NGEE Arctic prepared a science activities report highlighting the results and conclusions of its recent snow campaign for the Kougarok Hillslope field site owned by Mary’s Igloo Native Corporation (MINC).
NGEE Arctic conducts its research on lands owned by native corporations whose stakeholders represent Indigenous communities with strong ties to the region. Upon renewing its land use permits, NGEE Arctic’s standard practice has been to provide annual updates to each of the four native corporations that provide access to their native lands. As an example, the NGEE Arctic project delivered a report on the results and relevant conclusions of its snow campaign to MINC and its board of directors in November 2022. The report emphasized the important role of snow in shaping the hydrology of the Arctic. Snow depth, distribution, and the timing of its melt control surface water availability, subsurface recharge, and runoff to nearby streams and rivers, which in turn affect waterfowl, fisheries, and animal migration. In addition to these general conclusions, the report notes that in April 2022, the NGEE Arctic research team observed multiple ice layers throughout the snowpack at the MINC-owned Kougarok study site. These discrete and difficult-to-penetrate layers formed because of frequent rain-on-snow events that occurred throughout the winter. Rain-on-snow events can affect not only snowpack properties but also infrastructure and the movement, foraging, and denning habits of many animal species. Given these effects of rain-on-snow events on local ecosystems and communities, and because wintertime precipitation is increasing in the Arctic, MINC was eager to learn more about these aspects of the NGEE Arctic project and how its investigations could inform native lives and livelihoods in a rapidly warming and changing climate.