• Recent changes in plant and avian communities at Creamer's Refuge, Alaska using field and remote sensing observations

      Tauzer, Lila Maria; Powell, Abby; Bret-Harte, Syndonia; Sharbaugh, Susan; Prakash, Anupma (2013-05)
      Plant communities in the north are being profoundly altered by climate warming, but our understanding of the extent and outcomes of this ecosystem shift is limited. Although it was assumed local vegetation changes will affect avian communities, few data exist to investigate this relationship. In an interior Alaska boreal forest ecosystem, this study capitalized on available resources to assess simultaneous change in plant and avian communities over 35 years. Biological changes were quantified in summer avian community data (species composition, diversity, and richness) and in vegetation using archived field data, and supplemented this data with remote sensing observations for a similar time period to assess the validity of this method for documenting environmental change. Field and remote sensing data both documented successional changes resulting in denser, more coniferous-dominated habitats. Birds responded accordingly, which indicates a rapid avian response to habitat change and that they are good indicators of environmental change. Information gained provides more accurate evaluations of habitat dynamics throughout the interior boreal forest and highlights the importance of considering successional change in all long-term climate studies. It allows for better predictions of future habitat change and acts as a strong baseline for future environmental monitoring.
    • Recurrence analysis methods for the classification of nonlinear systems

      Graybill, Mark; Wackerbauer, Renate; Chowdhury, Ataur; Newman, David (2014-05)
      Recurrence is a common phenomenon in natural systems: A system enters and leaves a state, but after a given period of time, passes near that same state again. Many complex signals, such as weather cycles, heartbeats, or neuron firing patterns, all show recurrence. The recurrence plot (RP) displays all times j where a system returns near a state it has occupied at time i, giving rise to upward-sloping diagonal lines where a system follows a recurrent path, orthogonal lines when the system changes very slowly, or many disconnected points where a system's behavior is unpredictable. Investigation of the RP can then proceed through recurrence quantification analysis (RQA). Three new measures for RQA were developed: diagonality, quantifying diagonal lines, verticality, quantifying vertical lines, and periodicity quantifying the arrangement of recurrence points in periodic structures. These new measures were applied alongside classical recurrence measures to explore trends in random data, identify periodicity and chaotic behavior in the logistic map, estimate the dimensionality of the Lorenz attractor, and discriminate between persistent data signals. In collaboration with biologist Dr. Michael Harris, RQA methods were applied to the discrimination of two neuron types: serotonergic cells are believed to stimulate respiration, while nonserotonergic cells are implicated in respiratory inhibition. Typical discrimination methods compare mean and standard deviation of firing rates to a reference line, which correctly classifies serotonergic cells but incorrectly classifies many nonserotonergic cells. Voltage signals from such cells were converted into inter-spike intervals. Convergence required trials containing over 300 spikes for biological methods, and over 1000 for full investigation using RQA. Whether such cells can be discriminated from baseline firing patterns remains an open question.
    • Red squirrel midden model prediction GIS data

      Robold, Richard; Huettmann, Falk (11/30/2019)
      This dataset features the best-available compilation about Red Squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, taxonomic serial number 180168 ) GIS model predictions in a study area in Fairbanks,Alaska. This dataset starts in 20016 and ends in 2017. The data are referenced in time and in space (GPS) and it consist of GIS layers for the UAF campus trails, including LIDAR; the geographic projection is UTM 6N in meters. The dara are compiled from sightings and records by the first author. This dataset represents opportunistic as well as complete sightings for a study area at UAF campus. The actual squirrel data are compiled into an MS Excel sheet and all other data layers are in ESRI format: raster or shapefile Tthe size of the overall data package is app. 21 MB.
    • Regional climate, federal land management, and the social-ecological resilience of southeastern Alaska

