Scientists at the Geophysical Institute are involved in scientific
research into Earth, Sky and Space. They specialize in cold climate research of all kinds.
Some of the research is performed with the Alaska Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)
Facility in the Geophysical Institute.
Among those things studied is the Aurora Borealis, part of their studies of
the earth's geospace environment, covering the space from the sun to our atmosphere. Studies
of the Aurora have been the centerpiece for
their research since the Institute was first established in 1946. The Aurora
provides a wonderful example of the interaction between the solar wind and the earth's
atmosphere. There are some
spectacular Aurora images
on the internet and the page linked here has an aurora forcast.
links for the aurora can be found here.
The Atmospheric Sciences research group's interests cover a broad
spectrum of topics in atmospheric sciences, with our research results
often bearing directly on societal issues surrounding climate variability
and change. Many of the group also maintain research interests in other
regions of the globe. We strive to understand the polar atmosphere and its
role within the earth system. Our projects utilize a variety of
observational, modeling and remote sensing techniques and can be divided
into several topical areas:
Atmospheric Remote Sensing
Chemistry Transport Modeling
Climate Variability and Change
Meteorology of the Middle and Upper Atmosphere
The Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing group is involved with many
diverse research interests. These interests range from geological,
volcanological and planetary sciences and include topics such as, sea and
lake ice, volcanoes, Venusian structures with stereo-derived topography,
ecology and much more! We are fortunate to receive data in real time, such
as AVHRR, MODIS and RadarSat at our receiving stations and through
networks from NOAA stations. NASA World Wind - image cropped by Jon Dehn.
The group has access to additional data and knowledge from other
associated remote sensing groups at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
The Earth and Planetary Remote Sensing group includes these research
Seismology and Geodesy:
The faculty and research scientists who comprise the Seismology and
Geodesy research group pursue research around the globe, while remaining
directly connected to seismic and geodetic measurements of Alaska's
dynamic tectonics. We study earthquakes in the solid Earth and glaciers,
crustal and mantle structure, active tectonics and deformation of the
Earth. The Alaska Earthquake Information Center, located on site, is in
charge of monitoring earthquakes in mainland Alaska and the Aleutian
Islands. Center personnel educate residents about earthquakes throughout
Alaska the most seismically active state in the nation. As part of the
National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, AEIC informs Alaska
communities on the risks of tsunamis and provides inundation mapping for
many of Alaska's coastal communities.
They are using the dynamic "experiments" provided by the frequent
eruptions in Alaska's Aleutian Arc to study the behavior of magmas as they
approach and erupt at Earth's surface. Explosive volcanism has an
environmental impact reaching way beyond the immediate "disaster" and is a
key to the character and history of the planet and its surface
environment. Within the United States, explosive volcanism is first an
Many faculty and staff from the group are affiliated with the Alaska
Volcano Observatory, which is responsible for understanding and monitoring
volcanic activity across the North Pacific.
The goal of cryospheric research at the Geophysical Institute is to
understand the properties and processes which occur within snow (seasonal
snow cover), ice (including glaciers and sea ice, including greenhouse
effects on the ice sheet.) and Permafrost,
their role in the shaping of the landscape, and their influence on climate
and impact on the biosphere Studies include field investigations
throughout the arctic, antarctic, and and mountainous regions of our
planet, with increasing participation in the exploration of Mars and
Space Physics & Aeronomy:
The Space Physics & Aeronomy research group studies the Earth's
geospace environment, which extends from the surface of the sun to Earth's
stratosphere. Major topics investigated by the group are associated with
the response of the magnetosphere and ionosphere to solar disturbances
that reach the Earth after propagating through interplanetary space.
Researchers in the group carry out their studies using theory and
simulation, sounding rockets, analysis of satellite-based observations,
and ground-based observations of magnetic fluctuations, low-frequency
sound waves, light from auroral emissions, and radio signals reflected
from atmospheric irregularities. The group is affiliated with the UAF
Physics and Electrical Engineering departments, Poker Flat Research Range,
the Poker Flat Incoherent Scatter Radar, SuperDARN, and Chaparral Physics.
The main areas of research carried out in the group are:
Tectonics & Sedimentation
The Tectonics & Sedimentation research group strives to reconstruct the
processes of Earth's history over a variety of time scales. Alaska and the
adjacent regions of the circumpolar North provide a rich environment for
such research. The Pacific, North American and Eurasian plates meet in
Alaska, creating an exciting natural laboratory for research in this area.
Evaluation of ancient geography, oceanography, and climate change
History of continental deformation
Exploration and production of natural resources
Development of the Arctic Ocean
Volcanolgy at UAF encompasses:
Remote Sensing and
The Remote Sensing within the Volcanology group interacts with the
Remote Sensing group. We are entertwined with the Department of Geology;
we work closely with the Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys and
we are part of the
Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) consortium.
"The long term payoff is in education and international connections
as much as science. We try to give students the maximum possible
opportunity to experience different and challenging physical
environments and different styles of doing science. By placing an
emphasis on exchange of information and personnel in the North
Pacific, we hope to re-establish direct connections that were made
impossible by conditions during the last half of the 20th century and
which were, when they existed, essentially re-routed the long way
around the globe. This is an exciting place to do volcanology because
there is a strong aspect of exploration and discovery, because there
is a high level of volcanic activity, and because we are at a historic
moment of reconnection."
The results of the research conducted at the Geophysical
Institute are useful in Alaska both in developing an understanding of scientific problems
(including global change) and in the solution of applied problems (including the
development of resources, such as agriculture).
For more information on the Geophysical Institute, call
(907) 474-7558. You can visit them on the web at Geophysical Institute
They no longer offer guided tours of the Geophysical Institute, but they do
have "self-guided tour packets" that are located in the main entrance of the
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