SNAP Highlights: Winter 2020

SNAP Highlights detail seasonally appropriate tools and data sets from the Scenarios Network for Alaska + Arctic Planning. As winter sets in these SNAP resources can help you prepare for and understand the season’s weather across the state and beyond.

Table of Contents

University of Alaska Fairbanks acquires outdoor adventure app

Supporting adventurers
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has acquired the outdoor adventure and citizen science app Mountain Hub. The app, available on mobile phones and web, allows users to access and report trail and river conditions and wildlife sighting details with photos. Users can also download maps for offline use, and citizen scientists can report the results of snowpack tests which identify weak layers or other instabilities. Geotagged photos, snowpack reports, and wildlife sightings from users then inform safer and more enjoyable back-country trips for other local hunters, skiers, and hikers.

Contributing to science
Mountain Hub also provides critical data for scientific research. Accurate measurements of snowpack depth and quality in remote areas are hard to obtain. Projects like Community Snow Observations use measurements provided through the app to better understand snowpack variability in mountainous regions. As citizen science opportunities grow over time, there will be new measurements to collect and new ways to contribute to scientific efforts while hunting, skiing, rafting, hiking, or otherwise enjoying the outdoors.

Assessing community risk from permafrost thaw

As temperatures cool across the state, now is a good time to consider the changes happening below our feet. The permanently frozen ground, permafrost, which underlies much of the state is changing. Explore permafrost risks and hazards for rural communities in Alaska with SNAP’s Community Permafrost Risks Tool, built as part of a 2019 risk evaluation performed by UAF in collaboration with the Denali Commission.

Community permafrost risks tool

The Community Permafrost Risks Tool provides information on 6 key permafrost-related variables for 187 Alaska villages. Within the tool you can assess the risks associated with massive ice, thaw susceptibility, existing permafrost problems, permafrost occurrence, permafrost temperatures, and overall risk level in each community. 

The tool also allows for quick comparison between communities to assess relative risk and places each community into one of three overall risk categories: high, medium, or low. Use the tool to better understand the soil below your community, and to guide future mitigation plans.

Data highlights

Geophysical Institute permafrost lab model
This set of files includes yearly and monthly model outputs from a landscape scale permafrost model. These specific outputs leverage the power of the Integrated Ecosystem Model project to combine models of different aspects of the ecosystem. This gives us a more holistic understanding of Alaska’s landscape.
Access data:

Alaska snowpack response to climate change
The composition of snowpack in Alaska is important to many sectors such as recreation and commercial fishing. The dataset and publication Alaska Snowpack Response to Climate Change comes from our collaborators at the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center. Using SNAP data, including historical and projected precipitation and temperature, the authors examine shifts in precipitation characteristics across the state.
Access data:

Download the SNAP Highlights document as a pdf.

Snap Highlights are also available as a digital document for download.