      Beier, Colin Mitchell (2007-08)
      Complex systems of humans and nature often experience rapid and unpredictable change that results in undesirable outcomes for both ecosystems and society. In circumpolar regions, where multiple converging drivers of change are reshaping both human and natural communities, there is uncertainty about future dynamics and the capacity to sustain the important interactions of social-ecological systems in the face of rapid change. This research addresses this uncertainty in the region of Southeast Alaska, where lessons learned from other circumpolar regions may not be applicable because of unique social and ecological conditions. Southeast Alaska contains the most productive and diverse ecosystems at high latitudes and a human population almost entirely isolated and embedded in National Forest lands; these qualities underscore the importance of the region's climate and federal management systems, respectively. This research presents a series of case studies of the drivers, dynamics, and outcomes of change in regional climate and federal management, and theoretically grounds these studies to understand the regional resilience to change. Climate change in Southeast Alaska is investigated with respect to impacts on temperate rainforest ecosystems. Findings suggest that warming is linked to emergence of declining cedar forests in the last century. Dynamics of federal management are investigated in several studies, concerning the origins and outcomes of national conservation policy, the boom-bust history of the regional timber economy, and the factors contributing to the current 'deadlock' in Tongass National Forest management. Synthesis of case study findings suggests both emergent phenomena (yellow-cedar decline) and cyclic dynamics (timber boom-bust) resulting from the convergence of ecological and social drivers of change. Adaptive responses to emergent opportunities appear constrained by inertia in management philosophies. Resilience to timber industry collapse has been variable at local scales, but overall the regional economy has experienced transition while retaining many of its key social-ecological interactions (e.g., subsistence and commercial uses of fish and wildlife). An integrated assessment of regional datasets suggests a high integrity of these interactions, but also identifies critical areas of emergent vulnerability. Overall findings are synthesized to provide policy and management recommendations for supporting regional resilience to future change.
    • Regional modeling of Greenland's outlet glaciers with the parallel ice sheet model

      Della-Giustina, Daniella N. (2011-12)
      The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change cites ice sheet dynamics as the greatest source of uncertainty for predicting current and future rates of sea level rise. This has prompted the development and use of ice sheet models that are capable of simulating the flow and evolution of ice sheets and their corresponding sea level contribution. In the Arctic, the Greenland ice sheet appears to be responding to a warming climate more quickly than expected. In order to determine sea level contribution from Greenland, it is necessary to capture the regional dynamics of the fast flowing outlet glaciers that drain the ice sheet. This work has developed a novel regional model capable of simulating an outlet glacier, and its associated drainage basin, as a mode of using the Parallel Ice Sheet Model. Specifically, it focuses on modeling the Jakobshavn Isbrae as a demonstration. The Jakobshavn Isbrae is one of the world's fastest flowing outlet glaciers, and accounts for nearly 5% of ice loss from the Greenland Ice Sheet. Additionally, the Jakobshavn Isbrae has been widely studied for several decades, and a wealth of remotely sensed and in situ data is available in this region. These data are used as model input and for model validation. We have completed a parameter study in this work to examine the behavior of the regional model. The purpose of this study was not to tune the model to match observations, but rather to look at the influence of parameter choices on the ice dynamics. Model results indicate that we have identified the subset of the model parameter space that is appropriate for modeling this outlet glacier. Additionally, we are able to produce some of this more interesting features that have been observed at Jakobshavn, such as the development and disintegration of a floating ice tongue and the distribution of observed surface velocities. We validate these model results by comparison with recent spatially rich measurements of ice surface speeds, as well as ice geometry.
    • Reindeer herding, weather and environmental change on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska

      Rattenbury, Kumi L. (2006-12)
      Intrinsic to the discussion about climate change is the effect of daily weather and other environmental conditions on natural resource-based livelihoods. Reindeer herders on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska have relied on specific conditions to conduct intensive herding in response to winter range expansion by the Western Arctic Caribou Herd (WAH). From 1992 to 2005, over 17,000 reindeer (affecting 13 of 15 herds) were lost due to mixing and emigration with the WAH. An interdisciplinary case study with one herder provided insights about the role of weather within the social-ecological system of herding. Inclement conditions disrupted herding plans at the same time that a smaller herd, diminished antler markets, and rising fuel costs have been disincentives to continue herding. Travel-limiting conditions, such as reduced visibility, delayed freeze-up, and early break-up, were implicated in herd loss to caribou or predators by several herders. However, these conditions have rarely been measured by climate change research, or they involve combinations of environmental factors that are difficult to quantify. If such events occur more frequently, as predicted by local residents and climate change models, herders will have to adapt to shorter and warmer winters, along with the continued presence of caribou in the region.
    • The relation of spring pollen release to weather in Fairbanks, Alaska

