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SILT is Happening!

13 October 2022

Researchers from University of North Carolina, Oregon State University, and Fresh Eyes on Ice (UAF) met up last week on the silty banks of the Tanana River to begin a new project titled, Sediment fluxes in boreal rivers: determining relative seasonal loads and expanding long-term monitoring capability. This NSF-funded study is testing out new methods to monitor, model, and understand how much sediment comes down northern rivers throughout the entire year including freeze-up, winter, and break-up.

While navigating the currents of the Tanana to install turbidity sensors and collect water quality and hydraulics data, the team came up with a cool project name, SILT (Sediment and Ice Learning on the Tanana River) and project PI Emily Eidam (OSU) even crafted a catchy logo.

An important part of the project will be getting help from riverside students in Nenana and Fairbanks to watch after sensors, collect data, and assist with special studies of how their river moves mountains down to the sea (i.e., sediment transport).

This research will expand the goals of Fresh Eyes on Ice and Community Eyes on River Ice to begin looking at riverine habitat and water quality, while still partnering with K-12 community-based monitoring teams and citizen scientists.

Scientists got lucky with a perfect late Fall weather window to install three new turbidity sensors to test out overwintering performance once ice begins to form. Our plan is to meet again in January and work with students in Fairbanks and Nenana to install even more experimental sensor moorings to see what’s happening just under the ice in these dark and perhaps silty waters. Stay tuned for results!

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