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Weekly Highlights for 4-9-2009

Departmental/Bureau News

USGS Hosts Forum on Ecoregional Monitoring
The USGS Alaska Science Center, with the Alaska Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), is hosting a Forum on Ecoregional Monitoring, April 14-16, 2009, in Anchorage and Girdwood, Alaska. The Forum is focused on the USFWS’ development of an ecoregionally cohesive and/or statewide monitoring program. The Forum is also an opportunity to improve coordination and compatibility across monitoring programs carried out by all agencies in Alaska. On Day 1, invited speakers representing a suite of major broad-scale monitoring programs will address hypotheses about landscape status and trend. On Days 2-3, FWS and neighbors will gather in a workshop setting to discuss implementation of broad-scale monitoring across jurisdictions. For more information, go to
Contact: Erik Beever, (907) 786-7000

Ongoing Eruption of Redoubt Volcano
USGS Alaska Science Center staff at the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) continue to respond to the ongoing eruption of Redoubt Volcano. On April 4 the nineteenth explosive event of the current eruption occurred sending ash to 50,000 feet and blanketing the southern Kenai Peninsula with ash. Fieldwork this week included a gas measurement and observation flight, ash collection and sampling and observations of eruptive deposits near the volcano. On April 6 the Aviation Color Code was lowered to ORANGE with the Alert Level to Watch. A lava dome is actively growing in the summit crater and renewed explosive activity is likely. Data from real-time seismic networks, web cameras, ground-based radar, GPS stations, an infrasound instrument, and near-real imagery from satellites are monitored by AVO staff 24/7. AVO continues to post daily updates of Redoubts condition on the AVO website ( ). AVO is a partnership among the USGS, the State of Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, and The University of Alaska Geophysical Institute.
Contact: Thomas Murray Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7443

USGS Radio-tags Walruses, Satellite Tracking Available Online
USGS Alaska Science Center scientists, in collaboration with the North Pacific Research Board and the National Science Foundation, attached satellite radio-tags to 17 walruses (9 males, 8 females) in the region of the St. Lawrence Island polynya during March 2009. The purpose of the tagging is to determine where walruses forage relative to the distribution of their benthic prey and conditions of sea ice. The radio-tags will provide estimates of walrus locations and hourly walrus foraging and haulout status information for 6 to 8 weeks. Updated tracking data from this expedition may be viewed on the USGS Alaska Science Center web page (
Contact: Chadwick Jay Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7414

Food Quality Required to Raise Healthy Seabird Chicks
USGS Alaska Science Center scientist John Piatt and colleagues in USGS Cooperative Units and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have collaborated in a recent publication that appeared in Marine Ornithology entitled: “Growth rates of Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla chicks in relation to delivery rate, size, and energy density of meals”. This study provides unique details on how food quality— in terms of prey types, prey energy content, meal size and meal delivery rate— can all be modified by adult seabirds to achieve the ultimate goal: a fat, happy fledgling. The study also documents what happens when one or more of these key diet requirements is not achieved in the wild, and cannot be compensated for by adults. These findings further our understanding of how regime shifts and other changes in marine food webs translate into reproductive failure for higher vertebrates in the ecosystem. The article is available at:
Contact: John Piatt Anchorage, AK, (360) 774-0516 x224

Outreach at Alaska Sportsman Show
The USGS Alaska Science Center staffed a booth at the Great Alaska Sportsman Show, April 2 - 5, an event in Anchorage that draws over 20,000 visitors annually. A variety of informational materials about USGS science in Alaska and the various products that are available at the Map Store @ USGS were highlighted.
Contact: Gregory Durocher Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7009

Press Inquiries/Media

USGS scientists at the Alaska Volcano Observatory continued answering media inquiries, April 2 - 8, about the current period of unrest at Redoubt Volcano. Media outlets include the Homer Tribune, Bloomberg News and KSRM Radio (AM 920, Kenai, AK).
Contact: Thomas Murray Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7443

USGS Alaska Science Center biologist Steve Amstrup was contacted April 9 by Seed Magazine concerning facts about polar bears.
Contact: Steven Amstrup, (907) 786-7000

USGS Alaska Science Center geologist Peter Haeussler provided material for a slideshow of the 1964 earthquake that appears on the Discovery Channel's earth science website titled "America's Greatest Quake on Earth." The slideshow can be found at:
Contact: Peter Haeussler Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7447

The USGS Alaska Science Center hosted press conferences on April 4 and 6 about the current seismic activity at Redoubt Volcano. Attendees included CBS News LA, CBS affiliate KTVA-TV (Ch 11, Anchorage), NBC affiliate KTUU-TV (Ch 2, Anchorage), ABC affiliate Alaska Superstation (Ch13, Anchorage), CNN, Alaska Public Radio, Anchorage Daily News, Homer Daily News, Homer Tribune, Associated Press, Alaska Journal of Commerce, Bloomberg News, and Argus Media.
Contact: Thomas Murray Anchorage, AK, (907) 786-7443


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