.int-res.com/abstracts/meps/v447/p273-287/.
James L. Bodkin, Ballachey, B.E., Coletti, H.A., Esslinger, G.G., Kloecker, K.A., Rice, S.D., Reed, J.A., and Monson, D.H. (2012) Long-term effects of the 'Exxon Valdez' oil spill: sea otter foraging in the intertidal as a pathway of exposure to lingering oil. Marine Ecology Progress Series 447:273-287. doi:10.3354/meps09523
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7164
USGS Alaska Science Center glaciologist Shad O'Neel is co-author of a paper to be published in the upcoming issue of Annals of Glaciology. Iceberg calving is an important mass loss process, not only for the ice sheets, but at the many smaller tidewater glaciers around the world as well. This study investigated the sensitivity of iceberg production to a key controlling parameter, the depth of water in crevasses using a finite element model. In order to apply the crevasse-depth criterion with a realistic stress distribution, researchers implemented a full-stokes model along the data-constrained central flowline of Columbia Glacier, Alaska. The results highlight the potential for atmospheric warming and surface meltwater to trigger glacier retreat, but also the difficulty of modeling calving rates, as crevasse water depth is difficult to determine either by measurement in situ or surface mass balance modeling.
Cook, S. T. Zwinger., I. C. Rutt, S. O'Neel and T. Murray. 2012. Testing the effect of water in crevasses on a physically-based calving model, Annals of Glaciology 53(60). In Press.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7088
Birds of marine environments use saltglands to excrete excess sodium chloride ingested with food and water. This study examines how weather conditions, prey type and energy requirements affect saltgland mass (msg) of nonbreeding shorebirds, by making comparisons across and within a range of shorebird species that use different habitats, reside in environments with different ambient temperatures, and have different diets. Study results support the notion that saltgland mass is not only phenotypically determined by the salinity of the habitat, but also by factors that are set by organismal performance levels. Working with researchers from Spain, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, USGS Alaska Science Center scientist Robert Gill is co-author of a new study recently published in Functional Ecology entitled "Functional ecology of saltglands in shorebirds: Flexible responses to variable environmental conditions." The paper can be found at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01929.x/pdf.
Gutiérrez, J. S., M. W. Dietz, J. A. Masero, R. E. Gill, Jr. A. Dekinga, P. F. Battley, J. M. Sánchez-Guzmán and T. Piersma. 2012. Functional ecology of saltglands in shorebirds: Flexible responses to variable environmental conditions. Functional Ecology. 26(1):236-244. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2435.2011.01929.x.
Robert Gill Jr.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7184
A new USGS map "Surficial geologic map of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3125" is now available. The map covers most of the central Brooks Range, extending westward from the Dalton Highway into the headwaters of the Noatak River. It highlights the complex glacial record of this region and its abundant scenic alpine features. The accompanying pamphlet explains the region's glacial history, describes each of its map units, and includes an extensive bibliography of prior studies.
Hamilton, T.D., and Labay, K.A., 2011, Surficial geologic map of the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Map 3125, 1:300,000, 19 p.
Tom Hamilton, (907) 786-7000
On February 14, USGS Alaska Science Center geneticist Andrew Hope was invited to speak at the Oregon State University Ecology and Evolution Seminar Series. The seminar series provides an interdepartmental and multi-institutional venue for presenting advances in ecology and evolution. The talk entitled "Mammalian diversification across the Holarctic: spatiotemporal evolution in response to environmental change" focused on the processes driving diversification within the northern high-latitudes and the variable responses of species to environmental change through time. The research has important application to future Arctic climate and biodiversity scenarios.
Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7193
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