Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 10:00 AM


KARPILO, Ronald D., Geosciences, Colorado State University/National Park Service, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1482 and KARPILO, Lacy N., University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK 99508,

The primary objective of this project is to establish a photographic baseline for systematic monitoring and analysis of natural and cultural changes in the viewshed of Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska. The vast majority of visitors experience the park through the window of a Visitor Transportation Shuttle (VTS) bus on the Denali Park Road. The character and condition of the natural viewshed directly influences the quality of visitor experience. Visitor experience can be adversely impacted by changes in the viewshed caused by natural processes like encroaching vegetation blocking views or the visible presence of human disturbances such as infrastructure development and social trails made by hikers. The establishment of a visual baseline to document the current condition of the Denali Park Road viewshed is critical for detecting and understanding changes in the natural viewshed over time.

This project creates a baseline visual record of the present-day Denali Park Road viewshed by using a system of four vehicle-based cameras (facing to the front, rear, left, and right) to make an overlapping series of several hundred thousand high-resolution images capturing 360-degree views at bus window height along the 92.5-mile length of the park road. To compliment the road images, a series of repeatable high-resolution, panoramic photo monitoring stations were established along the Denali Park Road. The series of road images and the photo station images will serve as a baseline for detecting and monitoring future changes in the road and backcountry viewsheds.

In order to understand how park resources have changed during the past century, historic images and repeat photography techniques were used to document 20th century changes in the natural and cultural resources of Denali. This project records interdisciplinary changes in geologic and biologic features and processes; including: glacier dynamics, stream morphology, erosion, vegetation distribution, and human disturbances. In addition, the project documents how the Denali landscape and ecosystem is responding to climate change and identifies specific features or processes that may require more intensive monitoring and could stimulate the development of hypotheses for future research.