SNAP Highlights: Winter 21-22

In this issue

A fresh face for the climate charts tool

SNAP’s Community Climate Charts tool got a significant refresh in late 2021, including a new interface and visual design.

A fresh interface makes data selection options clearer and brings the design of one of the most popular tools in the SNAP tools library in line with other recently updated tools in our catalog. Community Climate Charts will still provide temperature and precipitation projections out to 2099 for Alaska and western Canada—now with streamlined choices and an updated, searchable list of place names.

Advanced users can continue to download data from the tool as a CSV for each community, or through the SNAP Data Portal. Visit the tool to explore climate data across northern communities—from the bright lights and big city of Anchorage, Alaska to the unincorporated community of Zeneta, Saskatchewan.

Moving forward on Arctic EDS – presentation at Permafrost conference

The Arctic Engineering and Decision Support System is under active development, and initial plans and test sites for the system were shown off to the 2021 Regional Conference on Permafrost’s 19th International Conference on Cold Regions Engineering. In late October, the SNAP programming team presented the initial design of the system as well as a sample module that demonstrates the capacities of the system, and the underlying Application Program Interface (API).

The October presentation, led by SNAP Director Scott Rupp and Geospatial Data Analyst Charlie Parr, reflected the current development status of the project including the completion of a detailed user questionnaire, the development and deployment of the API, the drafting of an initial website, and the curation of roughly 20 base data layers. These initial layers focused on geology, permafrost, and physiogeography. 

The presentation also included the presentation of a draft ‘module’ that showed how the EDS data and the API can be used together to build custom calculators and tools. Here, the draft module was a Modified Berggren Frost Depth Calculator.

This pre-beta demonstration, alongside other tools presented for user feedback, have been critical to developing a powerful tool for Arctic engineers to replace the important—but now outdated—Environmental Atlas of Alaska. View a portion of the presentation given during the conference here.

Data Highlights

Indigenous Place Names added to Community Climate Charts tool

The Community Climate Charts tool upgrade also features the first in SNAP’s development of a cohesive list of Indigenous place names. As our datasets improve and expand, and our work continues to grow in the realms of collaboration and co-production of knowledge, it’s crucial that those data include and recognize the place names that precede and continue to exist alongside colonial names.

What does this mean for the tool user? You can now search for locations in the Community Climate Charts tool by either name to return identical results. As an example, typing either “Kaktovik” or “Qaaktuġvik” will return results for “Kaktovik (Qaaktuġvik), Alaska.” These names are integrated into the returned results for spreadsheet downloads as well.

The SNAP team continues to refine the process for determining Indigenous place names, with the goal of increasing the accuracy, discoverability, and accessibility of our data in a variety of contexts.

Mountain Hub supports the Weekend Warrior Data Drive

The SNAP-managed Mountain Hub application is being utilized by new projects and audiences every day, but continues to be a key source of data inputs for the Community Snow Observations project. This winter the project is announcing a new contest format to support ongoing snow observations through the App: the Weekend Warrior Data Drive!

The data drive will run through March 20, 2022, and will offer prizes from Backcountry Access as an incentive to drive data submissions. Find out more on the project website and download the Mountain Hub app to participate in the science and the contest!

Communication Highlights

SNAP Tools presentation to the Coastal Communities Forum

A presentation on the SNAP tools and their application in the context of Tribal resilience and adaptation planning was presented at this year’s Coastal Communities Forum hosted by the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska. The SNAP presentation was viewed by communities across coastal Alaska alongside presenters from other organizations, including the Aleut International Association, University of Alaska Anchorage, the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy, and the Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center.

Aimed at groups ranging from researchers and community leaders to local high school students, the forum was an opportunity to present SNAP tools to a new audience, interact with others doing research and dealing with data in a coastal community context, and receive feedback on how our tools can grow and improve over time. 

Our thanks to the Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska for inviting SNAP to participate in this event!

SNAP in the Tribal Resilience Learning Network series

As part of a series of monthly seminars presented by the Alaska Tribal Resilience Learning Network, SNAP Network Coordinator Nancy Fresco, SNAP Science Communicator Mike DeLue, and Qawalangin Tribe Resilience Coordinator Shayla Shaishnikoff presented on the use of SNAP tools in the context of Tribal adaptation planning. SNAP data are often discussed and used by those deeply familiar with data processing as part of their standard workflow. 

For those working in the contexts of governance or management, the tools offer an easy-to-access window into complex data. Stumbling blocks in those contexts often come in the form not of challenges to answering questions, but knowing what questions to ask. This presentation helped provide a guide to that process as Shayla Shaishnikoff detailed for the audience the specific context of her region’s attempts to develop climate adaptation plans. She showed how they developed an understanding of what they already knew and what climate questions they had, and then how SNAP assisted her community in framing those questions appropriately to be answered by data and tools.