Explore featured publications representing ongoing work being conducted by early career professionals across the Department of the Interior's Climate Science Centers and partner institutions. If you are a student or post-doc affiliated with one of the regional CSCs and would like to have your publications featured on this page, please contact us at

Alaska CSC

Changing times, changing stories: Generational differences in climate change perspectives from four remote indigenous communities in Subarctic Alaska

Herman-Mercer, N.M. et al., including Toohey, R.C.

2016 | Ecology and Society

Indigenous Arctic and Subarctic communities currently are facing a myriad of social and environmental changes. In response to these changes, studies concerning indigenous knowledge (IK) and climate change vulnerability, resiliency, and adaptation have increased dramatically in recent years. Risks to lives and livelihoods are often the focus of adaptation research; however, the cultural dimensions of climate change are equally important because cultural dimensions inform perceptions of risk.

Two-meter temperature and precipitation from atmospheric reanalysis evaluated for Alaska

Lader, R., Bhatt, U.S., Walsh, J.E., Rupp, T.S., & Bieniek, P.A.

2016 | American Meteorological Society
Image of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks campus in winter

Alaska is experiencing effects of global climate change that are due, in large part, to the positive feedback mechanisms associated with polar amplification. The major risk factors include loss of sea ice and glaciers, thawing permafrost, increased wildfires, and ocean acidification. Reanalyses, integral to understanding mechanisms of Alaska’s past climate and to helping to calibrate modeling efforts, are based on the output of weather forecast models that assimilate observations.

Getting to the root of the matter: Landscape implications of plant-fungal interactions for tree migration in Alaska

Hewitt, R.E., et al.

2016 | Landscape Ecology

Forecasting the expansion of forest into Alaska tundra is critical to predicting regional ecosystem services, including climate feedbacks such as carbon storage. Controls over seedling establishment govern forest development and migration potential. Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF), obligate symbionts of all Alaskan tree species, are particularly important to seedling establishment, yet their significance to landscape vegetation change is largely unknown.

Forest-landscape structure mediates effect of a spruce bark beetle (Dendroctonus rufipennis) outbreak on subsequent likelihood burning in Alaskan boreal forest

Hansen, W.D., Chapin III, F.S., Naughton, H.T., Rupp, T.S., Verbyla, D.

2016 | Forest Ecology and Management

In this paper we evaluated the influence of spruce bark beetle outbreak occurrence during the 1990s on subsequent fire probability on the western Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska. We found that the probability of fire occurrence increased when white spruce (the beetle's dominant host tree) was intermixed with flammable black spruce, likely because fine flashy fuel loads increased in beetle killed white spruce stands that once served as fire breaks. However, probability of fire occurrence did not increase in pure stands of beetle-killed white spruce.  Our results may help us anticipate the dynamics and consequences of future boreal bark beetle outbreaks as climate warms at high latitudes. 

Soil surface organic layers in Arctic Alaska: Spatial distribution, rates of formation, and microclimatic effects

Baughman, C.A., Mann, D.H., Verbyla, D.L., & Kunz, M.L.

2015 | Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences
Chunk of soil

Organic layers of living and dead vegetation cover the ground surface in many permafrost landscapes and play important roles in ecosystem processes. These soil surface organic layers (SSOLs) store large amounts of carbon and buffer the underlying permafrost and its contained carbon from changes in aboveground climate. Understanding the dynamics of SSOLs is a prerequisite for predicting how permafrost and carbon stocks will respond to warming climate.

Sustained increases in lower-tropospheric subsidence over the Central Tropical North Pacific drive a decline in high-elevation rainfall in Hawaii

Longman, R.J., Diaz, H.F., & Giambelluca, T.W.

2015 | American Meteorological Society
Image credit: Sybil Gotsch

The Trade Wind Inversion (TWI) is a prominent feature in the climate system of Hawaii. The TWI caps the vertical development of clouds resulting in extremely dry environments at high elevations (> 2100 m). In this study we analyze the temporal  and spatial variability of the TWI, as well as changes in large-scale atmospheric subsidence over the Hawaiian islands, and high elevation rainfall regimes over a 40 year period (1973-2013). 

Generalizable principles for ecosystem stewardship-based management of social-ecological systems: Lessons learned from Alaska

2014 | Ecology and Society

Management of social-ecological systems will become increasingly challenging in the Anthropocene. I posit six guiding principles for how to manage systems flexibly and effectively in the face of profound environmental change. Principles were developed based on case studies in Alaska where climate change is occurring more rapidly than at other latitudes. 

Northeast CSC

Efficacy of remote telemetry data loggers for landscape-scale monitoring: A case study of American martens

Sirén, A.P.K., Maynard, D.S., Kilborn, J.R., & Pekins, P.J.

2016 | Wildlife Society Bulletin

Remote telemetry data loggers are commonly used for monitoring wildlife species. Although remote telemetry data loggers provide reliable microhabitat use data, few studies have used them to evaluate landscape-scale, temporal, and spatial habitat use. We installed 3 data loggers along a mountain ridgeline that was being developed for a commercial wind farm in northern New Hampshire, USA, to monitor use of a high-elevation forest by American martens (Martes americana).

Spatial ecology and resource selection of a high-elevation American marten (Martes americana) population in the northeastern United States

Sirén, A. P. K., Pekins, P. J., Ducey, M. J., & Kilborn, J. R.

2016 | Canadian Journal of Zoology
Ecologist performing research on American martens

High-elevation forests that contain mature, closed canopy stands are considered important habitat for American martens (Martes americana (Turton, 1806)) in the northeastern United States. To investigate this hypothesis, we monitored 15 radio-collared martens over a 2-year period and measured spatial use, as well as second- and third-order resource selection, from 33 seasonal home ranges and 889 telemetry locations.

The impacts of increasing drought on forest dynamics, structure, and biodiversity in the United States

Clark, J.S. et al., including Peters, M.

2016 | Global Change Biology
Figure identifying the Cumulative Drought Index of Forests, comparing the 1960-1986 and 1987-2013 time ranges.

We synthesize insights from current understanding of drought impacts at stand-to-biogeographic scales, including management options, and we identify challenges to be addressed with new research. Large stand-level shifts underway in western forests already are showing the importance of interactions involving drought, insects, and fire. Diebacks, changes in composition and structure, and shifting range limits are widely observed.