Author Archives: drpetersen2

Blog 5: Hooper Bay

   Hooper Bay is a city in southwest Alaska. It is located on the coast of the Bering Sea and the north coast of a bay called Hooper Bay. The city is also in the Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge. The City of Hooper Bay is located in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta approximately 80 miles south of the mouth of the Yukon River.  

   The elevation of Hooper Bay is 43 feet above sea level. The land around Hooper Bay is tundra so there are no trees. There is a large, continuous layer of permafrost under Hooper Bay and the surrounding area.  

   Hooper Bay is vulnerable to several natural hazards including flooding, severe weather, earthquakes and wildfires. The coastal land around Hooper Bay is also eroding. Community leaders report that the climate is warming and this is causing the permafrost to melt and has resulted in increased flooding and erosion. Like Shishmaref, the people of Hooper Bay are discussing the possibility of moving the village to higher ground if a reliable water source can be found nearby.

   Hooper Bay has a Continental Subarctic Climate under the Köppen Climate Classification system. It has cold winters but not as cold as the interior. The record low temperature in Hooper Bay is -26.0 °F. Summers are cool as well. Only the months of June and July have an average high over 50 °F. On average, Hooper Bay gets 25.5 inches of rain and 68.2 inches of snow each year.  

   The City of Hooper Bay was incorporated in 1966. It is part of the Unorganized Borough, in the Kusilvak Census Area. The population of Hooper Bay is 1247 people. Hooper Bay is approximately 92% Alaska Native and 4% White. Hooper Bay was included in the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), and is recognized by the Federal Government as a Native village. The Yupik community name for Hooper Bay is Naparyaarmiut.  

   The economy of Hooper Bay revolves around public spending, commercial halibut fishing and subsistence activities. Coastal Villages Seafoods operates a halibut processing facility in Hooper Bay. However, despite the importance of commercial halibut fishing, relatively few of the residents of Hooper Bay work in the fishing industry.  

   Many people in Hooper Bay have public service jobs or work in the service industry. For most of the people of Hooper Bay, wage work is seasonal. Most people in Hooper Bay engage in subsistence activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering. Residents hunt walrus, beluga whales, and waterfowl and gather plants and berries. Subsistence fishing is also important in Hooper Bay. People subsistence fish for halibut and red salmon, pink salmon and chum salmon.  Some people also make grass baskets or ivory carvings to earn extra income.  

   Hooper Bay has high levels of poverty. In 2010, Hooper Bay had a per capita income of $8,635 and a median household income of $34,375. Hooper Bay ranks 219th out of 299 Alaskan communities in terms of household income.  

   Hooper Bay is not on the road system. It is only accessible by ship or by plane. The airport in Hooper Bay has a state-owned 3,300 foot long paved runway. Groceries are flown in year round. Residents of Hooper Bay primarily use ATVs and snow machines for transportation. Barges deliver shipments of fuel and supplies during the summer. Hooper Bay has one school for grades K-12.  

   Residents of Hooper Bay get their water from three wells that were drilled in 1997. Water is piped to the school, teacher housing, the clinic building, and a washateria. Besides teacher housing, none of the homes in Hooper Bay have indoor plumbing. People get water from the washateria and use buckets to haul waste to the local landfill. The community has a health clinic and in emergencies residents can be airlifted to the hospitals in Bethel and Nome.  

   The residents of Hooper Bay get electricity through a diesel generator that is operated by the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC). Hooper also has three wind turbines, built by AVEC in 2004. The wind turbines provide 24% of the electricity used in Hooper Bay. Buildings in Hooper Bay are heated with heating fuel, which is delivered by Crowther.  

   There are no major mining operations near Hooper Bay. Nothing that I found mentioned a tourism industry in Hooper Bay and I don’t really see potential for Hooper Bay to become a major tourist center. I have been to Nome, which is much larger and I would not consider Nome to be a major tourist center either.  

   In the future, if climate change continues to cause increased erosion around Hooper Bay then the community may need to be relocated to higher ground. It is likely that this will occur if the permafrost continues to melt and sea levels rise due to climate change. I would not be surprised if the city has been moved twenty or thirty years from now.  


Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development. 2020. “Hooper Bay, Alaska.’ Accessed April 10, 2020.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2011. “Fishing Communities of Alaska: Hooper Bay.’ Accessed April 10, 2020.


Petersen Blog 3

I have lived in Alaska for about seven years. During that time I have experienced more natural hazards here than I ever experienced in any of the other states that I have lived in. As I considered which place in Alaska is the most hazardous I looked back at history and considered which parts of Alaska have experienced the worst natural disasters in the past.

After considering all of the evidence I was forced to conclude that the most dangerous part of Alaska is the area of Southcentral Alaska from Anchorage to Valdez, including the northern part of the Kenai Peninsula and the coastline from the Kenai Peninsula to Anchorage and the coastline from the Kenai Peninsula to Valdez.

As the Alaska department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys noted on their website, “geologic processes only become hazards when humans get in their way; if there were no people affected, we would find these natural phenomena interesting, but not concerning.” Thus, what makes a geologic process dangerous is the presence or absence of humans. One of the reasons that I chose Southcentral Alaska from Anchorage to Valdez as the most dangerous place in Alaska is because that is where the most people live in Alaska.

