The Geophysical Institute was created at the University of Alaska Fairbanks by an act of Congress in 1946 to study the earth and its physical environment at high latitudes. The institute works also to solve applied geophysical problems and develop resource-oriented technology important to the state and nation and to train students in related disciplines. It is one of the few institutes in the country where scientists study the whole spectrum of geophysical processes ranging from the center of the earth to the center of the sun and beyond. The institute has a long record of collaborative international relationships established well before the International Geophysical Year (1957-58).
Subjects studied by the faculty and research staff members and the graduate students at the institute include solar physics, auroral physics and chemistry, arctic haze, ice fog, atmospheric dynamics, ozone, Alaska weather patterns, regional meteorology and climatology, global climate change, cloud physics and radiation, permafrost, glaciers, sea ice, remote sensing, geothermal energy, tectonics, volcanoes and earthquakes.
Research facilities include the Poker Flat Research Range; the Poker Flat Science Operations Center; the Alaska Volcano Observatory; the Alaska Earthquake Information Center; Snow, Ice and Permafrost laboratories; the Alaska Climate Research Center; Atmospheric Sciences laboratories; the Alaska Synthetic Aperture Radar Facility; Satellite Image Analysis laboratories; the Geo-Data Center; the Map Office; the Geochronology Laboratory; and the Computer Resource Center. The institute also operates many field stations throughout Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Antarctica and elsewhere, such as a network of seismic event recorders and a geomagnetic meridian chain of optical and magnetic observatories.
The Keith B. Mather Library, a specialized 42,000-volume library within the Geophysical Institute, provides excellent reference materials and research services and support. The periodicals collection currently receives 375 titles. Also included in the library is an extensive arctic-climate and ionospheric and geomagnetic data collection. Recent additions make this one of the most extensive geologic collections in Alaska.
An engineering staff and a number of service centers provide technical support to the institute, including electronics and machine shops, as well as an information/publications office and photo-graphics and word processing centers.
The Geophysical Institute has affiliations with the U.S. Geological Survey and with NASA and NOAA, and it has international cooperative relationships with agencies, institutes and technology centers in Japan, Russia, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, China and Norway.