• Abundance, composition and distribution of predatory gelatinous zooplankton in the northern Gulf of Alaska

      Mendoza Islas, Heidi M.; Hopcroft, Russell R.; Coyle, Kenneth O.; Cieciel, Kristin; Danielson, Seth (2020-08)
      Jellyfish are conspicuous yet under-studied components of marine zooplankton communities. Abundance, biomass, size, and distribution of large-jellyfish were measured during July and September of 2018 and 2019 as part of the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research (NGA-LTER) cruises. Nearly 1000 kg dispersed among ~13,800 jellies were collected using a 5 m² Methot net. Catches were dominated by two macro-jellies, the hydrozoan Aequorea sp. and the scyphozoan Chrysaora sp. During 2018, epipelagic macro-jellies biomass averaged 1.46 ± 0.36 g WW m⁻³ for July and 1.14 ± 0.23 g WW m⁻³ for September, while during 2019 they averaged 0.86 ± 0.19 g WW m⁻³ for July and 0.72 ± 0.21 g WW m⁻³ by September. Despite similar biomass among sampling seasons within the same year, July abundances were fivefold greater than abundances in September, with July catches dominated by juvenile jellyfish over the inner shelf, while during September jellyfish adults were more prominent and most predominant at offshore stations. Comparison to over 20 years of data from standard towed nets allowed determination of the relative magnitude of the three dominant predatory zooplankton components: Scyphozoans, Hydrozoans, and Chaetognaths in the NGA. The biomass of these smaller epipelagic predators (10 mg WW m⁻³ for hydrozoans and 8 mg WW m⁻³ for chaetognaths) is a low percentage of the macro-jellies, despite their much higher numerical abundance. Acknowledging that changes in gelatinous biomass could have profound effects on fisheries, we argue that jellyfish should be quantitatively monitored in ecosystems with high fisheries productivity.
    • Addressing a complex resource conflict: humans, sea otters, and shellfish in Southeast Alaska

      Ibarra, Sonia Natalie; Eckert, Ginny L.; Monteith, Daniel; Pyare, Sanjay; Langdon, Stephen J.; VanBlaricom, Glenn (2021-05)
      Complex resource conflicts may benefit from the inclusion of social-ecological systems approaches that recognize the complex linkages between humans and their environment. Competition for shared shellfish resources by sea otters and humans in Southeast Alaska has caused food security concerns, cultural and economic losses, and uncertainty about the future of various fisheries, including rural subsistence-based fisheries. In rural Alaska Native communities, access to subsistence resources are critical to maintaining a way of life, with deeply rooted knowledge systems that are tied to the land, water, and natural resources. This dissertation documents Indigenous and local knowledge of Alaska Native customary and traditional food experts, sea otter hunters, and elders (hereafter harvest experts) to understand empirical observation and interpretations of restoring balance with sea otters. This work took place within the traditional territories of the Tlingit and Haida people of Southeast Alaska in four rural communities, Kake, Klawock, Craig, and Hydaburg. With Tribal leaders and harvest experts, my collaborators and I used a participatory framework that became a formal partnership to co-develop study goals, objectives, and methodology. Through a multiple evidence-based approach, I co-conducted semidirected and site visit interviews, structured questionnaires, mapping exercises, and participant observation in all four communities, and intertidal bivalve (shellfish) surveys in Hydaburg and Kake. Qualitative and quantitative approaches revealed local and Indigenous knowledge about sea otters caused changes to subsistence shellfish resources and harvesting patterns that included declines in availability and spatial extent of shellfish harvests, and shifts in shellfish harvest hotspots. Community adaptive strategies to observed shellfish declines include shifting harvest locations away from sea otter presence. Community management recommendations about restoring balance with sea otters include increasing sea otter hunting locally using spatially explicit techniques. Financial subsidies for sea otter hunters, creating local tanneries, legal changes to the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and market creation and development for sea otter handicrafts were noted as solutions to barriers of local implementation to management recommendations. Commercial and charter fisheries are other factors that have contributed to shellfish declines. Butter clam (Saxidomus gigantea) size and density declined with increased distance to community and increased sea otter activity near Hydaburg, demonstrating the influence of sea otters and human harvests on bivalve population dynamics. Application of these results about Indigenous knowledge, management, and governance systems to sea otter management in Alaska could create a more inclusive, equitable and community-driven management approach.
    • Advancing wildfire fuel mapping and burn severity assessment in Alaskan boreal forest using multi-sensor remote sensing

      Smith, Christopher William; Panda, Santosh; Bhatt, Uma; Meyer, Franz (2021-05)
      Wildfires in Alaska have been increasing in frequency, size, and intensity putting a strain on communities across the state, especially remote communities lacking firefighting infrastructure to address large scale fire events. Advances in remote sensing techniques and data provide an opportunity to generate high quality map products that can better inform fire managers to allocate resources to areas of most risk and inform scientists how to predict and understand fire behavior. The overarching goal of this thesis is therefore to build insight into methods that can be applied to create highly detailed fire statistic map products in Alaska. To address this overarching goal we tested several methods for generating fire fuel, burn severity, and wildfire hazard maps that were validated using data collected in the field. Applying the Random Forest classifier on Airborne Visible/ Infrared Imaging Spectrometer Next-Generation (AVIRIS-NG) hyperspectral data we were able to produce a fire fuel map with an 81% accuracy. We then tested two supervised machine learning classifiers, post fire standard spectral indices, and differenced spectral indices for their performance in assessing burn severity. We found that supervised machine learning classifiers outperform other algorithms when there is an adequate amount of training data. Using the support vector machine and random forest classifiers we were able to generate burn severity maps with 83% accuracy at the 2019 Shovel Creek Fire. Lastly, we looked for a relationship between burn severity and environmental conditions prevalent during the Shovel Creek and Nugget Creek fires. Overall, these products can be used by fire managers and scientists to assess fire risk, limit the damages caused by wildfires through adequate resource allocation, and provide the guidelines for creating future high quality fire fuel maps.
    • Age, growth, and movement dynamics of Arctic cod (Boreogadus saida) in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas

