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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Science (M.S.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



High latitude mountain environments are experiencing disproportionately adverse effects in a currently changing climate. The Gulf of Alaska (GoA) region is an exemplar of this. Dramatic shifts are occurring in the region’s freshwater reservoirs as glaciers retreat more with each passing year. Research in the region places much focus on observing and predicting climate driven shifts in glacier mass balance, surface discharge, and associated nutrient fluxes to the ocean. On the other hand, coastal groundwater discharge (CGD) is given very little attention. Global and near-global estimates of CGD indicate variable results spanning an order of magnitude. Focusing on regionally specific processes may provide more reliable estimates of CGD and allow isolation of CGD hotspots. This is of particular importance in the GoA region where complex topography, geology, and climate are coupled with recharge derived from rain, snow, and ice. I estimate CGD to the GoA with a water balance that integrates high temporal and spatial resolution recharge inputs and distinguishes between high conductivity surficial deposit and bedrock catchments. I find that CGD contributes nearly 3% of the total freshwater flux to the GoA, equivalent to a mean annual flux of 20.8 km3, and that CGD has been increasing by 0.5%/year over the past 4 decades. Although freshwater discharge to the GOA is well-constrained, the importance of fresh CGD to the GoA has, thus far, been overlooked.


First Advisor

David F. Boutt

Second Advisor

Matthew Winnick

Third Advisor

Lee Ann Munk

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 License.