Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program 2013 Arctic Coastal Plain Lakes

In the summer of 2013, Alaska Monitoring and Assessment Program (AKMAP) participated in EPA's National Lakes Assessment. AKMAP and the University of Alaska Anchorage - Alaska Natural Heritage Program partnered to conduct a survey of arctic lakes located in the North Slope of Alaska. Partnering with different agencies allowed for the shared use of resources, which saved logistical costs and allowed for more sites to be surveyed. The main purpose of this project was to complete the second of a five year series of aquatic resource surveys within the Arctic Coastal Plain in the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska. Although this survey only assessed freshwater lakes, other surveys that have been or will be completed include wetlands, rivers/streams and coastal waters.

The sampling included:

  • Water - temperature, dissolved oxygen, pH, conductivity, Secchi depth, chlorophyll-a, dissolved organic carbon, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, chloride, total nitrate/nitrite-N, ammonia-N, total Kjedahl nitrogen, total phosphorus, and total suspended solids
  • Sediment - mercury, dating, and stable isotopes
  • Biological - physical habitat characterization, phytoplankton, zooplankton, diatoms, and macroinvertebrate identification

In choosing our sampling locations, we randomly selected 30 different lakes in the region that met certain size requirements. An additional 11 specifically chosen lakes were selected for the survey based on their distance to target wetlands sampled during the 2011 Arctic Wetland Survey. These target wetlands are areas determined to be environmentally impacted or have a higher susceptibility to environmental impacts. All of the lakes chosen in our survey would serve as a representative population to the thousands of lakes that inhabit the Arctic Coastal Plain. Through these samples, we can obtain a clearer picture of the general health of the ecosystem, detect chemical contaminants, and collect useful information on aquatic insects and larvae. This information will aid environmental managers to support the protection and restoration of freshwater lake environments and mitigate damage to these valuable ecosystems.