Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
ANCHORAGE: Federal Partnerships Providing Real Time Streamflow Data
Alaska Region, October 17, 2011
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Photo of newly installed telemetry equipment at Koyukuk River stream gage.
Photo of newly installed telemetry equipment at Koyukuk River stream gage. - Photo Credit: Wayne Stanislowski/USFWS
Map showing location of Koyukuk River stream gage.
Map showing location of Koyukuk River stream gage. - Photo Credit: Water Resources Branch USFWS
Hydrograph for Koyukuk River near Bettles, AK.
Hydrograph for Koyukuk River near Bettles, AK. - Photo Credit: Water Resources Branch/USFWS

In March 2011, working in cooperation with the National Weather Service (NWS), the USFWS Water Resources Branch (WRB) established the first satellite telemetry equipped stream gage operated by the FWS in Alaska. The gage is located near Bettles, Alaska on the Koyukuk River, a major tributary of the Yukon River. The Koyukuk gage is one in a network of 8 continuous recording stream gages associated with the WRB hydrologic baseline project on the Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge. The project, which began in 2009, is a 6 year effort to quantify the high priority water resources of the Kanuti Refuge.

 With the installation of the telemetry equipment, the Koyukuk River gage operates as a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) Data Collection Platform (DCP) and is capable of transmitting water stage, discharge and temperature data hourly via GOES satellite. The raw, real time hydrologic data transmissions are acquired, deciphered, and made viewable to the public through the Hydrometeorlogical Automated Data System (HADS), which is operated by the NWS (see links below).

The Koyukuk River GOES DCP is the only continuous recording, real time stream gage on the Koyukuk River; and its importance to water resource managers is multidimensional. WRB hydrologists will use the real time data to monitor hydrologic conditions, identify equipment malfunctions and plan logistics for future site visits. The NWS’s Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center will use the real time hydrologic information for flood forecasting during spring break-up and large scale precipitation events in the region. Flood forecasts save lives and property; consequently, the communities located on the Koyukuk River will benefit from the improvements to the flood warning system. Remote access to data from the gage will also provide the region with information important for transportation, recreation, hunting and fishing.

In cooperation with NWS, the Koyukuk River gage is intended to become a long term study site providing valuable information in a region with a scarcity of hydrologic information. Installation of additional GOES DCP’s at select WRB sites will provide continued opportunities for partnerships with other agencies—supporting long term data collection efforts and meeting broad landscape conservation objectives.

The WRB is currently working with the NWS and the National Park Service to install a GOES DCP at the FWS stream gage on the Nabesna River in Tetlin NWR. Installation is tentatively planned for spring of 2012.

NWS Site name: The Koyukuk River below John River near Bettles 5WSW
NWS Location ID: KBJA2


Contact Info: Wayne Stanislowski, (907)786-3538, wayne_stanislowski@fws.gov
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