faculty listing

A Photo of  Mark Johnson

Contact Information

Institute of Marine Science
111 O'Neill
P.O. Box 757220
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Fairbanks, AK 99775-7220
Phone: (907) 474-6933

Mark Johnson Full Professor

Physical Oceanography


  • Arctic Chair in Polar Marine Science, Naval Postgraduate School. Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research. 2001—2002
  • U.S. Dept. of Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement. Outer Continental Shelf Scientific Committee, 2009—present
  • Associated Faculty, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of Alaska Fairbanks. 2010—present


  • Decadal climate variability of the Arctic system
  • Trends and variability in Arctic sea-ice concentration and thickness
  • Analysis of model results and observed data to validate and improve model performance

Office Hours

MWF 11:30-12:30 and by appointment

Research Overview

My research focus is the physical oceanography of the Arctic Ocean through analysis of historical and model data. My current work is assessing of the ice volume of the Arctic Ocean, developing climate indices related to the seasonality of sea-ice freeze-up and break-up, and establishing measurements of sea-ice thickness over the Arctic Ocean.

Current Research Projects

  • Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison (National Science Foundation)
    AOMIP is an international effort to identify systematic errors in Arctic Ocean models and to reduce uncertainties in model results and climate predictions. My current focus is using sea-ice concentration and thickness data to evaluate model performance.
  • Seasonal Ice Zone Observing Network (National Science Foundation)
    SIZONet is an integrated observing system focusing on the western Arctic that is contributing substantially to broader pan-Arctic efforts involving researchers from different nations in the context of the International Polar Year (IPY) and beyond. We acquire data including sea ice thickness for use in this and many other research projects.


Proshutinsky, A., Y. Aksenov, J. Clement Kinney, R. Gerdes, E. Golubeva, D. Holland, G. Holloway, A. Jahn, M. Johnson, E. Popova, M. Steele, and E. Watanabe. 2011. Recent advances in Arctic ocean studies employing models from the Arctic Ocean Model Intercomparison Project. Oceanography 24(3):102–113.

Past Projects

  • Alaska Ocean Observing System. 2005-2010  (NOAA IOOS)

    AOOS was established in 2005 following our successful proposal to NOAA IOOS. Early funds focused on acquiring observations in Bering Strait, the Beaufort Sea, and the Gulf of Alaska and establishing a data management group at UAF. By 2010, the UAF data team had developed sophisticated web access tools for our stakeholders to acquire and visualize real-time data from Alaska’s oceans, see images from over 200 web cams across the state, obtain marine data from web portals with data from multiple federal and state research programs, and obtain data via a data query, display and ordering tool that met all IOOS interoperability requirements. After the successful development of the AOOS web site and data management products, we transitioned in August 2010 all data management capabilities to a private consulting firm to maintain.

  • Water and Ice Dynamics in Cook Inlet. 2005-2008 (UA Coastal Marine Institute)

    We investigated the water and ice dynamics in Cook Inlet using satellite tracked drifting buoys, winter time satellite imagery, and a high resolution numerical model. Model results were compared with data from buoys, ice motion, and hydrographic measurements. Our focus was to identify the temporal and spatial variability of the tide rips and validate the numerical model. The Final Report is available.

Selected Publications

Wu, B., and M. Johnson (2010), Distinct modes of winter Arctic sea ice motion and their associations with surface wind variability, Adv.Atmos.Sciences, v.27, n.2, p 211-299.

Wu, B., and M. Johnson (2009), Predominant modes of winder surface wind variability over the Gulf of Alaska, Int. J. Climatol. Doi: 10.1002/joc.1886

Calder, J.A., A. Proshutinsky, E. Carmack, I. Ashik, H. Loeng, J. Key, M. McCammon, H. Melling, D. Perovich, H. Eicken, M. Johnson, I. Rigor. 2009. Community White Paper: An Integrated international approach to Arctic Ocean Observations for Society (A legacy of the International Polar Year).

Druckenmiller, M., H. Eicken, M. Johnson, D. Pringle, and C. Williams (2009). Toward an integrated coastal sea-ice observatory: System components and a case study at Barrow, Alaska. Cold Regions Science and Technology, doi:10.1016/j.coldregions.2008.12.003

Johnson, M., S. Gaffigan, E. Hunke, and R. Gerdes (2007), A comparison of Arctic Ocean sea ice concentration among the coordinated AOMIP model experiments, J.Geophys. Res., 112, C04S11, doi:101029/2006JC003690.

