Alaska Science Forum

May 11, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
In the early going of my second hike across Alaska along the route of the Trans-Alaska pipeline, I chose to walk the highway rather than the pipe's route to get up Thompson Pass north of Valdez. The road added six miles to our day. But I tried the pipe route up the pass 20 years ago and it was like trying to climb a 90-meter ski jump. Most of my mileage so far on this trip has been on the...
May 8, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
PORT VALDEZ--We have launched on the pipeline hike version 2.0, 20 years after the first time. I'm now sitting on the muscled root of a Sitka spruce by the pleasant rush of a creek. A bald eagle shrieks from the top of a tree nearby while a diesel ship engine thrums from the Valdez Marine Terminal a few miles away. These rainforest woods, so different from my boreal forest home, have already...
April 27, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Twenty years ago, I was 34 when I walked away from a chain-link fence near Port Valdez and headed east. Those were the first steps on a summer-long trip across Alaska. In a few days, I will begin to retrace those steps. This summer, I will try to again walk from Valdez to Prudhoe Bay along the gravel path that parallels the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The first journey, with my chocolate Labrador...
April 20, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Skiing to work over a persistent spring snowpack, I looked up to see a large white bird flapping gracefully over the spruce tops. A few gentle honks confirmed it was a tundra swan. After a long winter when all the large birds were black, it was good to see one of the frontrunners of the billions now winging to Alaska. Tundra swans can live to be older than 20. Perhaps this bird, about 15 pounds...
April 13, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
More than 700 donors believe in an attempt to recreate the ice age in Siberia. The operators of Pleistocene Park have raised more than $100,000 in a crowdfunding effort to bring bison and yaks to eastern Russia. The creators think the animals will help convert tundra to ancient grasslands that will slow global warming.   An Alaska researcher has visited Pleistocene Park five times. He has...
April 7, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Nine years after it erupted, Kasatochi Island is just beginning to resemble its neighbors. Kasatochi is a speck in the middle of the Aleutian chain between Dutch Harbor and Adak, about 75 miles east of the latter. The volcanic island had no modern history of erupting until August 2008. In a few days that summer, the island changed from the lush green home of a quarter million seabirds to a gray...
March 30, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
On a sunny afternoon in Nome, Jeff Oatley stepped off his fat bike. That day, for the first time since before the Super Bowl, he had nowhere to ride tomorrow. On March 7, Oatley, with his wife Heather Best (who rode a few hundred miles of choice trail with him), finished a winter bicycle ride from Skagway to Nome. Despite snowstorms that stalled him on the middle Yukon River for a few days,...
March 29, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
Stan Boutin has climbed more than 5,000 spruce trees in the last 30 years. He's fallen only once, and he has often returned to the forest floor knowing if a ball of twigs and moss contained newborn red squirrel pups. Over the years, those squirrels have taught Boutin and his colleagues many things, including their apparent ability to predict the future. Boutin, of the University of Alberta in...
March 29, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
People who study animal behavior think they may have found out why wolves hunt in packs — because ravens are such good scavengers. Scientists who watched wolves on Isle Royale in Lake Superior came up with the raven-wolf pack theory after puzzling over a question: Why do wolves hunt in large groups when a single wolf can take down a moose? To find a possible answer, John Vucetich and Rolf...
March 9, 2017
By
Ned Rozell
With dogs' breath fogging the 30-below zero air at their knees, 71 Iditarod mushers steamed their way down the frozen Chena River in Fairbanks on March 6. Upstream, just a few miles behind them, 500 ducks were surviving in a one-mile stretch of open water. You might think the mallards that did not migrate from the subarctic in fall would be skinny and weak, but a UAF graduate student found the...