Alaska Ecoscience

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Ecological monitoring Yukon-Kuskokwim delta

Torre Jorgenson, previously as a Senior Scientist with ABR, Inc. and more recently with Alaska Ecoscience, is assessing the impacts of climate change on the coastal ecosystems of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska. Earlier research while Jorgenson was at ABR was funded the National Science Foundation (1994-1997), U.S. Geological Survey (1998-2001), and the Fish and Wildlife Service (2007-2008), while recent research by Alaska Ecoscience is funded by the Alaska Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey (2008-2010, 2015) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (2016-2018).

YKD tidal marshes photo lowres

Coastal regions of Alaska are impacted by intense storms, the frequency and intensity of which are predicted to increase due to global climate change. While storms are important for the maintenance of salt-affected coastal ecosystems through regular flooding, salinization and sedimentation, they also can erode shorelines, degrade freshwater and terrestrial habitats, damage village infrastructure, and lead to loss of lives. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) is particularly vulnerable because its position on the eastern edge of the Bering Sea lies within a region of frequent storm tracks and extensive low-lying coastal flats. In addition to the likelihood of increased storm flooding, the delta is vulnerable to sea level rise and permafrost thaw associated with a warming climate.


Jorgenson, M. T. 2000. Hierarchical organization of ecosystems at multiple spatial scales on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska, USA. Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research 32 (3): 221-239.

Jorgenson, M. T. and C. Ely. 2001. Topography and flooding of coastal ecosystems on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta: implications for sea-level rise. Journal of Coastal Research 17 (1): 124-136.

Jorgenson, M. T., C. Ely and J. Terenzi. 2012. Monitoring and predicting the effects of climate change on coastal ecosystems on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. In J. H. Reynolds and H. V. Wiggins, eds., Shared Science Needs: Report from the Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative Science Workshop. Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Anchorage, AK. Appendix 5, pp. 130-137.

Jorgenson, M. T. and J. E. Roth. 2010. Landscape classification and mapping for the Yukon-Kuskowkim Delta, Alaska. Final Report for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK by ABR, Inc., Fairbanks, AK. 24 p.

Jorgenson, M. T. and D. Dissing. 2010. Landscape changes in coastal ecosystems, Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK by ABR, Inc., Fairbanks, AK, 22 pp.

Macander, M., M. T. Jorgenson, P. Miller, D. Dissing and J. Kidd. 2012. Ecosystem mapping and topographic modeling for the central coast of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Unpublished Report prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK by ABR, Inc., Fairbanks, AK, 33 p.

Terenzi, J., M. T. Jorgenson and C. Ely. 2014. Storm-surge flooding on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, Alaska. Arctic 67 (3): 360-374.