• Hydrology and Meteorology of the Central Alaskan Arctic: Data Collection and Analysis

      Kane, D.L.; Youcha, E.K.; Stuefer, S.L.; Myerchin-Tape, G.; Lamb, E.; Homan, J.W.; Gieck, R.E.; Schnabel, W. E.; Toniolo, H. (2014-05)
      The availability of environmental data for unpopulated areas of Alaska can best be described as sparse; however, these areas have resource development potential. The central Alaskan Arctic region north of the Brooks Range (referred to as the North Slope) is no exception in terms of both environmental data and resource potential. This area was the focus of considerable oil/gas exploration immediately following World War II. Unfortunately, very little environmental data were collected in parallel with the exploration. Soon after the oil discovery at Prudhoe Bay in November 1968, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) started collecting discharge data at three sites in the neighborhood of Prudhoe Bay and one small watershed near Barrow. However, little complementary meteorological data (like precipitation) were collected to support the streamflow observations. In 1985, through a series of funded research projects, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF), Water and Environmental Research Center (WERC), began installing meteorological stations on the North Slope in the central Alaskan Arctic. The number of stations installed ranged from 1 in 1985 to 3 in 1986, 12 in 1996, 24 in 2006, 23 in 2010, and 7 in 2014. Researchers from WERC also collected hydrological data at the following streams: Imnavait Creek (1985 to present), Upper Kuparuk River (1993 to present), Putuligayuk River (1999 to present, earlier gauged by USGS), Kadleroshilik River (2006 to 2010), Shaviovik River (2006 to 2010), No Name River (2006 to 2010), Chandler River (2009 to 2013), Anaktuvuk River (2009 to 2013), Lower Itkillik River (2012 to 2013), and Upper Itkillik River (2009 to 2013). These catchments vary in size, and runoff generation can emanate from the coastal plain, the foothills or mountains, or any combination of these locations. Snowmelt runoff in late May/early June is the most significant hydrological event of the year, except at small watersheds. For these watersheds, rain/mixed snow events in July and August have produced the floods of record. Ice jams are a major concern, especially in the larger river systems. Solid cold season precipitation is mostly uniform over the area, while warm season precipitation is greater in the mountains and foothills than on the coastal plain (roughly 3:2:1, mountains:foothills: coastal plain).The results reported here are primarily for the drainages of the Itkillik, Anaktuvuk, and Chandler River basins, where a proposed transportation corridor is being considered. Results for 2011 and before can be found in earlier reports.