Experimental Arctic Prediction Initiative

Observed sea level pressure (top, March 2018) compared to EAPI forecasted conditions (bottom) both showing a strong high pressure center above Alaska that produced strong winds. This forecast was shared with the US Navy during the ICEX submarine exercise.
Sea ice photo: Falk Huettiman

Collaborate with us

Our forecasts can address the needs of

  • Alaska Department of Transportation
  • Alaska Fire Service
  • Maritime and natural resource industries
  • NOAA
  • Sea ice community
  • United States Navy
  • ... and others. Please get in touch to learn more!

Please contact us if you are interested in collaborating on a diverse suite of forecasting approaches to facilitate bringing the best science to applications. Expertise in decision-making under uncertainty is also of interest to our initiative.

  • Joe Little, EAPI Lead, UAF School of Management. An economist in a joint position with the UAF School of Management and IARC, Joe's research focuses on applied economics and improving our understanding of the changing Arctic.
  • Uma Bhatt, Professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, UAF Geophysical Institute
  • Hajo Eicken, Director, UAF International Arctic Research Center
  • John Walsh, Chief Scientist, UAF International Arctic Research Center

The Experimental Arctic Prediction Initiative (EAPI) at the University of Alaska Fairbanks provides state of the art sub-seasonal to multi-year forecasts for Alaska and the Arctic. We work with agencies, the private sector, and other stakeholders to ensure that forecasts are user friendly and meet pressing needs.

Sea ice forecasts

The Arctic is changing, highlighting the need for reliable forecasts of sea ice conditions for time frames ranging from the next two days to six months. EAPI participates in the Sea Ice Prediction Network, which links scientists and stakeholders to provide user-driven forecasts.

A new analog forecasting technique allows for even greater decision-making power. Forecasts compare the evolution of current atmospheric and sea ice conditions to past years where users may have personal experience to draw from.

Transportation support

As the Arctic changes, the transportation industry is faced with unique challenges. Accurate weather and climate projects are needed to guide future decision making. EAPI is working to meet this need through long term projections of extreme precipitation events which will inform design of transportation infrastructure such as culverts and bridges.

As rain-on-snow events increase in the Arctic, EAPI’s high-resolution projections of icing events improve the ability to detect and prepare for dangerous winter transportation conditions.

Fire weather outlooks

Wildfire is a natural part of Alaska’s boreal ecosystem, but fires are growing bigger and the fire season is getting longer. Fire managers need tailored seasonal weather forecasts to prepare for upcoming fire seasons. EAPI meets this need through co-produced seasonal fire weather outlooks. Managers identify the types of products needed and evaluate their effectiveness to guide future improvements.

New prediction products are needed

In a rapidly changing Arctic, environmental prediction at seasonal to multiannual timescales is increasingly needed. However, it is challenging to forecast over seasonal and longer timescales, or processes that cut across different components of the environment (e.g., related to wildfires, Arctic operations, coastal hazards, threats to infrastructure).

Few institutions—IARC foremost among them—have the disciplinary breadth, ties to Arctic operators, communities and decision-makers, together with the scientific and technical know-how to address this pressing problem. EAPI leverages these strengths and builds capacity to address key challenges and problem areas requiring predictive skill on seasonal to multiannual timescales.

EAPI harnesses the power of past experience

As a pilot project, EAPI has supported ICEX, a five-week biennial submarine exercise conducted by the US Navy. ICEX allows the Navy to assess operational readiness, increase experience in and understanding of the Arctic.

During the 2018 exercise, EAPI developed a new analog forecasting technique to increase decision-making power. The tool identifies a historic case (analog) where atmospheric and sea ice conditions were similar to the current state. The user can track the evolution of conditions during the analog period and base decisions off their personal experience in that year.

The tool has broad application including marine shipping, tourism, oil and gas. Alaska fire managers currently use the tool to compare past fire seasons to the upcoming summer.

Expected outcomes of EAPI

  • Support for Alaska and Arctic planners and decision-makers through a suite of environmental prediction products
  • Prediction products tailored to reduce risk associated with extreme weather and other environmental hazards
  • Tools and information products that foster economic growth and diversification in a rapidly changing Arctic
  • A cohort of community-based cooperative observers to help validate and improve NOAA and NWS forecast products

How EAPI helps

Positive impacts on Alaska and the nation include reduced risk to communities and regions from extreme weather and environmental hazards, as well as economic opportunities created by predicting environmental processes at seasonal to multiannual timescales.

The Experimental Arctic Prediction Initiative is a prototype effort in development at the International Arctic Research Center, University of Alaska Fairbanks.


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