      Fathauer, Theodore F.; Mölders, Nicole; Bhat, Uma; Wendler, Gerd (2012-08)
      Twenty-three years of pollen data for Fairbanks have been analyzed and related to meteorological data (temperature, wind, relative humidity and precipitation). The purpose of this research is to develop quantitative statistical relationships between weather parameters and the timing and magnitude of pollen release for four taxa native to the Fairbanks area (birch, alder spruce and grass). During the spring and early summer in Fairbanks, dry, sunny and breezy days are common. These conditions are ideal for establishing an unstable boundary layer and its accompanying convective circulation, which can loft large quantities of pollen into the atmosphere. The timing of pollen release varies from season to season by as many as 24 days. Growing degree days based upon daily maximum temperatures and daily minimum relative humidity are the parameters which best define the timing of the onset of significant pollen release. The day-to-day concentration of pollen and the seasonal totals of pollen released can vary by more than an order of magnitude. Weather plays an important part in this because the release of pollen is a result of a drying process accompanied by turbulent circulation, which disperses the pollen.
    • Relationships among physical activity, diet, and obesity measures during adolescence

      Maier, Janne Holmberg; Knowler, William; Bersamin, Andrea; Barry, Ronald; Wolf, Diana (2014-08)
      Today's high prevalence of obesity is a concern especially in youth. Physical activity and diet are both important factors associated with weight management, and current recommendations are to consume a diet low in saturated fat and high in fiber, fruit and vegetables and to participate in frequent and regular physical activity. Adherence to recommendations is low, a factor that is strongly correlated with development of obesity and associated chronic diseases such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease. While associations between diet and physical activity are well established, investigation of changes in their association during growth is lacking. This thesis uses five years of diet, physical activity, and anthropometric data from 2379 adolescent girls in the National Heart Lung and Blood Institutes, Growth and Health Study to explore associations among diet, physical activity, and obesity cross-sectionally and with age. Variables representing physical activity, diet quality, and obesity, as well as income, maturation stage, and other potential confounders, were evaluated pair-wise for correlation, and bivariate statistics were examined for longitudinal trends. For further evaluation of relationships between groups of variables we used a canonical correlation analysis. First, physical activity variables were grouped with confounders and examined in relationship to diet quality variables; next, we grouped physical activity, diet quality, and confounders and examined the relationship to obesity measures. We found a moderately increasing correlation between physical activity and diet with age and an age-related decrease in correlation of all health behaviors and confounding variables with obesity measures, indicating that obesity measures become less sensitive to behaviors and socioeconomic factors with age at the same time as health behaviors become more tightly linked. These results suggest that while health behaviors continue to interact during growth, and in fact become more intertwined, measures of obesity become more static and may be less responsive to potential interventions with increasing age. These findings should motivate intervention work to aim for youth as potential impact would be greater before health behaviors and obesity measures become "locked in" to the more static frame of adulthood.
    • Relationships between brown bears and chum salmon at McNeil River, Alaska

      Peirce, Joshua McAllister (2007-08)
      Since 1967, the McNeil River State Game Sanctuary (MRSGS) has been managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to 'provide permanent protection for brown bears'. Up to 144 bears have been identified in a summer at MRSGS, and 72 bears at once have been observed in the vicinity of McNeil Falls. In this study, 155 chum salmon were radio tagged as they entered McNeil River and monitored daily. In 2005 and 2006 bears killed 48% of pre-spawning tagged chum salmon and consumed 99% of all tagged chums below McNeil Falls where most of the run occurs. A retrospective analysis of 31 years of run data using a new stream life, and a correction for observer efficiency, revealed that the current escapement goal of 13,750-25,750 actually represents 34,375-64,375 chum salmon. Considering the large removal of pre-spawning chum salmon, I recommend an additional 23,000 chum salmon be added to the escapement goal. Additionally, an annual escapement of 4,000-6,000 chum salmon above McNeil Falls should be set as an objective. These recommendations should encourage increased chum salmon returns, providing both food for McNeil bears, as well as benefiting the commercial fishery with increased harvest opportunities.
    • Relationships between ecosystem metabolism, benthic macroinvertebrate densities, and environmental variables in a sub-Arctic Alaskan river

