Now Archived! PolarConnect event with teacher Rebecca Harris and researcher Ellie Broadman live from Kaktovik, Alaska on 24 August 2017. You can access this and other events on the PolarConnect Archives site.

What Are They Doing?

Photo by Dan Frost
Lake Linné, Svalbard is the site of a previous year's research. Photo by Dan Frost.
This project seeks to better understand the natural variability of hydrology and sediment transport in Arctic glacial lake systems, and to investigate how this variability might be impacted by climate change in the future. Studies such as this one, which captures natural variability across the Arctic at different temporal scales, are necessary to enhance our comprehension of how climate change has impacted and will continue to impact these systems.

In order to improve our paleoclimate reconstructions of these processes, a crucial step is the development of a system model that describes the hydrology, sediment-flux, and sedimentation in glacial lake systems. A main goal of this project is to establish such a model, and to apply it to three glaciated watersheds that span a gradient from the sub-Arctic to high Arctic. The three lakes included in the study are Eklutna Lake (a sub-arctic lake near Anchorage, Alaska), Lake Peters (in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska), and Lake Linné (Svalbard, in the high Arctic). From 2015-2017, field seasons have focused on Lake Peters, where weather stations, sediment traps, ablation stakes, and various other climate monitoring has continued for a total of three years, and sediment cores have been collected to reconstruct paleoenvironmental changes.

Where Are They?

Photo by Melissa Barker
An aerial view of the Brooks Range. Photo by Melissa Barker.
The G. William Holmes Research Station at Lake Peters (65 km south of the Arctic Ocean in the northeastern Brooks Range), is located in true wilderness. There are no man-made trails, and terrain is rugged and often steep. Brown bears, wolves, and wolverines are among the many types of animals in the area. Team members will be working long hours on a small boat on the lake, as well as hiking up 1000 vertical feet elevation to the nearby Chamberlain Glacier.

Latest Journals

The sun rises over Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument as Rebecca drives to work. My transition home was abrupt. Only 12 hours after arriving home, still sleep deprived and disoriented, I returned to my normal school routine. I admit that at moments, I didn't feel ready for the end of my…
Ellie and I made our last day in Alaska count. We met Janet, the wonderful PolarTREC PI, for quick coffee break - a nice change from all of our video conferences! Afterward, we spent the rest of the day on a fieldwork road trip south of Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula to collect samples for Ellie'…
Do you know where you water comes from? Ellie and I now know where our drinking water in Anchorage comes from! At the encouragement of Arctic Glacial Lakes collaborators, we visited Eklutna Water Treatment Facility, the provider of most of Anchorage's tap water. The facility is below Eklutna Lake,…
We made it out! After two days of waiting, one false drive to the airstrip, countless calls to our airline, making new friends, and juggling hotel and car reservations, we finally departed. The view out the window of the plane reminded us of how lucky we were. The entire North Slope was blanketed…
G. William Holmes Research Station at Lake Peters, Alaska
Project Funded Title
Developing a system model of Arctic glacial-lacustrine sedimentation for investigating past and future climate change
Rebecca Harris - Teacher
Escalante High School

Rebecca grew up in the outdoors, spending much of her childhood hiking, camping, and identifying birds and plants with her family. This exploration developed into an academic love for science, which led her to pursue a degree in Ecology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Rebecca went on to earn her Masters studying plant community ecology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. While in graduate school, she was a NSF GK-12 Fellow and discovered that while she loved research, she was passionate about teaching and communicating science. Rebecca now teaches at a tiny school in rural Utah, where she learns from her students every day while teaching everything from 7th grade math to Biology. She teaches a field course for college students, is a volunteer EMT, and loves to explore the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Ellie Broadman - Researcher
Northern Arizona University

Ellie is a graduate student at Northern Arizona University studying Paleoenvironmental Science in the Environmental Science and Policy program. Originally from Boston, she has happily spent most of her adult life studying earth and environmental science in California and Arizona, though her graduate research now brings her to Alaska to investigate Holocene climate variability. Ellie received her B.A. in Geography from UC Berkeley, where her interests in paleoecology and paleoclimatology were first sparked. Before attending graduate school, she worked as a Physical Science Technician for the Quaternary Paleoenvironmental Research Lab at the USGS in Menlo Park, California.

Arctic Glacial Lakes Resources


This lesson was created by Rebecca Harris after being a part of the Arctic Glacial Lakes PolarTREC Expedition. She was inspired by how important suspended sediment, something so often overlooked by non scientists, was for developing paleoclimate models as well as ecosystems. Students will observe a watershed or a model of a watershed to make predictions about what might

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This lesson plan was created by after being a part of the Arctic Glacial Lakes PolarTREC Expedition. I was inspired by the massive amount of data collected over the course of the research project and the complexity of hydrology in glaciated and non-glaciated basins in the Brooks Range of Alaska. Students will work together to make hypotheses about patterns

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The Expedition

In August 2017, I spent two weeks at Lake Peters, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. My team included Darrell Kaufman, project co-PI and Professor in the School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability, Ellie Broadman, graduate student and PolarTREC researcher, and graduate student Chris Benson, all of Northern Arizona University. Our research was part of the final

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Teacher Rebecca Harris and Researcher Ellie Broadman discuss field work, weather and life at the remote field site near Lake Peters, Alaska as part of the Arctic Glacial Lakes Expedition. This live event was broadcast from Kaktovik, Alaska.

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Article in NAU News about upcoming research expeditions with Northern Arizona University scientists and PolarTREC teachers