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Low-altitude photographic transects of the Arctic Network of National Park Units and Selawik National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, July 2013 (Sep 18, 2014)

During July 16–18, 2013, low-level photography flights were conducted (with a Cessna 185 with floats and a Cessna 206 with tundra tires) over the five administrative units of the National Park Service Arctic Network (Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Kobuk Valley National Park, and Noatak National Preserve) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Selawik National Wildlife Refuge in northwest Alaska, to provide images of current conditions and prevalence of land-cover types as a baseline for measuring future change, and to complement the existing grid-based sample photography of the region. Total flight time was 17 hours, 46 minutes, and total flight distance was 2,590 kilometers, at a mean altitude of about 300 meters above ground level.

A Collaborative Approach to Yellow-billed Loon Monitoring (Aug 5, 2014)

Last year, two Alaska teenagers interviewed Dr. Angela Matz from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) about Yellow-billed Loons monitoring in Alaska’s northern parks. Youth videographers, Sam Tocktoo of Shishmaref and Sam Bernitz of Anchorage traveled in a float plane to Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and filmed the loons and the story of the science behind long-term monitoring of the species in Alaska. Their videos will help the NPS, USFWS, Bureau of Land Management, and Wildlife Conservation Society bring awareness to the conservation challenges facing Yellowbilled Loons in Alaska. Watch the video Tocktoo helped produce at http://youtube/EbRmNLWNvAc. For more information about NPS monitoring of this species visit http://science.nature.nps.gov/im/units/arcn/vitalsign.cfm?vsid=81.
To learn more about the species visit http://www.fws.gov/alaska/fisheries/endangered/pdf/ybl_factsheet.pdf

Looking Closer at Lichens: New insights into an Alaskan lichen (Jul 17, 2014)

Peter Nelson (Oregon State University/University of Maine-Fort Kent) noticed an unfamiliar lichen species collected in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve last year. Although the species had already been described, a key characteristic was overlooked by the authors who described it—namely, that it hosts both green algae and colonies of cyanobacteria. While this may not seem like much to a non-lichenologist, it would be analogous to describing an animal and not noticing some key appendage, such a tail. It turned out that this species, Fuscopannaria viridescens, is the only member of its speciose genus (>40 spp. in North America) with both green algae and cyanobacteria. You can learn more about this lichen by referring to: Nelson, P. R. and T. Wheeler. 2013. Cephalodia found of Fuscopannaria viridescens. The Lichenologist45(5):694-696.

Using IRMA’s Data Store to Preserve Institutional Knowledge (Jul 1, 2014)

What happens to the institutional knowledge of employees who transfer or retire? When an employee moves on, that person’s body of work, including research and collected data, could be lost if not safely stored for future access. Data Store (https://irma.nps.gov/App/Portal/Home) is the perfect solution, and our sister agency, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has put that idea to work. Data Store is the NPS-wide centralized repository for documents, publications, and data sets that are related to NPS natural and cultural resources. In 2010, the co-located USFWS staff requested that the IRMA development team in Ft. Collins modify Data Store so that it could become the central repository for the USFWS Inventory & Monitoring Program. Service Catalog (ServCat), the USFWS version of Data Store, was launched in 2011 and has many enthusiastic users. An article appeared in the current issue of USFWS’ Refuge Update that told the story of using ServCat to preserve legacy data of employees who transfer or retire (http://www.fws.gov/refuges/RefugeUpdate/JulyAug_2014/servcat.html). The ServCat article describes how the research conducted by James Maragos, an expert in coral reef ecosystems, was preserved. His research represents baseline data of the conditions of coral reef ecosystems the first time they were seen by human eyes. By entering his information into ServCat, biologists will be able to compare the reef conditions they observe to the baseline data today or 20 years from now. That type of baseline information is vital to the study of reefs in relation to human impact, coral bleaching, and climate change.Many IRMA users are focused on getting their legacy data into IRMA and may not have considered using it to prevent loss of data as employees move. With the surge of baby boomers retiring, IRMA is a great tool to preserve valuable information about a specific park, region, or natural/cultural resource issue to preserve research findings for use in the ... [Read full article]

Snow Cover Monitoring with MODIS Satellite Data in the Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Network, Alaska, 2000-2013 (Jun 30, 2014)

Snow cover was monitored in the five National Park Service (NPS) units of the Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Network (ARCN) from the fall of 2000 through the spring of 2013, using 500 m resolution daily data from the MODIS Terra satellite. The MODIS data were processed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and the Geographic Information Network for Alaska (GINA) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks to detect the first and last snow days of each season, and the start and end of the continuous snow season (CSS).

The median first snow day was in October over most of the low-elevation areas (<2000 feet, 620 m) of ARCN and mainly in September at higher elevations, except at elevations above 3000 feet (914 m) along the north side of the Brooks Range, where the first snow came in August. The start of the CSS was within 2 weeks of the first snow day over most of ARCN: late October in the lowlands (<1000 feet, 305 m) of western ARCN and early October elsewhere, except at elevations above 3000 feet (914 m), where the CSS began in September. In years with late snow cover establishment and cloudy fall weather, the date of first snow and the start of the CSS were not detected in some parts of ARCN before winter darkness and long terrain shadows obscured the ground. While this problem appears to not have substantially affected the long-term median values for first snow day and start of CSS, it prevented analysis of year-to-year variability in these two metrics.

