Speakers: Rick Thoman (ACCAP), Crane Johnson (NWS Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center)
There’s a deep spring snowpack across Alaska as spring melt approaches. Crane Johnson with the NWS Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center will review break-up basics and an overview of current conditions. ACCAP Alaska Climate Specialist Rick Thoman will provide the latest subseasonal outlooks that help inform the APRFC’s official break-up outlook.
Speaker: Gay Sheffield, Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program
During summer 2020, the Bering Strait region of Alaska experienced a marine debris event that brought garbage ashore that was different from the types and amount typically observed. A collaborative response to the event was undertaken by the regional public out of concern for food security, wildlife health, and human health. Residents, tribal leadership, and communities documented, reported, conducted clean-up activities, and investigated the source of debris on a voluntary basis using personal resources, little to no training, and limited response capacity. Without significant collaborative transboundary communication and/or enforcement of existing international marine pollution rules, the Bering Strait region should expect more marine garbage as industrial maritime ship traffic increases.
Speaker: Jeremy Littell, Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center (CASC)
Climate futures – the projected changes in climate and their impacts – are key content for adaptation plans, vulnerability assessments, and other planning efforts that consider climate change and its impacts. Despite this need, climate projections consistent with best practices for climate information and tailored to areas of interest for those engaged in planning for climate change have been rare in Alaska. For example, summaries are available for a whole climate division, or a specific community, but what about a specific land management unit, or area of interest to a community? In this talk, Jeremy Littell will describe work the Alaska CASC has done to provide climate information that meets these needs and some encouraging developments that will allow us to better meet the information needs that are emerging from this work.
Speakers: Rick Thoman (ACCAP), Tom Ballinger (UAF), Walt Meier (National Snow & Ice Data Center)
NOAA’s 16th annual Arctic Report Card was released in December, with an overarching theme documenting ongoing and incipient disruptions to Arctic environments and peoples. This year’s report card features 14 essays and ACCAP’s Rick Thoman will provide a drive-by tour of diverse topics covered this year, ranging from Arctic hydrology to glacial and permafrost hazards to communities to the ongoing changes in underwater soundscape in the Arctic. UAF’s Tom Ballinger will provide an overview of air temperatures and Walt Meier with the National Snow and Ice Data Center will review sea ice conditions and drivers during the year.
January 25 @ 10:00 am to 11:00 am AKST
Speaker: Tom Ballinger, International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Alaska’s central and eastern interior (CEI), including the greater Tanana Valley and Yukon Flats, has consistently been the most fire prone area of the state during the last two decades. Toward operational and research applications, several surface fire weather indicators have been developed, such as the Buildup Index (BUI), and linked to CEI fire ignition, size, and spread. Beyond few analyses involving extreme fire years, studies have seldom examined the role of regional atmospheric circulation in modulating the region’s fire weather conditions through time. Moreover, modern forecast models’ skill in predicting such fire weather conditions is relatively low beyond a lead time of 10-14 days. This shortcoming creates numerous challenges for the fire managers attempting to mobilize resources for potential impacts. More complete understanding of atmospheric patterns and processes and their statistical linkages with fire weather at long-range weather-to-climate scales could thus be broadly useful to the fire community.
In this webinar, we will discuss historical relationships between regional atmospheric circulation and peak CEI fire weather conditions (e.g., BUI maxima) through the different fire season phases (i.e., wind, duff, drought, and diurnal periods) during the 1979-2020 period. We will first provide an overview of past fire studies conducted through a synoptic circulation framework. We will then introduce the updated Alaska Blocking Index (ABI), a metric that quantifies the overlying middle tropospheric flow. Subsequently, we will discuss the ABI’s associations, at weekly-to-monthly lead times, to intraseasonal peaks in CEI fire weather conditions. Case studies detailing ABI conditions preceding extreme fire years will also be summarized. We will conclude with a discussion of paths forward and potential applications of the ABI and other regional ocean-atmosphere indices toward Alaska wildland fire prediction at lead times out to the seasonal scale.