      Benson, Emily R. (2010-08)
      The aim of this study was to investigate the environmental drivers of river ecosystem metabolism and macroinvertebrate density in a sub-arctic river. Ecosystem metabolism is the combination of gross primary production and ecosystem respiration within a river. Aquatic macroinvertebrates link primary producers at the base of the food web with secondary consumers. The extent to which photosynthetically active radiation, discharge, and nutrients influence metabolism rates and how primary production and river discharge rates influence benthic macroinvertebrate densities in sub-arctic rivers is not clear. These processes ultimately help regulate prey resources available for upper level consumers such as juvenile salmon. I employed Random Forests model analyses to identify important predictor variables for primary production and respiration rates (estimated using the single-station diel oxygen method) at four sites in the Chena River, sub-arctic Alaska, throughout the summers of 2008 and 2009. I calculated Spearman correlations between nutrient levels and metabolism rates. I used Random Forests models to identify the variables important for predicting benthic macroinvertebrate density and biomass at the study sites. The models indicated that discharge and length of time between high water events were the most important variables measured for predicting metabolism rates. Discharge was identified as the most important variable for predicting benthic macroinvertebrate density and biomass. Phosphorus concentration was low (at times below the detection limit), while nitrogen concentration was more variable; the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus was above the threshold for phosphorus limitation, suggesting that phosphorus may have been limiting primary production.
    • Relationships between succession and community structure and function of Alnus-associated ectomycorrhizal fungi in Alaskan boreal forests

      Swanson, Michaela M.; Ruess, Roger; Taylor, D. Lee; McFarland, Jack; Kielland, Knut (2016-08)
      Rates of production and carbon cycling in northern ecosystems depend heavily on nitrogen (N) availability across the landscape. Since much of the available N enters these systems through biological N-fixation, Alnus, with its capacity to fix large amounts of N, plays a critical role in ecosystem response to environmental change. However, because of its high phosphorus (P) demands, the abundance, distribution, and N-fixing capacity of Alnus is tightly controlled by the availability of P and its ability to assimilate P by associating with ectomycorrhizal fungal (EMF) symbionts. We assessed the potential of A. tenuifolia-associated EMF to access organic P forms of varying complexities. More than half of the community on A. tenuifolia were individuals from the genera Alnicola and Tomentella, indicating that the community of EMF on Alnus is a relatively distinct group of host-specific ectomycorrhizal fungi. However, the aggregated acid phosphatase, phosphodiesterase and phytase activities of the Alnus-EMF community were not dramatically different from other boreal plant hosts on the root tip level. We detected variability in the activities of the two Alnus dominants to mobilize acid phosphatase and phosphodiesterase. However, it appears that contrary to the hypothesis that nitrogen-fixing species would associate with EMF types well suited to P acquisition, the potential acid phosphatase activity of Alnicola luteolofibrillosa was significantly below the community mean. Our finding that enzyme activities of Alnus-EMF are not substantially greater than those found on other plant hosts suggests that if host specific EMF on Alnus facilitates P mobilization and uptake, the steps between P hydrolysis and assimilation into plant tissue as well as other pathways of P acquisition may be of greater importance in determining P provisioning to Alnus by EMF.
    • Relative sea level change in western Alaska estimated from satellite altimetry and repeat GPS measurements

      DeGrandpre, Kimberly Grace; Freymueller, Jeffrey; Kinsman, Nicole; Nadin, Elisabeth (2015-08)
      Western Alaska is a remote region populated by small coastal communities that are sensitive to variations in local relative sea level (RSL). The focus of this thesis is to address two main questions; what are the RSL trends in Western Alaska and what are the geophysical processes that contribute to the changes observed? Quantification of RSL variation requires measuring vertical velocities for both land surface motion (onshore component) and the ocean surface (offshore component). This study presents a new method for coastal satellite altimetry estimation, the collection of historic water level measurements, analysis of tide gauge measurements from various sources, GPS vertical velocity model for Western Alaska, estimation of an Earth model and glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) vertical velocities for Northern and Western Alaska, and RSL change model for Western Alaska. The findings of this study result in a GIA model that predicts measured GPS velocities well. The predicted GIA vertical velocities average -1.06 mm/yr in Western Alaska and are combined with the averaged satellite altimetry cells that exhibit a mean sea level change offshore of Western Alaska of -0.27 mm/yr to produce a RSL change model for Western Alaska that increases approximately +0.79 mm/yr in the region.
    • Reliability analysis of reconstructing phylogenies under long branch attraction conditions

