GSS Travels North of the Arctic Circle

From July 4-15, GSS staff members Andy Robertson and Jeff Knopf were in Alaska conducting fieldwork in the far north of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as part of mapping projects for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.  This multi-part project involves the mapping of National Hydrography surface waters and National Wetland Inventory features that will be utilized as baseline information for environmental assessments, as this region is vulnerable to variations in landscape and habitat due to changes in climate, thermokarst activity and oil exploration.

Andy and Jeff were stationed at the Kavik River Camp, made famous in the television documentary, “Life Below Zero”. From Kavik Camp, daily fieldwork investigations were conducted by helicopter across the nearly seven million acre project area in order to gather information on vegetation, soil, saturation, permafrost and landscape dynamics.  Andy and Jeff also took numerous pictures to support findings and to provide a broad depiction of hydrologic mechanisms for other staff and partners to use in mapping.

While in the field, Andy and Jeff assisted the University of Maryland’s efforts to generate an inundation model, intended to assist in the definition of wetland water regimes, by visiting several sites to validate the output of sample data provided to them by university scientists. Notes and pictures were shared with the University of Maryland to help them better design algorithms in their model needed to identify inundation.