In the coming year technicians will install an array of 17 remote automated stations in five national park areas in northern Alaska to help the National Park Service track climate trends.
The stations, which will be solar-powered, are intended to collect a variety of scientific data to help improve weather and climate data gathering in the region, the Park Service said in a release. The Arctic Alaska Inventory and Monitoring Program was established several years ago as one of 32 such networks across the country.
The instruments will be installed in Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (4 sites), Noatak National Preserve (6 sites), Kobuk Valley National Park (1 site), Cape Krusenstern National Monument (2 sites), and Bering Land Bridge National Preserve (4 sites). The climate stations will be located on Park Service-administered lands, with installation of the stations expected to be completed sometime in 2012.
"These climate stations will collect basic weather observations including air temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, and snow depth and transmit these observations hourly via satellite," the agency said. "These observations will be posted to the Western Regional Climate Center’s (WRCC) web site in near real-time (http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/NPS.html), where they will be available to climate scientists and other users."
“The stations are designed for remote, high latitude, extreme cold conditions," said Gates of the Arctic Superintendent Greg Dudgeon. “We’ve minimized the visual and physical impact by making the stations as compact as possible. They’ll be powered year-round by a solar panel and batteries.”
According to Dr. Robert Winfree, the regional science advisor for the Park Service in Alaska, "large portions of the five parks have no climate station coverage, and the new stations will help to fill major gaps in our understanding high-latitude weather patterns. Deployment of 17 climate stations within the parks will better position the NPS to detect climate trends and extreme weather events, to protect wilderness resources within the context of rapid climate change.
“Climate monitoring in parks is critical to informed resource management decisions and also contributes to broader-scale climate monitoring and modeling efforts,” he said.
Recognizing the potential for substantial climate-related impacts to park and wilderness areas, the NPS has completed climate change response strategies for the National Park System and for the Alaska Region. Both documents stress the importance of providing park and wilderness managers with accurate and detailed information about the status, trend, and spatial distribution of ongoing and projected changes in key climate attributes, along with information about which areas are most likely to experience relatively rapid or severe changes. Documents are available at http://www.nps.gov/akso/climatechange.html