      Dissanayake, Ranjan; Allman, Elizabeth; McIntyre, Julie; Short, Margaret; Goddard, Scott (2018-05)
      In this simulation study we examined the reliability of three phylogenetic reconstruction techniques in a long branch attraction (LBA) situation: Maximum Parsimony (M P), Neighbor Joining (NJ), and Maximum Likelihood. Data were simulated under five DNA substitution models-JC, K2P, F81, HKY, and G T R-from four different taxa. Two branch length parameters of four taxon trees ranging from 0.05 to 0.75 with an increment of 0.02 were used to simulate DNA data under each model. For each model we simulated DNA sequences with 100, 250, 500 and 1000 sites with 100 replicates. When we have enough data the maximum likelihood technique is the most reliable of the three methods examined in this study for reconstructing phylogenies under LBA conditions. We also find that MP is the most sensitive to LBA conditions and that Neighbor Joining performs well under LBA conditions compared to MP.
    • Remote sensing and GIS analysis of the spatial and morphological changes of thermokarst lakes: Kolyma lowlands, northeast Siberia

      Tillapaugh, Meghan L. (2011-05)
      Thermokarst lakes develop when changes in the permafrost thermal regime cause degradation leading to surface subsidence and ponding. The degree of thermokarst development depends upon permafrost characteristics, topography, and geology. Changing thermokarst lake dynamics affect arctic ecosystems, hydrological patterns, albedo, and the carbon cycle through the mobilization of organic matter in the permafrost. This study used remote sensing and GIS techniques to relate lake dynamics in the Kolyma Lowlands, Siberia, to geology, elevation, geomorphological features, hydrology, and air temperature. Highest limnicity and largest lake sizes were found in regions with low elevation, limited alluvial processes, high ground-ice content, and lithologies with small particle sizes. New lake development and erosion occurred as well. One subregion studied showed lake area increases (Cherskii: +7.6%) while another showed a decrease (Duvanny Yar: -5.2%). Differences are attributed to variations in elevation and fluvial influences. A major cause of drainage was river tapping of lakes. Lake coalescence, flooding during river water level high stands, and lakeshore erosion were the main causes of lake expansion. The Kolyma Lowland soils have high ice and organic matter contents as well making the monitoring of thermokarst lake dynamics important as large amounts of freshwater and carbon could potentially be released.
    • Remote Sensing of Arctic Landscape Dynamics

      Jones, Benjamin M.; Grosse, Guido; Arp, Christopher; Mann, Daniel; Romanovsky, Vladimir; Verbyla, David (2013-12)
      Amplified warming in the Arctic has likely increased the rate of landscape change and disturbances in northern high latitude regions. Remote sensing provides a valuable tool for assessing the spatial and temporal patterns associated with arctic landscape dynamics over annual, decadal, and centennial time scales. In this dissertation, I focused on remote sensing studies associated with four primary components of arctic landscape change and disturbance: (1) permafrost coastline erosion, (2) thermokarst lake dynamics, (3) tundra fires, and (4) using repeat airborne LiDAR for the measurement of vertical deformation in an arctic coastal lowland landscape. By combining observations from several high resolution satellite images for a 9 km segment of the Beaufort Sea Coast between 2008 and 2012, I demonstrated that the report of heightened erosion at the beginning of the 2000s was equaled or exceeded in every year except 2010 and that the mean annual erosion rate was tightly coupled to the number of open water days and the number of storms. By combining historical aerial photographs from the 1950s and 1980s with recent high-resolution satellite imagery from the mid-2000s, I assessed the expansion and drainage of thermokarst lakes on the northern Seward Peninsula. I found that more than half of the lakes in the study area were expanding as a result of permafrost degradation along their margins but that the rate of expansion was fairly consistent (0.35 and 0.39 m/yr) between the 1950s and 1980s and 1980s and mid-2000s, respectively. However, it appeared that in a number of instances that expansion of lakes led to the lateral drainage and that over the 55-year study period the total lake area decreased by 24%. While these studies highlight the utility of quantifying disturbance during the remotely sensed image archive period (~1950s to present) they are inherently limited temporally. Thus, I also demonstrated techniques in which field studies and remote sensing data could be combined to extend the identification of landscape disturbance events that occurred prior to the remote sensing archive. I identified two large regions indicative of past disturbance caused by tundra fires on the North Slope of Alaska, which doubled the delineated area of tundra fire disturbance on the North Slope over the last 100 to 130 years. I conclude the dissertation by demonstrating the utility of repeat airborne light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data for arctic landscape change studies, in particular vertical surface deformation, and provide momentum for going forward with this emerging technology for remote sensing of arctic landscape dynamics. The quantification of arctic landscape dynamics during and prior to the remote sensing archive is important for ongoing monitoring and modeling efforts of the positive and negative feedbacks associated with amplified Arctic climate change.
    • Remote sensing of erosion and shallow water bathymetry to aid river navigation on the Colville River, Nuiqsut AK