      Frothingham, Alyssa; Norcross, Brenda L.; Seitz, Andrew C.; Brown, Randy J. (2020-08)
      Arctic Cod (Boreogadus saida) dominates fish assemblages in the Arctic and provides a valuable food source to upper trophic level predators. Little is known about several important facets of its biology and ecology in the Pacific Arctic, including in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. The physical connectivity of these two biologically and hydrologically unique seas provides an excellent opportunity to explore differences in Arctic Cod life history characteristics such as age, growth, and movement dynamics in these two adjacent areas. To establish a current benchmark of Arctic Cod life history and movement characteristics for the Pacific Arctic, Arctic Cod otoliths collected from 2009 to 2014 during twelve research cruises conducted throughout the Chukchi and Beaufort seas were used to estimate growth and age structure for this species from the two regions. Ages of Arctic Cod ranged from 0 to 5 years with significant overlap in size at age. Growth of Arctic Cod collected in the southern Chukchi Sea and eastern Beaufort Sea regions were similar, suggesting freshwater-influenced regions may enhance growth compared to other areas. Additionally, microchemistry of age-0 Arctic Cod otoliths was analyzed to determine potential differences in elemental signatures between the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, and to infer movement between them. Otolith trace element concentrations were distinct between the Chukchi and Beaufort seas, indicating populations of Arctic Cod from the Chukchi and Beaufort seas can be differentiated based on otolith elemental signatures. Furthermore, elemental signatures from the cores of otoliths were significantly different from those from the edges in both seas suggesting early life history movement. As the Pacific Arctic faces warming sea temperatures and sea ice reduction, predicting a species-level adaptation to a changing environment is nearly impossible without establishing a benchmark for future comparison. This research will provide valuable insight into Arctic Cod across a broad portion of its distribution.
    • Alaska Native men's voices: tracking masculinities through indigenous gender constructs

      Apok, Charlene Aqpik; Topkok, Sean Asiqłuq; Rasmus, Stacy; Million, Dian; Demientieff, La Verne Xilegg (2021-05)
      Alaska Native Men's Voices, an exploratory project, begins to make visible experiences of what it means to identify as an Indigenous male. Indigenous sovereignty includes practice of Indigenous gender knowledge systems. Self- determination of health and wellness by honoring relationships necessitates the affirmation of Alaska Native Men's voices. The complexity and diversity of Indigenous masculinity cannot be homogenized or made into one definition; these are not the goals of the research. This project aimed to articulate how Alaska Native men self- identify, what meaningful intersections of lived experiences can be drawn, and how do these inform healthy gender relations for future generations. The approach in research methods, how the project was done, articulates values of Indigenous led research and scholarship. Findings from shared stories, 18 individual semi-structured interviews, describe notions of Indigenous masculinities rooted in cultural foundations, knowing one's self, having a sense of belonging, and honor relationships from individual, to family and community. Expansive understandings of holistic wellness include narrative of emotional and spiritual healing. Illustrations of ancestral connection and continuance are put forward by participants as expressions of love for future generations of Alaska Native men.
    • The all-night MFA feces incident (bark!) - a photographic novel

      Hindy, Gregory; Farmer, Daryl; Holt, Joseph; Heyne, Eric (2021-05)
      This is a hybrid work of writing, photography, memoir and novel, in which a dog, Pablo, narrates the life of his human, Gus. Gus, a barely fictional persona of the author, is an MFA student who cannot finish his meta-auto-fictional, dog-narrated thesis because he is a hapless perfectionist and now finds himself stressed out the night before a complete draft of his thesis is due, which also happens to be the night of the 2020 presidential election. Gus intends to stay up all night, but quickly falls asleep, so Pablo sits down and writes the 200 pages for him, a literally dog-narrated thesis. Beginning at 1:00 am and keeping track of time as he goes, Pablo is always moving ahead with the next thought in a fragmented, associative, and at times impulsive manner. Pablo thinks about Gus's struggle to write and the various "Incidents" in Gus's life, among other topics of interest to Gus (organized religion, climate change, irritable bowels, minimalism, falling in love, Trump etc.), while also going through Gus's emails, texts, books and photos. Pablo also finds plenty of time to cover some of his own interests (Pablo Ball, killing birds, etc.), philosophies, and opinions. This is part artistic manifesto, part comedy, part rant, part meta rant, and mostly a collage of "Incidents," voices and images that could be read in any order.
    • Analysis of the 2015 Sagavanirktok River flood: associated permafrost degradation using InSAR and change detection techniques

