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Climate Change and Alaska’s Bodies of Water, USA – May 29th, 2013

64.2N 149.4W

May 29th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Image of the day

USA – May 28th, 2013

Several bodies of water along the coast of Alaska, USA, can be viewed here: Cook Strait, brownish grey with sediments (right), Bristol Bay (below, center) and Norton Sound, partially ice covered (upper left).

Global warming is currently impacting Alaska and will continue to impact it a number of ways. These impacts include melting polar ice, the retreat of glaciers, increasing storm intensity, wildfires, coastal flooding, droughts, crop failures, loss of habitat and threatened plant and animal species.

According to scientists, Arctic sea ice extent in 2012 was the lowest since satellite records began in 1979; it was 16 percent lower than the previous low in 2007 and more than half of what it was in 1979. Less ice means more open water – which means greater absorption of solar energy – which leads to increased warming in the ocean, and in turn accelerates more ice loss.

This has led to a wide range of impacts in Alaska, including: melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and flooding of coastal communities; thawing permafrost, increased storm severity, and related infrastructure damage to roads, utility infrastructure, pipelines and buildings; loss of the subsistence way of life as animal habitat and migration patterns shift and as hunting and fishing become more dangerous with changing sea and river ice; forest fires and insect infestations increasing in frequency and intensity (click here for more information).

Bristol Bay and Ahklun Mountains, Alaska, USA

57.9N 160.6W

March 6th, 2012 Category: Mountains

USA - January 3rd, 2012

This wide-swath ASAR image shows Bristol Bay, the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, in Southwest Alaska, USA. Bristol Bay is 400 km (250 mi) long and 290 km, (180 mi) wide at its mouth. A number of rivers flow into the bay, including the Cinder, Egegik, Igushik, Kvichak, Meshik, Nushagak, Naknek, Togiak, and Ugashik. Here, a layer of ice, appearing light grey, can be seen over some of the waters.

Visible north of the bay are the Ahklun Mountains, in the northeast section of the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Alaska. They support the only existing glaciers in western Alaska, and are the highest Alaskan mountain range west of the Alaska Range and north of the Alaska Peninsula. To the west of the range is the Kuskokwim River and to the east is the Bristol Bay lowlands.

Phytoplankton Bloom in Bristol Bay Near Alaska Peninsula

57.8N 160.8W

August 25th, 2011 Category: Phytoplankton

Phytoplankton Near Alaska, USA - August 25th, 2011

The bright teal stain in Bristol Bay, near the Alaska Peninsula, is a phytoplankton bloom (click here for previous images). Subsurface phytoplankton blooms are relatively common in Bristol Bay (particularly from mid August to early September).

Bristol Bay is the eastern-most arm of the Bering Sea, in Southwest Alaska. Bristol Bay is 400 km (250 miles) long and 290 km, (180 miles) wide at its mouth. A number of rivers flow into the bay, including the Cinder, Egegik, Igushik, Kvichak, Meshik, Nushagak, Naknek, Togiak, and Ugashik. Upper reaches of Bristol Bay experience some of the highest tides in the world.

Phytoplankton in Bering Sea Near Alaska, USA

58.6N 160.9W

August 22nd, 2011 Category: Phytoplankton, Rivers

Phytoplankton Near Alaska, USA - August 17th, 2011

A bright teal phytoplankton bloom colors the waters of the Bering Sea near the shores of Alaska, USA. Visible near the shoreline, north of the bloom, is Hagemeister Island, located on the north shore of Bristol Bay at the entrance to Togiak Bay.

Visible further north, upon opening the full image, is the Yukon River,  a major watercourse of northwestern North America. This portion of the river visible here lies in, and gives its name to, Alaska’s Yukon Territory. The river is 1,980 miles (3,190 km) long and empties into the Bering Sea at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Patterns off Southern Coast of Alaska, USA

58.8N 159.6W

January 11th, 2010 Category: Lakes

USA - December 19th, 2009

USA - December 19th, 2009

This orthorectified image shows the southern end of the Kuskokwim Mountains near the southern shores of Alaska, USA. Visible near the top center are Ualik Lake (left) and Amanka Lake (right).

The radar imagery also makes it possible to observe water currents and ice in Kulukak Bay, south of Ualik Lake, and the larger Bristol Bay, occupying the lower half of the image. This patterns are particularly striking along the coastline of the Nushagak Peninsula (right), a 35 mi by 15 mi peninsula that separates Bristol Bay and Nushagak Bay, trending southeast to Cape Constantine.