arctic valley

State and federal agencies manage over 300 million acres of land in Alaska. Making land management decisions in a changing climate requires high resolution long term climate data over this vast area of land.

The AK CASC will work with resource managers from the National Park Service climate monitoring network to evaluate existing climate monitoring efforts, determine areas of high uncertainty, and select areas to focus new monitoring efforts.

To do this, researchers will compare a number of existing climate data products with current climate information to create maps highlighting areas to concentrate monitoring efforts on, as well as suggest new monitoring techniques. Researchers will also survey weather and climate data users to identify (1) weather stations that provide key research data and/or information for travel, work, and/or recreation planning; and (2) areas where users would like additional climate information.

Why are we doing this?

  • For the vast area of land managed by state and federal agencies in Alaska, a better understanding of existing climate monitoring efforts is needed to improve long term climate monitoring efforts and indicate where to focus new efforts.
  • Federal and state agencies manage about 316 million acres of land in Alaska. Decisions about a host of management activities require information about past, current, and likely future climate.
  • Resource managers require high spatial and temporal resolution climate data with minimal uncertainty to inform management practices.
  • Although Alaska has few weather stations, a number of climate data products have been developed. An evaluation is needed to identify areas of agreement and disagreement among them.
  • Alaskans rely on weather data when planning routine travel, and it is important to understand which weather stations they rely on and where they need additional information.

Approach

Using a variety of climate data products, we will compare datasets for Alaska to find areas of disagreement among them. Uncertainty assessments will be conducted separately on (1) a set of four widely available and commonly used data products (PRISM, ClimateWNA, World Clim, and Daymet) that use different interpolation methods and input data and (2) a set of probabilistically interpolated data produced by scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research that are constructed using consistent input data and a common interpolation method that allows sampling of the uncertainty. These discrepancies will be compared with existing climate data to pinpoint areas where additional monitoring equipment may reduce uncertainty. Areas where monitoring equipment is most effective will also be noted. In addition, we will survey users to assess which weather stations they currently use for different purposes (specifically research and travel planning) and where there is a demand for additional data. The uncertainty maps, combined with survey results will help resource managers identify data needs and prioritize critical areas for management decisions in a changing climate. Monitoring strategies resulting from these efforts could include additional weather stations being implemented, fieldwork to verify remote sensing or modeling products, or the adoption of novel monitoring techniques and strategies.

End products

  • Map and database of existing weather stations
  • Maps highlighting key areas to deploy new climate monitoring equipment and coded as to whether the need arises from climate uncertainty, user demand, or both.
  • An evaluation of existing climate data and projections for Alaska, including the strengths and weakness in the NPS climate monitoring network, the capacity of the network to provide information suitable for scientific study, to support routine monitoring of the trajectory of NPS climate scenarios developed with SNAP, and support for the development of novel methods for monitoring climate in remote areas.

Partners

National Park Service

Project Details

  • Principal Investigator(s): Stephanie McAfee
  • Co-PIs: Jamie Trammell