Alaska Science Forum

October 13, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
While Alaskans have long endured dense mosquitoes and frigid air, we’ve always had the absence of venomous snakes and dog ticks.   But the latter may be establishing themselves here. Ticks that infest red squirrels, snowshoe hares and a variety of birds have always been present in Alaska, but a team of biologists and veterinarians recently found five non-native ticks on Alaska dogs and...
October 13, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Alfred Brooks was a geologist who traveled thousands of miles in Alaska and left his name on the state’s northernmost mountain range. Twenty years before his death in 1924, he also left behind a summary of what Alaska was like more than one century ago, when “large areas (were) still practically unexplored.”   In his 1906 government report, “Geography and Geology of Alaska. A Summary of...
October 13, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
MOOSE CREEK DAM — For the thirteenth consecutive day, four plates of steel in a framework of concrete have quietly saved Fairbanks.   Heavy rains in the basin of the Chena River, the waterway that spawned Fairbanks, have swelled the river to where motorboats can’t squeeze beneath downtown bridges.   Dam-tenders here have responded by lowering steel gates into the river. The gates...
August 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Using the tiniest of clues, scientists have determined what probably killed the woolly mammoths of St. Paul Island — thirst. “It looks like climate did them in,” said Matthew Wooller, the UAF scientist who in 2013 went to St. Paul as part of a diverse team and brought back lake cores for analysis. “The smoking gun looks like access to freshwater resources was the coups de gras.” Wooller and other...
August 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
For all the descriptive Alaska place names out there — like the Grand Canyon, the Wall of China and the three Death Valleys — there are some that make you wonder. Elephant Point is just south of the Arctic Circle on a tundra peninsula north of Buckland. Village residents are at Elephant Point right now, living at their fish camps and catching salmon. Elephant Point was the site of a village where...
August 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
OUTSIDE THE UA MUSEUM OF THE NORTH — "Look, it's a crab spider eating a moth!" says Declan Griswold, an 8-year-old who points to a rose bush. "You're right, it's a true spider, an orb weaver, just like the kind in Charlotte's Web," says Derek Sikes, head of the entomology collection at the UA Museum of the North. He and his wife Melissa are leading a group of 18 elementary-school-age kids in the...
July 18, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
COS JACKET — On a canoe trip down the lower Tanana River, we've scrambled up a sandy bank to explore a place that is less populated now than it was a century ago. No one, in fact, lives at Cos Jacket anymore. There is a cabin-size cache with a tin roof. A few sagging log structures sit on a ledge overhanging the Tanana. One of the cabins has lost its door and front wall to the river. Its fallen...
July 7, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
ZITZIANA RIVER — Fishing at the spot where this long, squiggly stream mixes with a floury channel of the Tanana River, Alison Beamer feels a thump. Line squeals from her spinning reel as a creature as long as her arm flashes beneath the surface. After a few runs east and west, the fish tires, becoming still beneath the clear surface. Beamer's canoe-mate Jason Clark nets and dispatches the fish....
July 1, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
LOWER TANANA RIVER — On a day like this 121 years ago, a hungry U.S. Army explorer passed here at the mouth of Fish Creek, where clear water collides with the cloudy Tanana. Henry Allen did not stop to fish. He had food, and further exploration, on his mind as he and his party paddled by in a skin boat. We have stopped our canoes, squirted on insect repellant and cast lures hoping for pike or...
June 23, 2016
By
Ned
A person might think that since we get our maximum sunlight on the summer solstice (on or about June 21), we should also get our peak warmth then. The sun’s calling the shots, right? Not entirely, said former Alaskan Martha Shulski, author of "The Climate of Alaska" and now climatologist for the state of Nebraska. “Alaska is warmest a few weeks after the solstice,” she said. A lag exists between...