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2013 Research Projects
2013 Research Initiation Projects
PROJECT: Tectono-thermal History of the Pilgrim Hot Springs, Alaska
PI: Jeff Benowitz, Research Associate, UAF
We will produce, acquire, and integrate existing thermochronology
data with remote sensing data to understand both the tectonic regime responsible for the Pilgrim Hot
Springs thermal anomaly and the spatial-temporal evolution of the thermal anomaly.
2013 Graduate Research Fellowships
PROJECT: Characterizing fabric associated with folding in the Greenland NEEM ice core
PI: Christina Carr, Faculty mentor Erin Pettit, UAF
The North Greenland EEMian Ice Drilling (NEEM) ice core drilled during 2008-2012 contains the first recoverable fold ever reported in an ice core (NEEM community members, 2013). The folding caused certain time periods recorded in the ice core to appear multiple times and upside down (Figure 1). Recent new observations from deep ice penetrating radar images collected by NASA's IceBridge Program show that folding of the deep layers is relatively common across central and northern
Greenland (Dahl-Jensen, et al., 2012) – an observation that has made the ice sheet modeling community reconsider how they treat the flow of ice in their models. Models such as UAF's Parallel Ice Sheet Model (PISM) consider ice as a homogeneous material and do not incorporate this folding behavior or its effects on ice deformation mechanics. The incorporation of folding behavior into ice-sheet models could improve past configuration reconstructions, and in turn lead to greater confidence in predicted future ice-sheet evolution and deformation scenarios. This proposal covers the first steps toward answering the question: how important is the folding process to ice sheet models like PISM? This project will answer the following specific questions: How is folding manifested in the fabric? What information does fabric provide about folding (including relative timing or deformation rates)?
PROJECT: Hot Flow Anomalies at Earth's Bow Shock
PI: Christina Chu, Faculty mentor Hui Zhang, UAF
Hot flow anomalies (HFAs) are kinetic phenomena observed near the Earth's bow shock. They are characterized by a significant increase in particle temperature, substantial particle deflection from the solar wind flow direction, and a corresponding decrease in density.
As a spacecraft travels through a HFA, it will see heated plasma bounded by regions of enhanced magnetic field magnitude and density.
Two distinct types of HFAs have been identified, (Thomsen et al., 1986; Lucek et al., 2004). HFA observations with both a solar wind and reflected component have been interpreted as the signatures of an early stage of development. HFA observations with a single hot-ion population have been interpreted as the signature of the later stages evolution of a HFA. HFAs are important to study and understand because they may play an important role in solar windmagnetosphere
coupling. They may also drive magnetopause motion, boundary waves, and flux transfer events (FTEs). They can excite ultra low frequency (ULF) waves in the magnetosphere, drive magnetic impulse events in the ionosphere, and trigger aurora brightening or dimming. Studying HFAs will aid in the understanding of fundamental processes that operate throughout the heliosphere such as particle energization and shocks. The flux rope signatures in some HFAs (Hasegawa et al., 2012) may also be linked to the understanding of magnetic reconnection physics.
PROJECT: Sea ice influence on benthic community variability in the Alaskan Arctic shelves
PI: Alexandra Ravelo, Faculty mentor Brenda Konar, UAF
Along the Arctic continental shelves epibenthic organisms can be found in high abundance and
biomass. Several members of the benthic community constitute key elements of the Arctic food
web; as prey of marine mammals, birds and fish (Bluhm & Gradinger 2008). Specifically diving
sea ducks, bearded seals, grey whales and walruses feed on benthic organisms. Among the
important epibenthic species encountered on the Alaskan Arctic shelves are brittle stars,
amphipods, snow crab, hermit crab and shrimp (Bluhm et al. 2009, Ravelo & Konar In Review,
Ravelo et al. submitted). Epibenthic communities in the Arctic are dominated by certain taxa
over large spatial scales until key environmental drivers interrupt their distribution (Piepenburg
2005, Ravelo et al. submitted). In the Chukchi Sea, echinoderms occur in dense assemblages
(several hundred individuals per meter square) and high biomass, up to 30% higher than the
highest values reported for echinoderms in the Barents Sea (Ambrose et al. 2001). On the
western Alaskan Beaufort shelf epibenthic invertebrates made up to 94% of the total benthic
standing stock (Rand & Logerwell 2010).
PROJECT: Patterns and Potential Solutions to Coastal Geohazards in Northwest, Alaska
PI: Jacquelyn Smith, Faculty mentor Debasmita Misra, UAF
Coastal erosion and flooding have been on the forefront of natural hazard issues in Alaska for the
last decade. And although most coastal native villages are subject to flooding and erosion (GAO 2003,
2009, USACE, 2009), the rates at which these hazards occur, and the potential for future damages are
mostly unknown. Recent efforts to establish baseline survey data have been made by the Alaska Division
of Geological & Geophysical Surveys Coastal Hazard Program, but an in depth analysis using remote
sensing and numerical modeling has not yet been incorporated.