2 May 2023
Fresh Eyes on Ice is calling for Alaskans to send in pictures of river ice to help predict flooding.
“Because of the cold temperatures this spring, more than ever, citizen observations are valuable. The conditions are going to change quickly, and your observations can help,” said Katie Spellman, a research assistant professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. “This next week and the week after are going to be important. Really, anywhere on the Tanana River is good; anywhere is awesome.”
All submitted photos go directly to the National Weather Service Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center, which is in charge of issuing flood warnings. Real-time photos help scientists make more accurate forecasts. The pictures will also be archived for further ice and snow research.
“We’re really trying to get people to submit observations – like, right now is great – before river ice really starts to degrade and melt. Even getting photographs once ice has already cleared from rivers is really good to know,” said Chris Arp, a founding hydrologist of the project at UAF. “So right now all the way through break-up season, which probably will last all the way through May.”
In the past, the Fresh Eyes on Ice program has helped predict floods in Galena, Manley, Eagle and other communities in Northwest Alaska.
“As scientists, we can’t be everywhere at once, so one of the things we’ve been doing is working with schools to help improve collection of those data sets. We then are also providing them with an opportunity to basically work as scientists themselves and get outside,” Arp said.
Fresh Eyes on Ice works with 16 schools across the state in researching ice and snow. “We’re reaching out to basically anybody who wants to take photographs,” Arp said. “A lot of those people are people who live in river villages, or who fly, or who are travelling by snowmachine. Those people can really help.”
Pictures can be submitted through the Fresh Eyes on Ice website fresheyesonice.org, the GLOBE Observer app Landcover tool, or through Facebook on the Fresh Eyes on Ice Facebook Group. To learn more, visit fresheyesonice.org.