      Payne, Cole S.; Panda, Santosh; Prakash, Anupma; Brinkman, Todd (2018-08)
      The Colville is the longest river (~600 km) in Arctic Alaska. Nuiqsut is an established Alaska Native community of ~400 people on the Colville River. Its residents rely heavily on the Colville for subsistence needs, however, changing river dynamics caused by accelerated bank erosion, river siltation, low water, and shifting and drying channels are causing concern and making boat travel increasingly difficult and dangerous. Recently, local residents have reported increased erosion at bluff sites along the Colville, which threatens existing infrastructure. Also reported are unexpected shallow water sections along the main channel of the Colville, limiting their access to subsistence food sources. Residents have expressed a need for monitoring erosional rates on the Colville as well as a map product that could aid in river navigation. These concerns shaped the main goals of this Thesis: 1) To use remote sensing techniques to map and quantify erosion rates and the volume of land loss at selected bluff sites along the main channel of the Colville, and to assess the suitability of automated methods of regional erosion monitoring. 2) To use optical satellite images for mapping river bathymetry and generate GIS map products that show potential shallow water sections (<2m) and poor channel connections, and to assess the feasibility of future monitoring based off our methods that rely on extracting relative water depth values from publicly available optical remote sensing images. For our erosional study we used orthomosaics from high resolution aerial photos acquired in 1955 and 1979/1982, as well as high resolution WorldView-2 images from 2015 to quantify long-term erosion rates and the cubic volume of erosion. We found that, at the selected sites, erosion rates averaged 1 to 3.5 m per year. The erosion rate remained the same at one site and increased from 1955 to 2015 at two of the four sites. We estimated the volume of land loss to be in the magnitude of 166,000 m³ to 2.5 million m³ at our largest site. We also found that estimates of erosion were comparable for manual hand-digitized and automated methods, suggesting our automated method was effective and can be extended to monitor erosion at other sites along river systems that are bordered by bluffs. For our bathymetry study we used summer 2017 scenes from three optical sensors (PlanetScope 3m, Sentinel 2 10m, and Landsat 30m) along with field measurements on the river to map shallow water bathymetry along a 45 km stretch of the Colville. We found a strong correlation (R²=0.89) between field-measured water depths and image-derived reflectance quantity (natural log ratio of green over red bands). We analyzed the two essential criteria for suitable bathymetry mapping from optical images: clear weather and clear water conditions. We expect several days (≈16) of suitable conditions during the ice-free season to facilitate reliable bathymetry mapping and remote monitoring of shallow water sites. We also discuss a relative depth mapping technique which is useful for boat navigation in the absence of ground truth measurements. We deliberately employed simple and robust empirical techniques that could serve as a basis for a fully developed river monitoring project in the near future led by local community residents. An implementation of our methods by the community, in order to develop a river depth monitoring program, would be an important step forward for the advancement of community-based science and the co-production of knowledge. Our technique may help address emerging environmental and societal issues in other regions where sufficient river navigation fosters local livelihoods.
    • Remote sensing of lake dynamics in Alaska