      McClernan, Mark Timothy; Meyer, Franz; Zwieback, Simon; Minter, Clifton (2020-08)
      In 2015, the Sagavanirktok River experienced a sequence of high, early-winter temperatures that lead to a buildup of aufeis. The buildup displaced the spring runoff causing widespread flooding. Flood waters inundated the surrounding tundra introducing heat into ground ice-baring soils. The Sagavanirktok River flood was caused by an extensive ice dam that developed the previous winter. The first flooding pulse started in April 2015, when an aufeis obstruction diverted river water to the surface. The obstruction caused flooding along 24 km of the Dalton Highway and its surroundings, necessitating a prolonged highway closure and emergency repairs. A second flooding pulse was caused by annual spring runoff in May 2015, which was driven by rapid snowmelt due to warm seasonal temperatures. The washed-out highway had to be closed again. Field investigations showed that thermal erosion of ice wedges in the tundra adjacent to the Dalton Highway caused local subsidence by several meters. However, the full environmental impact of the flood has not yet been quantified regionally or temporally. Thermokarst formation, can cause rapid ecological and environmental changes. Thawing of permafrost can lead to terrain instability as the melting of ground ice induces subsidence and loss of soil strength. The processes involved in permafrost degradation are complex, as is predicting terrain stability and the associated impacts to permafrost surrounding infrastructure. The immediate impact of the 2015 Sagavanirktok River flood is evident, which caused rapid terrain collapse in the vicinity of the Dalton Highway and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline near Deadhorse, North Slope Borough, Alaska. Thermal degradation of permafrost can be expressed as the change in the surfacemicrotopography over several years following a flood. Change detection, digital elevation model differencing, and InSAR were employed within the area of interest to understand the extent of the flood and deformation within inundated areas. To determine the likely impacted areas within the area of interest and expanse of the flood, an unsupervised change detection technique of high resolution TerraSAR-X and Sentinel-1 amplitude images was utilized. The topographic deformation analysis to determine the motion on the ground surface used a short baseline subset InSAR analysis of Sentinel-1 data during the summer season following the Sagavanirktok River flooding events. Additional deformation analysis was conducted with ALOS-2 data for annual comparison of the 2015 to 2019 summers. TanDEM-X digital elevation model differencing compared surface models generated from before and after the Sagavanirktok River flood. Elevation model differencing would identify the absolute change between the acquisition time of the surface models. A joint data analysis between deformation and differenced elevation models analyzed the contrast within inundated and flood-unaffected areas; thus, the changes and impact to the permafrost following the 2015 Sagavanirktok River flood. The Sagavanirktok River flood highlights the vulnerability of ice-rich permafrost to flooding. A change in the vicinity of the Sagavanirktok River Delta to the hydrological cycle led to widespread increases in terrain instability. Analysis of summer season deformation data suggested inundated permafrost areas showed lower seasonal deformation in years following the flood. Analysis of annual deformation shows permafrost subsidence intensified in inundated areas in the years following the flood. Digital elevation model differencing produced a statistically ambiguous result. This research illustrates the value of combining TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X, Sentinel 1, and ALOS-2 microwave remote sensing missions for evaluating widespread surface changes in arctic environments. However, annual deformation data proved the most usable tool in observing the changing permafrost ecosystems around the Sagavanirktok River.
    • Anfechtung

      Lyew, Daniel Emerson; Johnson, Sara; Reilly, Terry; Carr, Richard; Farmer, Daryl (2021-05)
      This thesis is a collection of poetry that explores the relationships between time, memory, identity, freedom, and meaning within the context of a shifting and unsteady world. The collection is organized along a trajectory not unlike that of Dante's Divine Comedy, moving through inner and outer landscapes of uncertainty and anxiety before emerging in more ambiguous, subtle spaces. Allusion is used to suggest the continuity and fragmentariness of a tradition (similar to T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"), reformation and response to a tradition (as in Nets by Jen Bevin), and the chancy contingencies of personal experience. Formally, the poems use a wide variety of strategies and forms including erasure and non-traditional lineation to suggest various states of being ranging from the hypnagogic and nightmarish to the nostalgic and wistful, and ultimately to something like hope. The poems also range from highly confessional modes to more abstract, imagistic modes to similarly suggest motion and change.
    • Assessing adverse effects of mercury in two pinniped species

