High-resolution climate projections for Southeast Alaska

Planning for the future in the complex landscape of Southeast Alaska is a challenging task. The steep terrain, glacial and marine influences, and thousands of coastal watersheds create a difficult decision making landscape for managers, especially as climate change impacts communities, infrastructure, wildlife and fish. 

The Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center produced a series of high-resolution climate maps for Southeast Alaska to help managers prepare for the rapid changes in climate the region faces. These are the first high-resolution climate projections for Southeast Alaska, an area that is difficult to model due to the complex topography and relative lack of historical weather data.

AK CASC researchers used dynamical downscaling, a numerical modeling technique that uses local weather data and physical factors like coastlines and elevation in combination with coarse, global-scale climate models to create detailed, local-scale data for Southeast Alaska. The global climate models used to create these maps have been downscaled to a 4km spatial resolution for three climate variables: temperature, precipitation, and snowfall. These localized data will support the decision-making processes of resource managers and other stakeholders by providing an insight into how changes to temperature, precipitation, and snowfall will affect the region’s natural resources, wildlife, and infrastructure.

The climate maps are available for historical (1981-2010) and projected (2031-2060) time periods. To give data users a range of outcomes and to help establish confidence in projected trends, three global climate models are used as a basis for these maps: Climate Forecast System Reanalysis (CFSR), Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model (GFDL), and NCAR Community Climate System Model (CCSM).

To download the map files and learn more about which model best suits your needs, visit Climate Projections for Southeast Alaska.