2014 RID Awards

PROJECT: Development of a Tagging Method for Dusky Dolphins to Understand the Effects of Climate, Ecosystem, and Anthropogenic Changes

PI: Heidi Pearson, Assistant Professor, UAS

Top marine predators are early indicators and sentinels of ecosystem and climate change, as changes in their abundance, distribution, and behavior may reflect broader earth system processes. The goal of this study is to develop a short-term, non-invasive suction-cup tagging method for collecting high resolution data on dusky dolphins foraging and ranging behavior that can be integrated with climate and oceanographic data derived from NASA satellite sensors.

PROJECT: Estimating year-round surface energy fluxes in Alaska Arctic and sub-Arctic watersheds through remote sensing and field measurements

PI: Jordi Cristobal, Assistant Professor, UAF

With a student we will acquire, integrate existing hydrometeorological, GIS and remote sensing data to assess year-round spatio-temporal dynamics of energy fluxes in three Arctic and sub-Arctic watersheds by calibrating and validating an energy balance model.

PROJECT: Detecting sparse sea ice using SAR in the Chukchi Sea and evaluating its impact on walrus distributions

PI: Olivia Lee, Research Associate, UAF

Sea ice is an important component of Arctic ecosystems and a major consideration for human marine-related activities in the Arctic. Remote sensing products allow us to monitor seaice conditions on broad scales, which in turn help us understand the implications of changing sea ice conditions on species distributions and vessel safety. As sea ice continues its declining trend, the persistence of low-concentration sea ice (increasingly important for ice-dependent species such as Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosmarus divergens). Thus, it is important to develop tools for detection of sparse sea ice over large areas to help us understand and predict how ecosystems respond to lower sea ice concentrations. We will use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and NASA Terra and Aqua images to detect and trace the persistence of sparse sea ice in the Chukchi and western Beaufort Seas. Collaborative work
with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory researchers will allow us to investigate floe size distributions and other characteristics of sparse sea ice that walrus can use as habitat, especially later in the summer. The results from this study can then be used to inform future applications of an automated sparse sea ice detection process.

PROJECT: Linking lidar and stream organic carbon export: Can above ground biomass and landscape composition be used to predict the export and biogeochemistry of stream organic carbon?

PI: Brian Buma, Assistant Professor, UAS

Organic carbon (OC) export from terrestrial ecosystems is critical to the metabolic stability of freshwater and coastal marine ecosystems, as well as sustaining extremely important cultural and economic species including Pacific salmon. Linking stream OC concentration to watershed vegetation structure and composition would represent an important step forward in our efforts to understand the total magnitude, variability, and vulnerability of terrestrial to aquatic C fluxes to changes in vegetation as a result of climate change.

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