      Lian, Marianne; O'Hara, Todd M.; Rea, Lorrie D.; Kuhn, Thomas B.; Van Wijngaarden, Edwin (2020-08)
      This dissertation studies measures of adverse effects in free-ranging pinnipeds associated with relatively high total mercury ([THg]) or monomethylmercury ([MeHg+]) concentrations, relatively low total selenium ([TSe]) concentrations and/or low TSe:THg molar ratios. Both the Steller sea lion (SSL, Eumetopias jubatus) and Pacific harbor seal (HS, Phoca vitulina richardii) inhabit coasts of the North Pacific, and are considered important sentinel species for One Health (environmental, animal and human health). Relatively high [THg] is reported for some animals in both species, causing concern for adverse effects especially in the developing fetus. Maternal piscivorous diet can expose the fetus to MeHg⁺ at a vulnerable developmental stage, with potential for adverse effects on several organ systems. This dissertation focused on two of these: nervous system development and function and oxidant/antioxidant homeostasis. In Chapter 2 I outlined capture and field anesthesia of free-ranging SSL. I found faster induction times for sevoflurane over isoflurane, with a significant interaction for anesthetist. Difference among the two agents is most likely attributed to the different chemical properties for these gases (blood solubility), whereas personal experience/comfort level most likely explains the differences between the human operators. Severe hypothermia was also documented, associated with the time of year, sex and duration of anesthetic event. There was an overall low mortality rate, and the protocols were effective for relatively safe field anesthesia of a large mammal. Chapter 3 assessed oxidant/antioxidant status and associations with [THg], [MeHg⁺], [TSe] and TSe:THg molar ratio in anesthetized free-ranging SSL pups. The anesthesia protocols described in Chapter 2 were used as a physiological stressor for measuring oxidative stress in SSL. Pinnipeds as diving mammals are naturally adapted with high antioxidant activity to survive long breath-holds during foraging. However, the relatively high [THg] found in some SSL cause concern for sequestration of Se due to its high binding affinity to Hg, and subsequently decreased antioxidant capacity (Se-dependent glutathione peroxidase (GPx)). I found a significant negative relationship between lipid peroxidation and [TSe], suggesting the potential for decreased antioxidant protection from Se. There were also significant associations between increased GPx activity and lipid peroxidation, possibly protecting pups with relatively high [THg] and low TSe:THg molar ratios. In Chapter 4 I repeatedly evaluated live-stranded HS pups admitted to The Marine Mammal Center, using weekly clinical and behavior assessments, which were analyzed for associations with [THg]. There was a significant association between [THg] in hair and/or blood and decreased response to tactile stimulation, less movement and longer stays in rehabilitation. These findings will help us better assess similar [THg] in hair and blood of SSL in Alaska that we currently study as well as other pinnipeds. In summary, this dissertation confirms the potential for adverse effects in two free-ranging species of pinnipeds exposed to MeHg⁺ in utero.
    • Assessing the long-term growth response and age estimation precision for Arctic whitefishes in a rapidly changing nearshore environment

      Gatt, Kyle P.; Sutton, Trent M.; von Biela, Vanessa R.; McPhee, Megan V. (2021-05)
      Accurate monitoring of population-level health and productivity is essential for assessing the status and availability of subsistence harvested species at the forefront of climate change. This study used otolith biochronology to assess the long-term growth response of Arctic Cisco Coregonus autumnalis during a period of rapid environmental change in the Beaufort Sea region and to identify drivers of growth. A biochronology spanning 22 years (1996-2018) revealed significant interannual variation, with faster growth rates in years with warmer (R² = 0.31) and more saline (R² = 0.47) waters during the ice-free summer feeding period (July-September). These results suggested that warming may benefit Arctic Cisco. This study also compared age estimates made using fin rays, scales, and otoliths of four subsistence whitefishes (Arctic Cisco, Least Cisco Coregonus sardinella, Broad Whitefish Coregonus nasus, and Humpback Whitefish Coregonus pidschian) from the Beaufort Sea to compare the aging precision of non-lethal structures (fin rays and scales) to otoliths. Fin rays and scales provided similar age estimates as otoliths until the age of sexual maturity and underestimated otolith age for mature individuals. Scales underestimated age more often and were more difficult to which to assign age than the other two structures. Among Arctic Cisco in Alaska, fin rays and scales provided similar age estimates as otoliths for all age and size classes examined because most individuals in the study area were immature fish. These results suggested that dorsal fin rays may be used to estimate age in Least Cisco <300 mm, Broad Whitefish <450 mm, and Humpback Whitefish <350 mm, and that otoliths should remain the primary aging structure for the largest whitefishes. Overall, this research complements existing monitoring by providing evidence of an Arctic subsistence species that may benefit in part from warming and highlights non-lethal alternatives for monitoring the age structure of juvenile whitefishes.
    • Atmospheric modeling of natural hazards

      Hirtl, Marcus; Stuefer, Martin; Webley, Peter; Simpson, William; Grell, Georg (2021-05)
      Airborne hazards either in gaseous form or particulate matter can originate from a variety of sources. The most common natural airborne hazards are ash and SO₂ released during volcanic eruptions, smoke emitted caused by wildfires and dust storms. Once released into the atmosphere they can have a significant impact on different parts of the environment e.g. air quality, soil and water, as well as air traffic and ground transportation networks. This latter field is an important aspect of everyday life that is affected during hazardous events. Aviation is one of the most critical ways of transport in this century. Even short interruptions in flight schedules can lead to major economic damages. Volcanic eruptions comprise one of the most important airborne hazards to aviation. These are considered rare as compared to severe weather, but with an extremely high impact. This dissertation focusses on dispersion modeling tools and how they can support emergency response during different phases of volcanic eruption events. The impact of the volcanic ash cloud on the prediction of meteorological parameters and furthermore the dispersion of the ash is demonstrated by applying the Weather Research Forecasting (WRF) model with on-line integrated chemical transport (WRF-Chem) to simulate the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland. Comprehensive observational data sets have been collected to evaluate the model and to show the added value of integrating direct-feedback processes into the simulations. The case of the Eyjafjallajökull eruption showed the necessity to further develop the volcanic emission preprocessor of WRF-Chem which has been extended for flexible and complex ash and SO₂ source terms. Furthermore, the thesis describes how scientists could support operational centers to mitigate hazards during a large volcanic eruption event. The author of the dissertation coordinated a large exercise including experts across all Europe within a project funded by the European Union. The exercise aimed to develop and test new tools, models, and data to support real-time decision making in aviation flight planning during a volcanic crisis event. New state-of-the-art modeling applications were integrated into a flight planning software during a fictitious eruption of the Etna volcano in Italy with contributions from scientists, the military and the aviation community.
    • Beyond trending: using risking connection as a framework for moving agency culture toward trauma-informed care

