Potential Effects of Climate Change on Sitka Hydropower


Total and seasonal water availability (rain and snowpack) appears to be changing with climate throughout southeast Alaska, where hydropower supplies the majority of electricity.

SNAP, in collaboration other UAF researchers and NOAA, is using climate projections to determine if Southeast Alaska is facing a climate regime shift that might alter hydropower electricity availability. The proposal aims to assess whether recent precipitation and reservoir inflow anomalies in Southeast Alaska are within the normal range of variability over the observational record, or if they are evidence of a potential regime shift associated with climate change.

This project will focus on Sitka’s Blue Lake and Green Lake projects. Although focused on Sitka, the results of this study are intended to be useful to other hydroelectric utilities throughout southeast Alaska that are experiencing similar changes in total and seasonal water availability.

SNAP is working on this project in collaboration with:

  • Jessica Cherry, a post-doc research faculty member at the International Arctic Research Center (principal investigator)
  • Amy Tidwell, a research faculty member at UAF’s Water and Environmental Research Center (co-investigator)
  • Susan Walker, a Marine Resources Specialist and Regional Hydropower Coordinator with NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service Habitat Conservation Division, Alaska Region. Susan will help coordinate data exchange with Southeast Alaska municipalities and facilitate communication between the municipalities, utilities, and the contracted researchers.

Project Details

SNAP Contact:  Nancy Fresco

Project Status:  Completed

Collaborator(s): None