The median length of the continuous snow season was 6 to 7 months in most lowland areas (below 1000 feet, 305 m), 7 to 8 months at most mid-elevations, and 8 to 9 months at most high elevations (above 4000 feet, 1219 m). The median last snow day and median last day of the CSS were less than a week apart in May over most of ARCN. Higher elevations in ARCN generally had later snow-off dates, though there was some interesting variability within this overall pattern. Snow usually disappeared ... [Read full article]

Warm Winter & Early Caribou Migration (May 13, 2014)

Western Alaska experienced an incredibly warm winter (December 2013 - March 2014), with temperatures 6-8 oF warmer than average. Warm and dry conditions continue into spring; coupled with low winter snowfall and rain events, these conditions led to many areas of the winter range of Western Arctic Herd having little or no snow. The herd calves in the Utukok Uplands, north of the Brooks Range, in early June. Right now, the herd’s spring migration to the calving grounds is much earlier (1-3 weeks) than other years the NPS has been tracking its timing.

What are pingos, tussocks, and ice-wedge polygons? (Dec 19, 2013)

Learn about pingos, tussocks, and ice-wedge polygons by using the Arctic Network's new interactive video website. Six videos explain what these fascinating features of the northern landscape are and how the function as part of the arctic ecosystem.

Vegetation Sampling in the Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Network, 2013 Progress Report (Nov 20, 2013)

The National Park Service, Arctic Inventory and Monitoring Network (ARCN) is nearing completion
of the initial round of sampling a system of permanent vegetation monitoring plots across 5 roadless
National Park Service (NPS) units in northern Alaska. Plots are located at “nodes”, which consist of
a base camp and approximately 20 plots accessible by foot or boat from the camp. Node locations are
chosen for accessibility via fixed-wing aircraft and proximity to a variety of ecosystems. Plot
locations are systematic along transects with a randomized start within stra ta based on major
landforms. The main sampling element is plant cover and height by the point intercept method; data
are recorded by species of vascular plants and by species or species-group of non-vascular plants.
Additional data elements include tree diameters and a list of all vascular species on a fixed-area plot,
and a soil and site description.

In 2013 we sampled 141 plots at 7 nodes. The total for the project is now 442 plots at 23 nodes
sampled mainly in 2011-13. We anticipate sampling approximately 45 more plots at 2 nodes in 2014,
at which point the first round of sampling will be considered complete. However, sampling of up to 5
additional nodes in the next several years is possible if data gaps are identified.

Coverage of the major ecological gradients by the plots was generally satisfactory. The distribution
of plots by elevation shows some bias toward lower elevations. This is due to the fact that our
landing sites (mainly lakes and river gravel bars) are concentrated a low elevatio ns, and highelevation areas are largely unvegetated and difficult to access. Ecotypes identified on an existing
ARCN-wide map are generally well represented, with deficiencies noted in the coverage of alpine
barren areas and tall shrub communities. For reasons of access efficiency and safety, these types are
likely to remain under-sampled.

Digital Surficial Geologic Map of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve Published (Sep 18, 2013)

The Geologic Resources Inventory (GRI) Team is pleased to announce the completion and availability of digital geologic map coverage for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (GAAR). Providing parks with digital geologic maps meets the geologic inventory goal defined and funded by the NPS Inventory and Monitoring Program. This map is provided in full GIS coverage and can be found at:


The GRI map


Digital Surficial Geologic Map of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, Alaska (GRI MapCode GSUR)


The GRI GAAR IRMA project record


Potential effects of warming climate on visitor use in three Alaskan national parks (Sep 6, 2013)

Alaska’s national parks draw millions of people annually to enjoy wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and recreational adventure. Visitor use is highly seasonal and occurs primarily during the summer months when temperatures are warm and daylight is long. Climate is an important consideration when planning a trip to Alaska’snational parks because of the great distances and associatedcosts of travel for many visitors. As a result of projected climatewarming, peak visitor season of use in Alaska’s national parksmay expand. To examine the potential effects of warming climate on park visitor season of use, we used regression analyses to quantify the relationship between historical (1980–2009) visitoruse and monthly temperatures for three Alaskan national parks and identi? ed the monthly mean temperatures at which the peakvisitor season of use occurred in each park. We compared thesecontemporary temperatures with projected future average monthlymean temperatures for 2040–2049 and 2090–2099 to providecontext for how visitation might be affected by warming climate.Based on historical relationships among temperature, visitor use, and increased temperatures associated with climate change, ouranalysis suggests that peak season of visitor use could expand into May and September depending on the park, the climate scenario,and the time period. As a consequence of a warming climate, planning by the National Park Service and other stakeholders mayneed to consider this transition in temperatures and the potentialfor an extended peak season of visitor use, along with otherclimate-related changes (e.g., extreme weather), climate-inducedenvironmental changes, and shifts in recreational opportunities that will likely accompany climate change.

Last Updated: June 30, 2014 Contact Webmaster