      Healey, Michael J.; Renes, Susan L.; Strange, Anthony; Baker, Courtney; Anahita, Sine (2020-08)
      The prevalence and pervasive impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and more broadly, trauma, are well supported in the extant literature. Despite this evidence, there remains a significant dearth of formal training and educational programs that prepare staff who work with trauma survivors within complex behavioral health systems. Trauma-informed care (TIC) has moved beyond a trend in the mental health field and is gaining momentum as a leading philosophical paradigm that is being infused as an operational framework for agencies that work with survivors. Risking Connection (RC) is a curriculum-based training program that works with agencies interested in becoming trauma-informed. The current study examined the impact of RC on trainee outcomes for knowledge gain, attitude change, and vicarious trauma (VT) on 119 participants who all work for a therapeutic group home system being operated by a provincial government in Atlantic Canada. The findings in this study suggest that RC is effective in improving knowledge gain and attitude change in a favorable direction toward TIC. The study also supported previous findings associated with the improvement of VT.
    • Blood falls, Taylor Glacier, Antarctica: subglacially-sourced outflow at the surface of a cold polar glacier as recorded by time-lapse photography, seismic data, and historical observations

      Carr, Chris G.; Pettit, Erin; Carmichael, Joshua; Truffer, Martin; Tape, Carl (2021-05)
      Blood Falls forms when iron-rich, hypersaline, subglacially-sourced brine flows from a crack in the surface of Taylor Glacier, Antarctica. If air temperatures are low enough, the brine freezes to form a fan-shaped icing deposit. In chapter two, historical observations (including photos, oral histories, written descriptions, and field sketches) are evaluated using a confidence assessment framework to compile a history of brine icing deposit presence or absence during summer field seasons between 1903-1904 and 1993-1994. Additionally, an alternative explanation for a small, localized advance of a portion of the terminus is proposed: rather than temperature-driven ice viscosity changes, rising lake level drove temporary, localized basal sliding which induced advance, thinning, and collapse of a part of the terminus previously grounded on a proglacial moraine. In chapter three, time-lapse imagery is used to document a 2014 wintertime brine release that occurred in the absence of surface melt. This suggests that meltwater-driven fracture propagation of surface crevasses downward into the glacier was not a likely factor in this brine release event, as has been previously proposed. Further, there is no evidence for an increase in Rayleigh-wave activity prior to or during the brine release that would be characteristic of shallow seismic sources. Together, this suggests that sufficient pressure is built in the subglacial system to trigger basal crevassing and fracture propagation upward to allow brine release at the surface. In chapter four, two different seismic detectors that use ratios of short-term to long-term seismic energy variance to identify seismic events are compared. The detectors use different statistical distributions to determine what constitutes a large enough ratio to trigger an event detection. Differences between what the two detectors identify as events rather than background noise are interpreted as environmental microseismicity with a distinct diurnal and seasonal occurrence. Minimum detectable event sizes over 3-day time windows are compared. Together, these studies provide context for the history of brine release events, wintertime brine release characteristics, and descriptions of the local seismic environment at Taylor Glacier.
    • Born to burn: characterizing fuel loads, flammability and plant traits across spatio-temporal gradients of black spruce dominated communities

      Grzesik, Emilia J.; Ruess, Roger; Hollingsworth, Teresa; Turetsky, Merritt (2020-12)
      The flammability of black spruce forests is influenced by the fuel loadings and quality of fuels within a site, whereas the ability of a site to self-replace after fire, and thus forest resiliency, depends on the fire-ecological trait attributes of the plant community. Black spruce plant communities have been undergoing self-replacement succession from low to moderate severity fires for thousands of years, however, recent intensification of interior Alaska's fire regime is leading to shifts in post-fire successional trajectories, resulting in many ecological implications. This study focuses on understanding the variation in black spruce forest flammability, based on fuel load quantity and quality, and fire-ecological plant traits in 28 black spruce dominated sites ranging across age and moisture gradients in interior Alaska. I quantified tree canopy, understory and below-ground fuel loads, developed models to predict fuel loads and then utilized my measurements of above-ground fuel load quantity and quality to calculate a site-level flammability index. Based on my analyses, significantly greater flammability indices, and thus burning potential, occur in sites greater than 34 years in age, at elevations greater than 302 m and with dry site moisture, which are representative of dry, nonacidic upland black spruce and dry, acidic upland black spruce-lichen forest ecosystems. Furthermore, although fire-ecological plant trait attributes of Hylocomium splendens and Vaccinium uliginosum vary with age and moisture gradients, the amount of intra-specific trait variation within a site could not be explained by stand age or moisture and thus forest resiliency is also likely independent of age and moisture gradients. Further research is necessary to explore both abiotic and biotic explanatory variables related to intra-specific plant trait variation to better understand variation in black spruce forest resiliency on the landscape. The results from this study can assist fire managers in the prediction of black spruce forest burning potential and its vulnerability to ecosystem shift post-fire.
    • Bristol Bay dual permit operations, vessel heterogeneity, and the migration of Alaskan permit holders