      Lindgren, Prajna R.; Grosse, Guido; Walter Anthony, Katey M.; Meyer, Franz J.; Romanovsky, Vladimir E. (2016-05)
      Lakes are abundant in high northern latitude permafrost regions. They are important ecosystem components forming a complex and dynamic landscape with repeated cycles of lake formation and drainage affecting regional hydrological and terrestrial characteristics, biogeochemical processes and carbon cycling, wildlife habitats, and human communities living in the permafrost region. Remote sensing is a useful tool to map the spatial distribution of lakes and assess its change, understand lake dynamics, and to extract useful information to study their associated feedbacks in a changing climate. In this dissertation, I focused on remote sensing studies associated with (1) methane ebullition from a thermokarst lake, (2) post-drainage succession patterns in drained thermokarst lake basins, and (3) lake change dynamics. I developed a semi-automatic classification method based on an Object-based Image Analysis (OBIA) framework to detect methane ebullition bubbles trapped in a snow-free ice-covered lake using high-resolution airborne images of Goldstream lake, Fairbanks, Alaska acquired following freeze up in October of 2011 and 2012. This study showed that remote sensing is a valuable tool to map ebullition bubbles (bubble patches) on the entire lake surface with an accuracy of > 95%, a task that is difficult to achieve through field-based survey alone. The image analysis performed by combining the mapping results from the OBIA and field-based observations showed a relationship between bubble patch brightness and ground-measured methane flux, which was then used to estimate the whole-lake methane flux. A strong inverse exponential relationship (R2 >= 0.79) was found between the percent of the surface area of lake ice covered with bubble patches and distance from the active thermokarst lake margin, indicating high methane production as a response to thermokarst activity that released labile organic-rich carbon along the eroding lake margin. Despite the influence of atmospheric pressure conditions on distribution of ebullition bubble patches following the lake freeze-up events, the spatiotemporal regularity of bubble patches revealed that a larger number of seeps are stable over at least annual timescales. This remote sensing technique is applicable to other regions for mapping ebullition bubbles trapped in snow-free ice-covered lakes, identifying their relative flux, and assessing their spatiotemporal dynamics. By using TerraSAR-X (TSX) Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) backscatter data and the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) derived from a Landsat-5 image from the year 2009, I characterized drained thermokarst lake basins (DTLBs) of various age ranging between 0 to 10,000 years since drainage in the northern Seward Peninsula, Alaska. In the study I found logarithmic relationships of basin age from 0 to 10,000 years with mean basin TSX backscatter (R2 = 0.36) and with mean basin NDVI (R2 = 0.53). However, TSX data performed much better to discriminate older basins in the age class 50–10,000 years with R2 = 0.58, while no significant relationship was found between NDVI and basin age. Results of this study demonstrated the potential application of X-band SAR data in combination with NDVI data to enhance differentiation of soil moisture and vegetation status on drained basins for mapping long-term succession dynamics of DTLBs. Finally, I demonstrated the utility of Landsat imagery to identify lake distribution patterns and changes between 1972 and 2014 in six major lake-rich study regions across various permafrost zones covering an area of 68,830 km2 in western Alaska. Even though lake area change was found to be positive (increase by less than 4%) in some study areas while negative (decrease by 4-15%) in others, there was a widespread drainage of mainly large lakes in all regions creating remnant ponds that increased the abundance of lakes <10 ha in all study regions by 2-27%. The average lake area decline observed in various permafrost zones did not represent the trend of individual sites due to spatial heterogeneity in lake characteristics. While lake drainage dominated the non-continuous permafrost zones, areas of continuous permafrost showed both trends of negative and positive lake area change accompanied by major lake drainage events that led to a regional lake area loss in the continuous permafrost zone. This remote sensing technique proved to be useful in identifying ongoing lake drainage and expansion events within study regions and a regional shift in lake distribution (i.e. lake area loss) that is happening in western Alaska. Based upon my research, there is an immense opportunity to use and combine various remote sensing tools to study lake dynamics and to evaluate associated environmental changes. Future work should be directed towards collaborative research for combining field-based observations and remote sensing tools to improve the understanding of how lakes and drained lake basins change in a changing climate as well as extend the scale of observations of methane ebullition features by covering many lakes in an environmentally diverse set of regions. This will guide us to understanding the feedback of lake dynamics to the surrounding ecosystem, global carbon budget, and to upscale the response of lakes to changing climate and permafrost environments to larger regions.
    • Remote sensing of surface albedo and cloud properties in the Arctic from AVHRR measurements

