IAB Research Project Description

Magnitude and Rates of Lake Drying in Wetlands on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska

Graduate student J. Roach collects material for a project on lake drying in wetlands on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. Credit: Courtesy of J. Roach

Any and all uses of these images must include photographer credit.

Climate warming is particularly evident in the Arctic and sub-Arctic, has accelerated in the 1980s, and is associated with 4-31% reductions in the number and surface area of closed-basin lakes in Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge wetlands and total lake area in Siberia. The sixteen national wildlife refuges in Alaska cover more than 77 million acres and comprise 81% of the entire National Wildlife Refuge System. Wetlands are the dominant land-cover type on Alaska refuges and define the national and international importance of refuges as waterfowl breeding areas. Refuge wetlands support millions of waterfowls and shorebirds and produce hundreds of thousands of ducklings, goslings and shorebirds annually that have been recovered in nearly all states, eight Canadian Provinces and other countries. Climate change could alter the fundamental nature of Alaska refuges. Objectives: 1.Complete a statewide estimate of the heterogeneity in closed-basin lake drying initiated by Brian Riordan. 2.Estimate the rate of change in total surface water and compare this to the rates of change documented for closed-basin lakes in National Wildlife Refuges during the same time period, 1950-2002. 3.Document factors associated with variability in the magnitude and rate of drying among closed-basin lakes in study areas in Nation Wildlife Refuges. 4.Document the effects of wildfire on open water dynamics in refuge wetlands.

Project Funding

U.S. Geological Survey
1 Oct 2005 – 31 Jan 2009
IAB Proposal #06-027
UAF Grant #G2959
IAB Project #122

Media Contact

Marie Thoms
Communications/Web Manager
Institute of Arctic Biology
302A Irving I
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000
email: methoms@alaska.edu
phone: 907.474.7412