Summer ’22 brings new ways to access climate data

The snow has melted here in the Arctic and here at SNAP, this summer smells like feedback season. Two SNAP tools have entered public beta recently. If you’re a climate data user, we’d love to hear your feedback about the new Arctic EDS and Northern Climate Reports tools!

In this issue:

Arctic EDS beta launch

To turn the Environmental Atlas of Alaska into the initial beta launch of the Arctic Environmental and Engineering Data + Design Support System, the SNAP team has spent this spring testing infrastructure, integrating new datasets, and building a website. The site is live now, and we want to share it with Arctic engineers this summer, as development continues. This version of the EDS includes datasets across three categories: Climate, Engineering, and Physiography. As the project grows and feedback is received, more datasets will be added and participants can expect significant shifts in data and design over time.

The current beta testing site comprises 11 maps across those three categories that allow users to visualize and explore 32 datasets or subsets of datasets. We’ve also created a primer on the nature of the beta, the background of the project, what additions are already under consideration, and how to provide feedback to guide the team.

We want to ensure that this tool continues to grow and become more relevant to the real-world work of engineers and planners in the North. Please share these links with anybody who might be interested in exploring this first draft of the next generation of engineering support tools.

Northern Climate Reports tool beta launch

The CASC-funded Integrated Ecosystem Model for Alaska and Northwest Canada Project has been developing a unique approach to integrating permafrost, wildfire, and terrestrial change models to better understand Arctic ecosystems in a changing environment. Modeling and research were just the first steps toward the goal of providing scenarios and summaries of key climate variables to decision-makers. SNAP has stepped in to provide the expertise that’s helping push those summaries to users in a variety of ways through a simple portal.

That portal, the Northern Climate Reports tool, is now live with a public beta! Users can query point locations by area and other criteria. Clicking the map returns a list of nearby areas, or areas can be searched in the same location dropdown as communities. Queries may also be made by fire management unit, hydrological unit, climate division, game management unit, protected land (state parks, national parks, wilderness areas, etc.), and ethnolinguistic region.

Selecting a location leads users to a results page, which begins with a plain-language summary of the data results and trends for that region. Users can then scroll to explore charts, graphs, and maps of historical and projected temperature, precipitation, permafrost, wildfire, and vegetation type changes. As with all SNAP tools, charts are easily downloadable, datasets are easily traceable, and CSV downloads for all data are available as well.

Visit the tool, and if you have comments or suggestions to improve the tool as we work to make it better for users please use the feedback survey to let us know what you think.

Data highlights

API

As part of our tool infrastructure, we’ve been building an Application Program Interface (API) to ease data access for other users and programmers. The SNAP-built Alaska + Arctic Geospatial Data API has data endpoints covering baseline historical and projected information, model outputs, polygons used in our tools, and more.

Visit the website to explore endpoints and to retrieve sample code for integration into other tools and workflows. If you build something cool, send us an email! We’d love to see what you come up with.

Communication highlights

SNAP at the annual Arctic Research Open House

Each year the research units at the University of Alaska Fairbanks join forces for a one-day extravaganza of public communication around research. The Arctic Research Open House presents the opportunity for local media, decision-makers, youth, and the public to meet researchers, get their hands on the equipment that we use every day, and ask questions about UAF science. This year’s event, Science in Your Neighborhood, included participation from 15 research units, and included climate science, energy solutions, oceanography, geophysics, biology and more.

Participants at the Garden Helper Tool table had the opportunity to guess when various crops may be viable based on changes in projected season length and growing degree days in Fairbanks.

As part of the International Arctic Research Center’s presence at the event, SNAP Director Scott Rupp and SNAP Science Communicator Mike DeLue presented information on the Arctic EDS and the popular Alaska Garden Helper web tool.

While preparing we got the Arctic EDS beta and every published edition of the Environmental Atlas of Alaska together for a touching family photo.

National News on Wildfire features SNAP tool

This year’s wildfire season in Alaska is shaping up to be an intense one, with more than 2.4 million acres already burned across the Interior. As the smoke and fire make national news, so do the researchers and data available across the International Arctic Research Center. If are a Washington Post subscriber, check out this article on extreme lightning and wildfire, which features SNAP’s own Wildfire Tally Tool alongside collaborators like IARC’s own Rick Thoman, the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center, and the National Weather Service.

The Washington Post story highlights the unprecedented cumulative area burned in the Southwest Area in particular.