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Climate change and its impacts on the physical landscape of ARCN

The overall goal of this project is to develop and implement a network to monitor climate change and its impacts on the physical landscape within their Arctic Network (ARCN) of National Parks, Preserves and Monuments in Alaska. Long-term automated climate reference stations will be installed in this area to detect trends in air temperature, winds, soil temperatures and other climate variables. This is significant since there have been a lack of observations in this area to date and this area is likely experiencing some of the greatest changes in climate of nearly anywhere on the planet.

The CU portion of the project will be to create a synoptic climatology of the ARCN area using the Self-Organizing Map (SOM) algorithm based on global reanalysis data. This will be used to identify the primary weather patterns in the ARCN region and link these to modes of Arctic climate variability (Arctic Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation) as well as to the local weather in the ARCN. The datasets that will be used for the climatology are the 40+ year European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) reanalysis (ERA40), the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) / National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) reanalysis (NNR), and output from Polar MM5 regional atmospheric model simulations. Specifically, we will consider atmospheric fields related to circulation (e.g. sea level pressure and 500 and 300 mb geopotential height). Based on these fields we will use the SOM technique to identify the primary 20 to 35 weather patterns that control the weather and climate of the ARCN region. The frequency of occurrence of these weather patterns will then be determined based on the reanalysis data for seasonal and annual time periods. We will also identify changes in the frequency of these weather patterns as a function of the major modes of climate variability (Arctic Oscillation and Pacific Decadal Oscillation) in this region. Changes in the frequency of these weather patterns over time (from 1958-present) will also be determined.


NPS logoThis research is supported by the National Park Service.

Related links

Project page at the   University of Alaska

Project Participants

University of Colorado
John Cassano
Elizabeth Cassano
Joel Finnis

University of Alaska
Matt Nolan