The annual cycle of freezing and thawing of rivers is an integral part of life in rural Alaska. Freeze-up (FU), break-up (BU) and the duration of ice and open water affect transport and communications, hunting, fishing, trapping and recreation. Ice jams during FU and BU can cause widespread flooding and disruption. FU, BU and duration are also important proxies for climate variability and change.
The Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska operates magnetometer sites at locations across Alaska and Western Canada. Originally established as the Alaska Meridian Chain, the number of sites has increased to support the GI rocket program carried out at the Poker Flat Rocket Range. In addition to fluxgate magnetometer, all-sky cameras, Meridian Scanning Photometers and other instruments are occasionally operated at the sites.
GISMO was a spaceborne radar system designed to measure the surface and basal topography of terrestrial ice sheets and to determine the physical properties of the glacier bed. The primary objective was to develop the technology to obtain spaceborne estimates of the mass of polar ice sheets with an ultimate goal of providing essential information to modelers estimating the mass balance of the ice sheets and their response to changing climate.
Over the course of the project, ALISON created a professional learning community that  increased knowledge and understanding of scientific inquiry and promoted polar science in the classroom,  contributed to scientific knowledge and understanding of lake ice and snow,  reduced teachers' physical and professional isolation,  improved ties and understanding between K-12 educators and university faculty, and  produced a unique data set that is archived at the Alaska Satellite Facility's Geodata Center, Geophysical Institute, UAF and is available from this web site (see Data Downloads).
The 2007-2008 International Polar Year (IPY) provided an international framework for understanding high-latitude climate change and predicting world wide impacts. Recent and well-documented observations of the sometimes dramatically changing components of earth’s cryosphere and particularly at high latitudes made IPY science investigations particularly timely and relevant to scientists, policy makers and the general public.
Surface melting on the Greenland Ice Sheet is an important indicator of Arctic terrestrial climate change much as the observations of dwindling Arctic sea-ice document climate change over the polar ocean. Most surface melt studies are conducted using satellite based observations. The longest continuous time-series of satellite measurements available for Greenland is from passive microwave sensors (since December 1972). More recently higher resolution scatterometer and optical data are complementing the passive microwave data set.
Jakobshavn Glacier, Greenland's largest glacier, drains approximately 6.5% of the ice sheet and is a key factor in the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Although the interior of the ice sheet is in a state of balance, the coastal region has continued to thin. While there has been variability in the velocity of Jakobshavn over time the ice front has steadily retreated. It wasn't until the year 2000 that an increase in ice flow velocities was recorded and an increasing trend observed.