The Alaskan Breakup: Monitoring Ice Jams with NASA EOS

A map showing the Yukon River Basin, specifically Eagle and Manley Hot Springs, which are the main study areas for this project.

This map represents the Yukon River Basin, specifically Eagle and Manley Hot Springs, which are the main study areas for this project.



Team Location: NASA Langley Research Center

Authors: Kristen Pyne, University of South Florida; Holly Widen, Ball State University; Jacob Banitt, Purdue University; Casey Cavanagh, Virginia Tech; Neil Turnock, University of Cincinnati; Joanna Christina Furst, Poquoson High School.

Advisors/Mentors: Dr. Kenton Ross

Other Acknowledgements: Edward Plumb, NWS, Fairbanks; Scott Lindsay, NOAA; Donald Hillger, Colorado State University.

Abstract: Ice jams are natural disasters that commonly go unheard of because they frequently occur in rural areas or are not severe enough to warrant national attention. Current forecasts and prediction methods are not accurate enough to predict the time of breakup and extent of flooding. An ice jam can cause significant flooding from backed up water and the surge that occurs once the jam finally breaks, allowing the current to move freely again. In 2009, an ice jam formed and blocked the stream flow of the Yukon River, causing water with large chunks of ice to extend beyond the flood banks and into the town of Eagle, Alaska. The United States annually suffers $125 million in damages from ice jams, demonstrating the need for improved forecasts and mitigation. The National Weather Service monitors river ice breakup using river observers, aerial views, and sensors. However, aerial views are expensive and time-consuming. This project intends to advance the use of NASA EOS such as MODIS and SAR in defining the characteristics that lead to ice jams and provide a more cost-effective alternative to the current methodology.



Summer VPS > Disasters


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