One of the natural hazards that affects this area of Alaska is earthquakes. Southern Alaska is particularly vulnerable to earthquakes because it is just north of the Alaska-Aleutian Megathrust, which is a major fault to the south of Alaska.

The worst natural disaster in Alaska’s history was the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964. The epicenter of this magnitude 9.2 earthquake was about halfway between Anchorage and Valdez. The earthquake caused severe damage and casualties in both communities. Over 30 people died in Valdez as a result of the earthquake and the tsunami that it caused. Following the earthquake, the people of Valdez decided to move their town to a new location a few miles away.

Anchorage had another large earthquake in November 2018. I lived through that earthquake and it was really scary. The epicenter of this earthquake was ten miles north of Anchorage. A tsunami warning was issued after the earthquake but no tsunami ever materialized. The reason that large earthquakes are so significant is the potential loss of human life and damage to communities and property.

Another natural hazard that affects this area of Alaska is avalanches. In 2014, a huge avalanche in Keystone Canyon closed the only road into Valdez for awhile. Valdez is one of the snowiest cities in the United States and is prone to avalanches in the surrounding area. Avalanches happen from time to time along the Seward Highway south of Anchorage as well. Avalanches are significant because they could result in the loss of human life if people get buried by the avalanche. Also, avalanches can close roads and temporarily disrupt transportation of supplies to a community.

The area along the coast between Anchorage and Valdez are also vulnerable to flooding. Most places in Alaska are in danger of one or more natural hazards such as fires, volcanoes, etc. Fairbanks also experiences earthquakes. However, it has not suffered as severe of earthquakes as the area between Anchorage and Valdez has.

Sources cited

Alaska Department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys. 2020. “Geologic Hazards.” Accessed February 8, 2020.



Blog 2: Maps

I enjoyed looking at all the maps in the reading but I particularly found 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.5 to be interesting.

Figure 2.1 was interesting to me because I love old maps and I enjoyed reading about the story behind the map. True, the map is lacking by modern standards. However, it is a primary source from a historic event that occurred in 1899. The fact that the map is not very detailed on the interior of Alaska is part of what makes the map interesting from a historical perspective. When this map was created American academics still had much to learn about the interior of Alaska. It was created during the “Age of Exploration’ of Alaska. I consider the map of Figure 2.1 to be a work of art. It is beautifully illustrated.

Figure 2.2 was interesting as well. I found the explanation of explanatory theories in geography that accompanied the map to be interesting. I was a little bit surprised to see how few hospitals there are in Alaska compared to the number of communities in the state. I had never given it much thought before looking at the map but many communities in Alaska are relatively far removed from the closest hospital. I grew up near San Jose in California. I had never lived in a small town, let alone a rural area, before moving to Alaska but now I live in Chugiak, which feels rural to me. As I have traveled to small communities in Alaska (Nome, or on the Dalton Highway) I have been surprised that people choose to live in those places. From my perspective, even Anchorage seems isolated and remote from the rest of the country. I have spoken to people in the small communities that I have visited in Alaska and most of them seem to love living where they do. I personally cannot imagine living so far removed from the closest major hospital but many people in Alaska do and they are comfortable with it.

I enjoyed studying Figure 2.3 as well. I liked looking at the distribution of forests in Alaska. I don’t know much about different kinds of trees but I have always found the trees in Alaska to be interesting. Growing up in California we used to go and camp in the groves of giant redwood trees. That is kind of what I expected Alaska to look like the first time I came up. I was surprised that the trees in Alaska were relatively small compared to the giant redwoods and ponderosa pines that I had grown up with. I have been told that trees don’t grow as large up here because of the darkness and the permafrost. I live in the woods in Chugiak and it was interesting being able to find Chugiak on the map and seeing what kind of forest I live in. As you look at Figure 2.3 you notice that there are no forests at the top of the state. I suppose this is due to the cold and darkness in the winter. When I drove up the Dalton highway to Deadhorse it was pretty incredible to get to the point where there were no more trees.

I also enjoyed studying Figure 2.5 as well. I have driven across the United States. I have also driven from Anchorage to Deadhorse. It is always cool to look at maps that compare the relative size of Alaska and the lower 48 because it reminds me of those long road trips that I have taken. I teach geography and my students often ask me how big Alaska is compared to the lower 48. When these questions arise, we look at a map that is similar to Figure 2.5 in the atlas that my students use. Figure 2.5 really shows how vast the state of Alaska is.

Blog 1 Intro

Hey guys,

My name is Dallan and I live in Chugiak, AK. I am a social studies teacher. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in California but I have lived in Alaska for about 7 years total. My wife is from Eagle River, AK and we met while I was attending Brigham Young University in Provo. We moved to Eagle River after I finished my BA, left for graduate school and then moved back. We have lived in Eagle River or Chugiak the entire time but I have traveled around the state a bit. I have driven the haul road to Deadhorse and visited Nome, Fairbanks, the Kenai Peninsula and Valdez. I never imagined that I would live in Alaska. I actually really hate the cold but I have had a lot of amazing adventures here that I never would have experienced if I hadn’t moved here. I am excited to learn more about this beautiful state.