      Gho, Marcus J.; Criddle, Keith; Adkison, Milo; Adkison, Milo; Twomley, Bruce; Brown, Benjamin (2020-08)
      This dissertation examines three aspects of Alaska's Limited Entry program. Chapter 1 explores the outcome of dual-permit regulations. The Alaska Board of Fisheries passed regulations allowing for dual permit operations in the Bristol Bay Pacific salmon drift gillnet fishery starting in 2004. These regulations allow two permit holders to fish from a single vessel with additional gear. Policymakers anticipated that the dual permit regulations would encourage young fishermen to enter the fishery and reduce the number of limited entry permits transferred from local fishermen to nonlocal fishermen and nonresidents. Statistical analyses reported in Chapter 1 indicate that the dual-permit program successfully offset part of the adverse influence of increases in the market value of permits on the number of new entrants and that implementation of dual-permit regulations was followed by a reduction in the median age of new entrants, particularly among nonresidents. However, the implementation of dual-permit regulation failed to staunch the outflow of limited entry permits. Chapter 2 examines the persistence of heterogeneity in the size of fishing vessels active in the Bristol Bay salmon drift gillnet fishery. When entry was limited, the commercial fishing fleet included a mix of vessels up to the long-established 32-foot maximum length. The race for fish that so often arises under license limitation favors the adoption of vessel and gear configurations that maximize catch-perday and could be anticipated to lead to increased homogeneity in fleet composition. Yet, statistical analyses indicate that even after over four decades, the composition of this fleet remains heterogeneous in vessel size and vessel value. Multivariate analysis of time series observations of vessel values indicates that vessels captained by permit holders who were given their permit are less capitalized than vessels captained by permit holders who purchased their permit. Likewise, vessels operated by local resident permit holders are less capitalized than vessels owned by nonlocal Alaskan or nonresident permit holders. In addition, vessels operated by older permit holders are less capitalized than vessels operated by younger permit holders. Chapter 3 examines the factors that influence the migration of permit holders. Since limitation, there have been concerns that ever more of the permits issued to individuals local to Alaska's fisheries would come to be held by individuals who were not local to the fisheries. The count of permit holders local to a fishery can change because of transfers, administrative cancellations, or because permit holders migrate either to or from fisheries where the permit is used. Chapter 3 considers possible factors that predict permit migration to or from different residency classes. Included in our analysis was a look at season length, fleet participation rates, permit transfers, the size of the fleet, gear type, wages of construction workers to serve as a proxy for substitute employment, and the local unemployment rate. Statistical analyses indicate that fisheries with longer seasons show slightly elevated migration from local to nonresident status of permit holders. Permit latency and permit holder migration have a negative relationship among the significant variables. Transfers serve as a substitute for permit migrations and provide the largest influence on permit migrations. For every resident type of migration, as the transfer rate increases, fewer permit holders migrate. The total number of permits within the fishery also affects the migration of permit holders, albeit only minimally. The second-largest influence on permit migration is gear type. Migrations to local setnet permit holders had a smaller magnitude of change than migrations from permit holders across most categories. Generally speaking, migration tends to move towards a nonresident status of permit holders. Wages of construction workers were only significant at the 5% level for transfers from locals to nonresidents and from nonresidents to locals, but both variables were positive. As the local unemployment rate increases, the rate of locals emigrating outside of Alaska increased.
    • Changing glaciers in the Brooks Range and western Chugach Mountains, Alaska: mass loss, runoff increase, and supraglacial volcanic tephra coverage