Wu, B., M. Johnson. 2007. A seesaw structure in SLP anomalies between the Beaufort Sea and the Barents Sea. Geophys.Res.Lett. 34, L05811

Dukhovskoy, D., M. Johnson, and A. Proshutinsky. 2006. Arctic decadal variability from an idealized atmosphere-ice-ocean model. Part 1: Model description, calibration, and validation. J. Geophys. Res., Vol. 111, No. C6, C06028, 10.1029/2004JC002821.

Dukhovskoy, D., M. Johnson, and A. Proshutinsky (2006), Arctic decadal variability from an idealized atmosphere-ice-ocean model: 2. Simulation of decadal oscillations. J. Geophys. Res., 111, C06029, doi:10.1029/2004JC002820.

Moon, S., and M. Johnson. 2005. The relationship between the 00 C isotherm and atmospheric forcing in the Arctic Ocean. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L20608.

Johnson, M., and C. Stewart. 2005. Results from the Amchitka Oceanographic Survey, In: Amchitka Independent Science Assessment: Biological and Geophysical Aspects of Potential Radionuclide Exposure in the Amchitka Marine Environment, Editors: C.W. Powers, J. Burger, D. Kosson, M. Gochfeld, and D. Barnes.

Polyakov, I. A. Beszczynska, E. Carmack, I. Dmitrenko, E. Fahrbach, I. Frolov, R. Gerdes, E. Hansen, J. Holfort, V. Ivanov, M. Johnson, M. Karcher, F. Kauker, J. Morison, K. Orvik, U. Schauer, H. Simmons, O. Skagseth, V. Sokolov, M. Steele, L. Timokhov, D. Walsh, and J. Walsh. 2005. One more step toward a warmer Arctic. Geophys. Res. Lett., 32, L17605.

Dukhovskoy, D., M. Johnson, and A. Proshutinsky. 2004. Arctic decadal variability: An auto-oscillatory system of heat and fresh water exchange. Geophys. Res. Lett. 31, L03302

Polyakov, I., D. Walsh, I. Dmitrenko, R. Colony, J. Hutchings, L. Timokhov, M. Johnson and E. Carmack. 2003. A long term circulation and water mass monitoring program for the Arctic Ocean. EOS 84(30):284-285

Polyakov, I., G. V. Alekseev, R. V. Bekryaev, U. S. Bhatt, R. L. Colony, M. A. Johnson, V. P. Karklin, D. Walsh, A. V. Yulin. 2003. Long-term ice variability in arctic marginal seas. J. Climate, 16 (12): 2078-2085.

Polyakov, I., R. V. Bekryaev, G. V. Alekseev, U. S. Bhatt, R. L. Colony, M. A. Johnson, A. P. Makshtas, D. Walsh. 2003. Variability and trends of air temperature and pressure in the maritime Arctic, 1875-2000. J. Climate, 16 (12): 2067-2077.

Polyakov, I., G. Alekseev, R. Bekryaev, R. Colony, U. Bhatt, M. Johnson, V. Karklin, A Makshatas, D. Walsh, A Yulin. 2002. Observationally based assessment of polar amplification of global warming. Geophys. Res. Lett. 29(18): 1878.

Johnson, M.A. and I.V. Polyakov. 2001. The Laptev Sea as a source for recent Arctic Ocean salinity changes. Geophys. Res. Lett. 28(10): 2017-2020.

Proshutinsky, A., M. Johnson, and T. Proshutinsky. 2001. Understanding climatic controls on sea-ice transport pathways in the Arctic Ocean. Annals of Glaciology. 33: 551-554.

Proshutinsky, A., and M. Johnson. 2001. Two regimes of the Arctic's circulation from ocean models with ice and contaminants. Mar. Pollution.Bull. 43(1-6):61-70.

Mann, D., R.E. Reanier, D.M. Peteet, M.L. Kunz, and M.A. Johnson. 2001. Environmental changes and Arctic Paleoindians. Arctic Anthropology. 38(2): 119-138.

Proshutinsky, A., M. Steele, J. Zhang, G. Holloway, N. Steiner, S. Hakkinen, D. Holland, R. Gerdes, C. Koeberle, M. Karcher, M. Johnson, W. Maslowski, W. Walczowski, W. Hibler, and J. Wang. 2001. Multinational effort studies differences among Arctic Ocean models, EOS Transactions, 82(51), 637,643-644.

Polyakov, I.V. and M.A. Johnson. 2000. Arctic decadal and interdecadal variability. Geophys. Res. Lett. 27(24): 4097-4100.