Comparison of a water level measurement performance for two different sensors (pressure transducer versus acoustic) at the East and West Forks of the Eklutna River

SCIENCE

Gabriella Camera-Faurot

Anchorage is the largest city in Alaska and is critically dependent upon the waters of Eklutna Lake. Water from the lake comprises nearly ninety-percent of the city’s drinking water and generates about ten to fifteen-percent of the hydropower (Moran and Galloway, 2006; Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility, 2018). Knowledge of the inflow is imperative for managers to determine water allocation between drinking water, hydropower production, and salmon fishery restoration needs. This project aligns with NASA’s Earth Science Research objective to understand the “interactions among the atmosphere, oceans, land and ecosystems, including humans.” Additionally, this project aligns with the Office of STEM Engagement objective to “build a diverse future STEM workforce by engaging students in authentic learning experiences.” For the past twelve years, students and faculty of Alaska Pacific University (APU) have monitored Eklutna Glacier mass balance and discharge. Between 2010 and 2015, the total mass balance of the entire glacier was between -3.9 and -3.5 in meters water-equivalent (Sass et al., 2017), meaning the glacier is currently losing more mass than it is gaining. Eklutna Glacier is thinning, retreating, and according to Sass et al. “could lose >80% of its present area, and more with continued climate change” (2017) . It is thus important that managers of Eklutna Lake’s waters understand the glacier’s changes and potential impacts on water resources. In this project, we aim to compare two methods of measuring water stage (level) at the East and West Forks of Eklutna River: an in-river pressure transducer and a bridge-mounted acoustic sensor.

Profile

Name: Gabriella Camera-Faorot, Undergraduate Student

Institution: Alaska Pacific University

Major: Marine and Environmental Sciences

Mentor: Jason Geck, jgeck@alaskapacific.edu

Award: Summer Apprenticeship

Funding Period: 2021