      Geck, Jason; Hock, Regine; Coakley, Bernard; Dial, Roman; Loso, Michael (2020-12)
      Glaciers in Alaska cover over ~87,000 km² (~ 6 % of the state) with most glaciers thinning and retreating at an increasing rate. The thinning and retreating of glaciers worldwide can have an immediate socio-economic implication in addition to the longer-term glacier meltwater contribution to sea level rise. This dissertation investigated Alaskan glaciers in the Brooks Range for mass loss and area reductions over the period 1970-2001 (Chapter 2), historic mass balance and runoff for Eklutna Glacier, located in western Chugach Mountains, using a temperature index model over 1984-2019 period (Chapter 3), and the persistence of tephra from a volcanic eruption of Mt. Spurr in 1992 on seven western Chugach Mountain glaciers (Chapter 4). Glaciers in the Brooks Range in Arctic Alaska (> 68° N) are important indicators of climate change and provide information on long-term climate variations in an area that has few high elevation meteorological stations. Digital elevation models (DEMs) reconstructed from topographic maps were differenced from an interferometric synthetic aperture radar DEM to calculate the volume and mass changes of 107 glaciers (42 km²). Over the period 1970-2001, total ice volume loss was 0.69 ± 0.06 km³ corresponding to a mean (area-weighted) specific mass balance rate of -0.54 ± 0.05 m w.e. a⁻¹ (± uncertainty). The arithmetic mean of all glaciers' specific mass balance rates was -0.47 ± 0.27 m w.e. a⁻¹ (± 1 std. dev.). A subsample of 36 glaciers found a 26 ± 16 % mean area reduction over ~35 years. Alaska's largest city, Anchorage, is critically dependent upon the melt water of Eklutna Glacier (29 km²) for both drinking water and hydropower generation; however, the glacier is rapidly retreating. We used a temperature index model to reconstruct the glacier's mass balance for the period 1985-2019 and quantify the impacts of glacier change on runoff. Eklutna Glacier experienced a significant annual mean surface mass balance negative trend (-0.38 m w.e. Decade⁻¹). Mean annual cumulative melt increased by 24 % between the 1985-93 and 2011-19 period. Additionally, the day of the year when 95% of annual melt has occurred was eight days later in the later time period than in the earlier period, demonstrating a prolongation of the melt season. The modeled mean annual discharge increased at a rate of 0.2 m decade⁻¹. This indicates that peak water, i.e. the year when annual discharge starts decreasing as the glacier becomes smaller, has not been reached. The past increases in runoff quantity and melt season length provide opportunities for water resource managers that must be balanced against future decreased runoff as the glacier continues to shrink. Volcanic eruptions deposit volcanic tephra on glaciers in Alaska, modifying surface albedo and glacier melt. We mapped the distribution of tephra originating from the eruption of Mt. Spurr in 1992 using aerial photos and satellite imagery on seven glaciers located approximately 180 km east of the volcano in western Chugach Mountains in southcentral Alaska. The glaciers were completely covered with ≥ 500 g m⁻² tephra immediately after the event. Tephra deposits are still visible on all glaciers 26 years after the eruption. Using LandSat 8 surface reflectance bands, we quantified percentages of tephra glacier coverage. Results suggest an increasing tephra extent on five of the seven investigated glaciers over 2013-2018 period explained by firn line retreat. The mean percent increase for all glaciers was 4% with Troublesome Glacier showing greatest increase (~ 7 %) and Finch Glacier showing a slight decrease (~ 1 %). This long- term tephra persistence on glacier surfaces most likely enhanced melt although the precise effect remains unknown.
    • Characterization of water-soluble brown carbon (WS-BrC) from boreal forest wildfires in the summer season at northern high latitudes

      Banerji, Sujai; Mao, Jingqiu; Simpson, William R.; Guerard, Jennifer J. (2021-05)
      In the current study, we quantify the absorption Ångström exponent (AAE) and the mass absorption coefficient (MAC) of water-soluble brown carbon (WS-BrC) from boreal forest wildfires. We deployed a Particle into Liquid Sampler (PILS) - Liquid Waveguide Capillary Cell (LWCC)-Total Organic Carbon analyzer (TOC) system in downtown Fairbanks during the summer of 2019, to measure the light absorption by WS-BrC between around 200 nm to around 800 nm wavelength range every four minutes, and the concentration of the water-soluble organic carbon (WSOC), every two minutes. We then compute the AAE and MAC to examine the optical properties of brown carbon from boreal forest fires. During this period, several forest fires burned and we sampled particles from these fires. We explored a number of quantitative methods to compute the AAE and find that using the entire wavelength range of 300 nm to 350 nm appears to best represent the wavelength dependence of BrC absorption, in contrast to using just a pair of two wavelengths. The calculated AAE is observed to be ~3 for smaller wildfires and above ~3 for medium and large wildfires, whereas the calculated AAEnew is observed to be ~5 during the sampling of small, medium and large wildfires. The calculated MAC at 365 nm (MAC₃₆₅) tends to be ~1.0 m² g⁻¹ and remains relatively constant during wildfire events. We further compare these values to measurements reported from mid-latitude wildfires, to quantify the difference between the wildfires in Alaska and Canada from that of the wildfires in the contiguous U.S.
    • Climate change, moose, and subsistence harvest in Arctic Alaska

      Zhou, Jiake; Kielland, Knut; Kofinas, Gary; Tape, Ken D.; Prugh, Laura (2020-08)
      Arctic climate is resulting in transformative changes to Arctic social-ecological systems. With warming-induced increases in tall-shrubs, moose are expanding their range northwards. However, the socio-economic implications of this ecological change are unclear. Using field surveys, interviews, and modeling, I assessed the impact of climate change on moose harvest by hunters of Nuiqsut, an Inupiat community in arctic Alaska. Based on a 568 km transect of field sampling on shrubs and herbivore browsing levels, I estimated that the minimum shrub height for moose occurrence was ≥ 81 cm (95% CI: 65 - 96 cm). Patterns of moose geographic distribution mirrored tall-shrub distribution in arctic riparian areas. I also found that snowshoe hares may impact moose habitat via potential resource competition. Habitat suitability models, using Maxent and simpler temperature-threshold models, predicted that moose habitat may more than double by 2099 if current warming trends continue. The model outputs also suggested that climate warming will likely increase habitat connectivity, enhancing range expansion of moose in the Arctic. Finally, I used a coupled social-ecological systems (SES) framework to assess the implications of changes in tall-shrub habitat to moose harvest under future warming. Despite the expected increase in moose habitat and distribution, simulations of an agent-based model showed that the future may not translate into greater harvest opportunities, largely due to the limitation of river navigability for hunters. These findings provide an example in which rapid landscape and resource change may not translate into increased harvest. The integrated assessment with a SES framework revealed new and surprising outcomes, not evident when evaluating social and ecological components separately. This analysis highlighted how a coupled social-ecological framework can be used to assess the effects of climate change on ecosystem services.
    • Community composition and biogeography of beetles and spiders across an elevational gradient in Denali National Park, Alaska

