Geoscience and Alaska

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What is Geoscience?

Geoscientists study the Earth’s systems—the complex geologic, marine, atmospheric, and hydrologic processes that sustain life and the economy. Geoscience expertise enables us to develop solutions to critical economic, environmental, health, and safety challenges.

By the numbers: Alaska

$3 billion: value of nonfuel mineral production in 20166

4,060: geoscience employees (non-federal/self-employed)1

17,100: jobs in extractive industry in 20152

17 severe storm, hurricane/tropical storm, and tornado disaster declarations since 19537

$34.5 million: NSF grants awarded in Alaska in 201617

$28.6 million: NSF GEO grants awarded in Alaska in 201617

Your State Source for Geoscience Information

Alaska Department of Natural Resources
Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys

3354 College Road
Fairbanks, AK 99709
(907) 451-5000

Workforce in Alaska

  • 4,060: geoscience employees (non-federal/self-employed) in 20151
  • $100,100: average median geoscience employee salary1
  • 17,100: jobs in extractive industries in 20152
  • 5: academic geoscience departments3

Water in Alaska

  • 622 million gallons/day: total groundwater withdrawal4
  • 472 million gallons/day: total surface water withdrawal4
  • 79 million gallons/day: public water supply withdrawal4
  • 2 million gallons/day: irrigation water withdrawal4
  • 8 million gallons/day: self-supplied industrial fresh water withdrawal4
  • 63% of the population is served by public water supplies4
  • 4 USGS stream gages in Alaska6

Energy and Minerals Production in Alaska

  • $3.1 billion: value of nonfuel mineral production in 20166
  • 176.2 million barrels: crude oil produced in 2015, #4 in the nation2
  • 3.2 trillion cubic feet: natural gas produced in 2015, #3 in the nation2
  • 1.5 million short tons: coal produced in 20142
  • 1.5 million megawatt hours: hydroelectricity produced in 20152

Natural Hazards in Alaska

FEMA statistics for Alaska

  • 17 severe storm disaster declarations since 19537
  • 13 flooding disaster declarations since 19537
  • 14 fire disaster declarations since 19537
  • 2 earthquake disaster declarations since 19537
  • $9 million: individual assistance grants since 20057
  • $40 million: mitigation grants since 20057
  • $123 million: preparedness grants since 20057
  • $146 million: public assistance grants since 20057
  • 6 weather and/or climate events, each with costs exceeding $1 billion (inflation adjusted) 1980-20168

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Geologic Mapping

  • $1.06 billion: total USGS budget; 1.6% up from FY 20159
  • The USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) funds geologic mapping projects by states (STATEMAP) and universities (EDMAP)
  • $4.2 million: Alaska STATEMAP funding (1993-2016)10
  • 14,885 square miles in Alaska mapped through STATEMAP (1993-2016)10
  • University of Alaska - Fairbanks participated in EDMAP10

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

  • $5.6 billion: total NASA Science budget; 6.6% up from FY 201511
  • $1.9 billion: total NASA Earth Science budget; 7.7% up from FY 201512
  • GRACE satellites measure groundwater changes in all of Alaska13
  • SMAP satellite measures soil moisture in all of Alaska13
  • PACE satellite measures cloud coverage over all of Alaska13
  • GPM satellite measures precipitation over all of Alaska13

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • $5.8 billion: total NOAA budget; 5.9% up from FY 201515
  • GOES satellites provide state-of-the-art weather forecasting over Alaska15
  • DISCOVR satellite monitors radiation and air quality over Alaska15
  • 48 National Weather Service observing stations in Alaska16
  • 168 National Weather Service cooperative observer sites in Alaska16

National Science Foundation (NSF)

  • $7.46 billion: total NSF budget; 1.6% up from FY 201517
  • $1.28 billion: total NSF Geosciences Directorate (GEO) budget; 1.6% up from FY 201517
  • 106 NSF grants in Alaska totaling $34.5 million in 201617
  • 76 NSF GEO grants in Alaska totaling $28.6 million in 201617
  • $23 million: NSF GEO grants to University of Alaska Fairbanks Campus in 201617
  • $2.9 million: NSF GEO grants to University of Alaska Anchorage Campus in 201617

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

  • $8.14 billion: total EPA budget; 0% up from FY 201518
  • 6 active/proposed superfund sites19
  • $208.4 million: cumulative federal grants for Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) in Alaska (1997-2016)20
  • $8.3 million: annual value of federal DWSRF grants in Alaska in 201620

Major Federal Facilities in Alaska

  • USGS Alaska Volcano Observatory, Anchorage
  • USGS Alaska Science Center, Anchorage
  • NSF EarthScope, Fairbanks
  • NOAA OAR - Barrow Observatory, Barrow
  • NOAA Kasitsna Bay Laboratory, Homer
  • NOAA US Climate Reference Netowrk, Deadhorse & Denali
  • DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory, Fairbanks


1Data Derived from Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics (2015)
2U.S. DOI U.S. Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative
3American Geosciences Institute Directory of Geoscience Departments (2016)
4USGS Estimated Use of Water in the United States in 2010
5USGS WaterWatch Total Streamgage Stations (March 10, 2017)
6USGS Mineral Commodity Summaries 2017
7FEMA Summary of Disaster Declarations and Grants (2016)
8NOAA Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Mapping
9DOI Budget and Performance
10USGS National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program
11NASA Budget Documents, Strategic Plans and Performance Reports
12American Institute of Physics FY2016 Appropriations
13Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE); Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP); Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE); Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM);
14NOAA Total Budget
15Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) & Deep Space Climate Observatory (DISCOVR)
16NOAA in Your State
17NSF Budget Internet Information System
18EPA Budget and Spending
19EPA Search for Superfund Sites Where You Live (August 2017)
20EPA Drinking Water State Revolving Fund National Information Management System Reports

Date updated: 2017-08-07

Written and compiled by Jeremiah Bernau for AGI, April 2017

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