Founded in 1948, the Geophysical Institute is a world-renowned center for the study of geophysics from the sun to the center of the Earth.
Proximity to the Arctic provides excellent opportunities for high-latitude geosciences. Major research programs are underway in space physics, atmospheric science, seismology, volcanology, satellite remote sensing, tectonics and sedimentation. The institute operates a rocket range for space research and a satellite ground station with processing and archiving capabilities for earth science support. In addition, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, the Alaska Earthquake Center, Alaska Climate Research Center and the Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration are located at the institute. More than 75,000 books, 350 journals and other specialized media are maintained at the Keith B. Mather Library.
GI faculty and students benefit from the coupled activities of education and research. Undergraduate and graduate students find work in research programs while gaining academic credit toward their degrees. Most GI faculty have joint appointments, providing teaching opportunities at the College of Natural Science and Mathematics or the College of Engineering and Mines.
The institute focuses on the needs of Alaska, using geophysical data as the basis for decision-making tools. Examples include monitoring earthquakes and volcanic eruptions leading to hazard alerts to federal and state agencies. Remote sensing specialists use satellite and airborne observations to help fight forest fires and monitor the health of Alaska’s ecosystems. Institute scientists run computer simulations of tsunamis, aiding coastal communities in developing emergency evacuation plans. The institute has programs reaching out to K-12 schools with scientific curricula to educate and motivate potential science students.
More than 500 permanent field sites are operated throughout Alaska and are associated with the Poker Flat Research Range, the Alaska Earthquake Center, the Alaska Volcano Observatory and the Permafrost Research Laboratory.