      Haberski, Adam; Sikes, Derek S.; Hollingsworth, Teresa; Armbruster, W. Scott (2020-08)
      Anthropogenic climate change is rapidly altering alpine ecosystems in Alaska. Trees and woody shrubs are expanding upslope and displacing alpine tundra. As alpine tundra habitats shrink and fragment, arthropods and other animals face an increased risk of extirpation due to smaller population sizes and reduced geneflow. Arthropods--insects, spiders, and their relatives--are the most speciose component of the alpine fauna and perform key ecosystem services, such as pollination and nutrient cycling, and are food for vertebrates. Many species have responded by shifting their distribution to higher elevations, but species respond to change idiosyncratically, which could alter species interactions and disrupt communities. I compared beetle and spider communities along an elevational gradient in Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska, an area with a complex biogeographic history and a poorly known arthropod fauna, in order to 1) examine differences in diversity, abundance, and community composition among forest, shrub, and alpine tundra habitats; 2) link the observed differences to abiotic factors relevant to climate change; and 3) test if shared habitat preferences lead to community-level patterns in geographic distribution. After three consecutive summers of sampling, I found that alpine tundra supports an unexpectedly diverse arthropod community with a high proportion of unique species and that vegetation cover and mean air temperature are strongly correlated with community composition. I therefore expect species losses among alpine tundra communities as shrubification continues. Community-level distribution patterns were not observed, but trends in the data point to a reduction of Holarctic distributions among forest-dwelling arthropods and an increased proportion of Beringian endemics among tundra species. This was the first systematic survey of Denali's terrestrial arthropods and added over 450 new park records.
    • Computational analysis of nanofluids flow and heat transfer in microchannels and fin tube air coils

      Ray, Dustin R.; Das, Debendra K.; Peterson, Rorik A.; Misra, Debasmita; Kim, Sunwoo (2021-05)
      The four goals of this dissertation were to investigate nanofluids' thermal and fluid dynamic performance in (i) an air coil, (ii) microchannel heatsink, using computational fluid dynamic (CFD) software, ANSYS Fluent, develop (iii) hydrodynamic entrance length correlation and (iv) apparent friction factor correlations in rectangular microchannels. In cold regions of the world, ethylene glycol mixed with water (EG/W) are used as a heat transfer fluid instead of water due to their freeze protection. EG/W has low thermal conductivity than water, which can be improved by dispersing nanoparticles and creating a new fluid called nanofluid. A computational scheme was developed based on the Effectiveness-Number of Transfer Unit (ε-NTU) method to compare nanofluids' thermal and fluid dynamic performance to the conventional ethylene glycol and water mixture. The nanofluid's performance was examined by conducting two studies: reducing pumping power and reducing the air coil's surface area via length. The results showed at a dilute concentration of 1% of Al₂O₃ can reduce the pumping power requirements by 35.3% or reduce the air coil length by 7.4% while maintaining the same heat transfer rate as EG/W. The results show nanofluids could provide significant savings in energy or material costs. The nanofluids' (Al₂O₃, CuO, and SiO₂) thermal and fluid dynamic performance used in a microchannel heatsink was explored using analytical and computational methods. The computational model was developed in ANSYS Fluent. Comparing analytical and computational results, good agreement was observed validating both methods. The three nanofluids had a maximum difference of 4.1% for pressure drop and 2.9% for the Nusselt number. Three performance studies were conducted using the analytical model based on constant Reynolds number, maximum surface temperature, and pumping power. A constant Reynolds number of nanofluids could reduce the maximum surface temperature by 6K, but at the cost of increased pumping power. Nanofluids showed the pumping power could be reduced by 23% compared to the base fluid while maintaining equal maximum surface temperature. In electronic cooling applications where microchannel heatsinks are used, nanofluids seem promising for lowering critical components' operating temperatures and contribute to increased life and system reliability. A detailed three-dimensional laminar flow CFD model was developed and ran for Reynolds numbers ranging from 0.1 to 1000 through six rectangular microchannels aspect ratios (α): 1, 0.75, 0.5, 0.25, 0.2, 0.125. The majority of the Reynolds numbers simulated were in the low regime (Re< 100) to fulfill the lack of literature for determining accurate hydrodynamic entrance length and apparent friction factor for microchannels. From these numerical simulations, improved correlations were developed to predict hydrodynamic entrance length with a mean error of less than 2% and a maximum error of 5.75% for 0.1 ≤ Re ≤ 1000 & 0 ≤ α ≤ ∞. For the apparent friction factor in microchannels, three correlations were derived from the numerical simulations: fully developed friction factor (fRe), developing incremental pressure drop number (K(z)), and fully developed incremental pressure drop (K(∞)). The three correlations were used to determine the local fapp,zRe, in the applicable range of 0.1 ≤ Re ≤ 1000 & 0.125 ≤ α ≤ 8. The correlations showed a mean deviation of less than 3% and a maximum deviation of less than 8.3% from the numerical data.