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Weekly Highlights for 3-20-2008

Departmental/Bureau News

The U.S. Senate Learns How Volcano Science Helps Build Safer Communities - Alaska Volcano Observatory Turns 20
On April 2, 2008, members of the U.S. Senate, the public and the media will converge in the Russell Senate Office in Washington D.C. to learn how scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO), which turns 20 in April, help prevent volcanic hazards from becoming volcanic disasters. USGS Alaska Science Center scientist and AVO Scientist-in-Charge Tom Murray will be present at the event and has coordinated participation and input from the AVO Alaska-based offices. This event will demonstrate the potential threat to international aviation and local communities posed by active volcanoes in the North Pacific and how AVO works with interagency cooperators to help the public become prepared to handle the sometimes life-threatening and catastrophic impacts of volcano eruptions. Hands-on demonstrations, displays and opportunities to interview AVO and affiliated scientists will be available.
Contact: Thomas Murray Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7443

USGS Alaska Science Center Unveils New Facility
The USGS Alaska Science Center will officially obtain occupancy of its new facility in Anchorage, Alaska on April 7, 2008. The new center enables all the Center's Anchorage facilities and over 150 employees to be collocated in one area on the Alaska Pacific University Campus. The new building is 25,000 square feet and contains molecular ecology and common laboratories, The Map Store @ USGS, a scientific display area, conference room facility, and extensive office space.
Contact: Leslie Holland-Bartels Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7055

USGS Meets with NOAA to Discuss Strategic Planning
Leslie Holland-Bartels, Director of the USGS Alaska Science Center, will be meeting with Vickie Nadolski, Deputy Director of the National Weather Service and Deputy Assistant Administrator for Weather Services for NOAA, on Monday, April 7. The purpose of the meeting is to emphasize the partnerships between NOAA and USGS and to discuss the impacts of climate change on strategic planning, particular in the Arctic.
Contact: Leslie Holland-Bartels Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7055

Satellite-tagged Bar-tailed Godwits on the Move
USGS Alaska Science Center biologists traveled to New Zealand and Western Australia in February to implant satellite transmitters into Bar-tailed Godwits as part of an effort to better understand the potential transmission of Avian Influenza by migratory birds throughout the Australasian Flyway -- of which Alaska is a terminus. The work is part of two larger international projects (Pacific Shorebird Migration Project and the Global Flyway Network) that are assessing population declines and conservation issues among shorebirds. On 15 March the first of the 25 marked godwits, two females from New Zealand, departed on their northward migration. The birds marked in Western Australia, representing a different subspecies population, are expected to depart in late March. The flights of all marked godwits can be followed at:
Contact: Robert Gill Jr. Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7184

New release of the 2001 National Land Cover Database for the state of Alaska
The U.S. Geological Survey, on behalf of the interagency Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics (MRLC) Consortium, is pleased to announce the release of the 2001 National Land Cover Database (NLCD 2001) for Alaska. The NLCD 2001 Alaska mapping effort was led by the Alaska Science Center and the EROS Data Center and also involved cooperative efforts from mapping teams at three additional USGS centers. The completion of NLCD 2001 for Alaska represents the first time 30-meter cell land cover has been produced for the state and is part of MRLC’s effort to produce land cover products ( for all 50 U.S. States and Puerto Rico. NLCD 2001 contains 19 land cover classes in Alaska, including three (dwarf scrub, sedge/herbaceous, and moss) especially developed for the state. NLCD 2001 products include land cover identified for all 30-meter cells across the state, and percent urban imperviousness and tree canopy for select 30-meter cells across the state.
Contact: David Selkowitz Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7146

USGS Participates in IPY Circumpolar Geologic Map Project
Frederic (Ric) Wilson, Chad Hults and Bruce Gamble of the USGS Alaska Science Center are meeting with colleagues from Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and Sweden in St. Petersburg. Russia, the week of March 23. Participants have been compiling an Arctic circumpolar bedrock geologic map and database since 2006 as part of the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008. The first geologic map workshop was held in Calgary, Canada in February, 2006. The second was held in Anchorage, Alaska in March, 2007. The St. Petersburg workshop is the third and final workshop before release of the map at the 33rd International Geologic Conference (IGS) in Oslo, Norway in August 2008.
Contact: Bruce Gamble, (907) 786-7000

Press Inquiries/Media

USGS scientists Robert Gill, Lee Tibbitts, and Dan Mulcahy were interviewed by Television New Zealand and BBC Natural History Unit Radio ( for programs that will track the movements of the tagged godwits throughout their annual cycle.
Contact: Robert Gill Jr. Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7184

USGS geologist Peter Haeussler spoke with a producer of an upcoming Discovery Channel television show about the snowball earth hypothesis, active tectonics, and glaciers.
Contact: Peter Haeussler Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7447


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