Thursday, April 16, 2009

SNRAS faculty meet with Mark Begich

After Sen. Mark Begich (pictured at right) gives a lecture at UAF Friday, April 17 on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and how it stands to affect Alaska, the Interior, and the university, he will talk with ten UAF researchers to get the nitty gritty about how stimulus funding could further each one’s work.

Organized by Virgil Sharpton, UAF vice chancellor for research, the session will highlight UAF scientific efforts, particularly in light of climate change, but not limited to it. Two SNRAS faculty are involved, Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning Director Scott Rupp and Professor of Forest Ecology Glenn Juday.

Rupp said he is going to the presentation with a positive outlook. “I’m not sure what will come out of it,” he said, “but the senator is clearly interested in finding out how our delegation can help entities like UAF and UA take advantage of stimulus funding.” During his few minutes to talk to Begich, Rupp said he hopes to impress upon the senator the value of the work that SNAP does and the fact that it can be applied across Alaska and in a larger framework too. “I hope he will learn that SNAP is the place to come for anyone in Alaska who is trying to understand what the future will look like,” Rupp said. Examples he gave were if BP were considering building an ice bridge, SNAP could help with projections, or if Homer’s government wanted to know how climate change would impact tourism and fisheries.

Glenn Juday will address the US Geological Survey’s attempt to launch the Yukon Basin Initiative. Juday is the university representative in the partnership. The USGS National Research Program and the Alaska Science Center have been cooperating to collect baseline and process-based water quality data in the Yukon River Basin (2001-2005) as part of a research-based study to understand the basin’s response to climate change. Climatic warming of the Yukon River Basin is resulting in lengthening of the growing season, melting of permafrost, and deepening of the soil active layer. These and related processes are anticipated to result in changes in water and sediment chemistry and discharge in upcoming decades. A better understanding of baseline trends and processes controlling the water quality of the Yukon River and its tributaries will facilitate the proper management of resources as conditions change in response to environmental change. As a first step in understanding these changes, the USGS is monitoring water discharge and making water and sediment chemistry measurements on the Yukon River and all of its major tributaries. “We need to collect reliable information,” Juday said. “And then move on to maintenance.”

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