Alaska Science Forum

January 24, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
T. Neil Davis has died at 84, in his Fairbanks home.   The scientist/author/doer was a graduate student and later director at UAF's Geophysical Institute. In the dynamic early days of the place where people study everything from the center of the Earth to the center of the sun, Davis was there: flying over Lituya Bay to see hillsides scarred to 1,700 feet by the tallest splash wave ever...
January 24, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
SAN FRANCISCO — On rare winter mornings here, a skim of ice forms on sidewalk puddles. But water's solid form is mostly an abstraction in this land of blooming flowers and the hummingbirds that visit them. Except for the week of the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.   Dozens of the 22,000 scientists gathering here for the week are talking about ice, mostly about how much of...
January 24, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
A lynx that roamed more than 200 miles from Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territory to near Chitina is still being tracked across the Alaska landscape, thanks to a curious couple living off the Edgerton Highway.   Ralph and Linda Lohse first met the animal Canada researchers call Max on an October night.   "My wife saw a lynx out there, sitting next to the chicken coop like a lion,...
January 24, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Joanna Young does not seem to fear change very much. She first came to Fairbanks from Egypt, where her parents were teaching English and running a school. Raised in Toronto, she knew what cold was. But this was January 2010, a colder-than-average month. The temperature bottomed out at minus 41 F as she arrived.   "It was a good climate shock and a good culture shock," said Young, 32, who...
January 24, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
After Hurricane Ike in 2008 shoved six feet of water into downtown Galveston, Texas, people there had the attention of all America. But two days later, lawyers for Lehman Brothers filed the largest bankruptcy in America's history. The Federal Reserve bailed out insurance giant A.I.C. with an $85 billion payment, and Americans were paying attention to other things.   That was too bad for...
October 14, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
On a recent river trip down the Porcupine River, my friend Garrett Jones and I nosed into a few townsites we saw on the map. Old Camp, Canyon Village and Shuman House were all silent places with no people but the same unique regional touch: Decorative stamped-metal ceiling panels tacked up as outhouse walls.   During our 200-mile trip down the Porcupine's length in Alaska, we saw no...
October 14, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
YUKON FLATS — Out here, in a smooth plain stretching over Alaska’s wrinkled face, water and tree and mud dissolve to fuzz at each horizon. No hills or bumps. An ocean of sky. An observer once said Yukon Flats looks like a place where God forgot to put something.   Garrett Jones and I are camped on a giant island not far from the Yukon River map feature labeled "Halfway Whirlpool."...
October 14, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Sometimes, a great idea arrives ahead of its time. A person squints at a raw landscape, thinks about it in his bunk on a heaving ship, dreams of it. He scribbles a diagram. He remains quiet years later as others rediscover the same thing.   Such was the case of a rugged geologist who island-hopped in the Aleutians following World War II. Thinking about the age of rocks he found, the...
October 14, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Alaskans love fungi. This was evident one Saturday when author and mycologist Lawrence Millman offered a mushroom walk at Creamer’s Field on one of the wettest days of the yellow-leaf season.   “Eighty people showed up in the rain, all eager to learn about fungi,” Millman said by email after returning to his home in Massachusetts. “I dare say the hunter-gatherer instinct is alive and well...
October 14, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
CANWELL GLACIER — This summer, Sam Herreid has slept for 12 nights on these rocks that ride slowly downhill on a mass of ice. For a few days at a time during the last six summers, the 28-year-old has lived on this ephemeral landscape in the eastern Alaska Range. From his regal perch, he is learning how rock cover affects glacier melt.   Sometimes, the Ph.D graduate student at Northumbria...