View from the top of a steep, green-sided, u-shaped valley opening onto a blue ocean
Kalalau Valley, Kauaʻi, typifies the abrupt gradient from ridge top to ocean on high Pacific Islands. (Photo: Gh5046, Wikimedia Commons)

Ridge-to-Reef and Icefield-to-Ocean: Collaborative Research in Extreme Environments

A National CASC Webinar

Date: Tuesday, December 7, 2021
Time: 3:00 pm EDT/12:00 pm PDT/10:00 am HST

Mari-Vaughn Johnson, USGS Federal Director of PI-CASC
Stephen Gray, USGS Federal Director of AK CASC


Plane view of icy-covered
Steep snow-covered mountains drop abruptly to the Taku River, Alaska, tying disparate ecosystems together. (Photo: Jeff Conaway, USGS)

Steep watersheds with dramatic environmental gradients are common features of both the Pacific Islands and Southeast Alaska. Climate change is contributing to significant alterations of key processes in both the Ridge-to-Reef of the Pacific Islands and Icefield-to-Ocean watersheds of Alaska, with impacts cascading through terrestrial, freshwater, and nearshore marine ecosystems via the movement of water, energy, biota, and nutrients. Human communities in both regions depend on the cultural and ecosystem services provided by these watersheds. Despite the profound importance of these Ridge-to-Reef and Icefield-to-Ocean systems, sparse monitoring networks, difficult study environments, and inconsistent efforts to incorporate local, cultural perspectives and knowledge into the research process have resulted in severe limitations in our understanding of how these watersheds function and respond to climate and other stressors. In turn, this lack of knowledge presents significant barriers to climate adaptation and management efforts. This webinar will highlight how Alaska and Pacific Islands CASC scientists are responding to these challenges through cross-regional research, cultural engagement, and synthesis. Moreover, we will show how partners in this “Pacific Islands-Alaska Collaboration” are developing a variety of forums for scientists, managers, and students to jointly explore these systems and exchange knowledge as a means to support community-based climate adaptation.

This webinar series is sponsored by NCASC in partnership with the National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) to spotlight the Climate Adaptation Science Centers’ ready-to-use science.