      Han, Wei; Stamnes, Knut; Bowling, Sue Ann; Harrison, William; Li, Shusun; Lubin, Dan; Watkins, Brenton (1996)
      Based on a comprehensive radiative transfer model, algorithms suitable for arctic conditions are developed to retrieve broadband surface albedo and water cloud properties from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) narrowband measurements. Reflectance anisotropy of snow surfaces is first simulated by an discrete ordinates radiative transfer formulation, and is then included in the comprehensive model for the retrieval. Ground-based irradiance measurements made by NOAA Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory (CMDL) in Barrow, Alaska are compared with retrieved albedo and downwelling irradiances computed from retrieved cloud optical depth and effective radius. Good agreement is found between satellite estimates and ground-based measurements, which indicate that the retrieval algorithms proposed in this thesis are suitable for arctic conditions. It is found that the effects of snow bidirectional reflectance on the retrieval of the broadband albedo are significant, and that the Lambertian approximation could lead to a 30% underestimate of the surface albedo. It is also found that cloud effective radius in the Arctic is generally smaller as compared with mid- and low-latitudes.
    • Reproductive decisions by black brant: mechanisms to synchronize hatch and spatial variation in growth rates of goslings

      Nicolai, Christopher Andrew (2003-08)
      I investigated two aspects of reproductive decisions in Black Brant: synchronous hatch within clutches and areas in which to rear their broods. It has been hypothesized that Anatidae facilitate a synchronous hatch through vocalizations among embryos within the same clutch. I performed manipulative experiments in which variation was controlled for both genetic and incubation pattern sources in incubation period length. Our results suggest that vocalizations are not responsible for a synchronous hatch, and I suggest that inherent properties of the eggs themselves are responsible for a synchronous hatch. Additionally, I compared gosling growth rates from areas of low nest densities with those from a main colony to test the hypothesis that broods using dispersed areas were escaping density dependent effects. I found that goslings from dispersed nesting areas did not escape density dependent effects and may actually constitute a sink for the population from additional effects of increased nest mortality in dispersed nesting area.
    • Reproductive ecology and morphometric subspecies comparisons of Dunlin (Calidris alpina), an arctic shorebird

      Gates, Heather River; Powell, Abby N.; Hunter, Christine M.; Lanctot, Richard B. (2011-12)
      The Arctic region provides globally important breeding and migratory habitat for abundant wildlife populations including migratory shorebirds. Due to their remote breeding locations, basic information on breeding ecology, annual productivity, and factors that regulate their populations are poorly studied. Wildlife biologists managing migratory bird populations require detailed information on avian breeding biology, in addition to information on migration ecology including connectivity of migratory stopover and wintering locations. To address information gaps in fecundity, I conducted an experimental study investigating the renesting ecology of Dunlin (Calidris alpina arcticola) by removing clutches at two stages of incubation and by following adults marked with radio transmitters to their replacement clutch. In contrast to predictions for arctic-breeding species, Dunlin had high (82-95%) rates of clutch replacement during early incubation and moderate (35-50%) rates during late incubation. Female body condition and date of clutch loss were important variables explaining propensity for females to replace a clutch; larger females that lost their nest early in the season were more likely to renest than smaller females who lost their nest later in the season. To delineate Dunlin subspecies in areas where they overlap, I used morphological and molecular approaches to determine sex and subspecies of five subspecies of Dunlin breeding in Alaska and eastern Russia. This analysis yielded discriminant function models to correctly classify unknown individuals to sex (79-98%) and subspecies (7385%) via morphometric measures. Correct classification of mixed assemblages of subspecies improved when sex, determined though molecular techniques, was known. The equations I derived using discriminant function models can be used to identify the sex and subspecies of unknown Dunlin individuals for studies investigating breeding and migration ecology.