Alaska Science Forum

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October 18, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
The magnificent creature was fooled by vocal plumbing — similar to its own but much smaller — imitating the groan of a receptive female. The bull moose grunted twice, then strode through spruce trees at the far side of a river. Brushing branches away with its antlers, it emerged, expecting to see a cow moose.   I knelt and plugged my ears with my fingers. My friend raised his rifle and...
October 11, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Stone spear points from Serpentine Hot Springs on the Seward Peninsula hint that ancient people may have migrated northward between ice sheets from warmer parts of America, bringing their technology with them.   Heather Smith, an anthropologist at Eastern New Mexico University, wrote a recent paper based on spear-point fragments she and others found near Serpentine Hot Springs during the...
October 4, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
A friend and I just camped out at the Arctic Circle, about 200 miles north of where we live in Fairbanks.   A dashed line on the map went right through our campsite. That line, the Arctic Circle, traces the northern hairline of the globe, at about 66 degrees north latitude. That means that when sleeping on the circle we were much closer to the North Pole (at 90 degrees latitude and 1,600...
September 27, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
On a November morning long ago, Jeff and Annette Freymueller were feeling the effects of the 1 a.m. flight that had carried them home, to end-of-the-line Fairbanks. There was no rush to get up on that Saturday 16 years ago. They slept in.   As the sky brightened, over sips of coffee the Freymuellers pondered the last few days they had spent in Southern California, where they both grew up....
September 13, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
DENALI NATIONAL PARK — When I was 12 years old, I didn’t know permafrost was like frozen lasagna. I didn’t know what permafrost was. I grew up in a small town on the Hudson River in New York.   But here is my 12-year-old daughter and her classmates, gathered amid fragrant tundra plants. She is sitting on the T-end of a pointed steel rod, in order to help shove it in the ground. She stops...
September 5, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Leaving cloven hoofprints from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, more than 3,500 muskoxen live in Alaska. All of those shaggy, curly-horned beasts came from one group of muskoxen that survived a most remarkable journey in the 1930s.   In 1900, no muskoxen existed in Alaska. Though the stocky, weatherproof creatures have survived in the Arctic since the last...
August 30, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Maybe she has the right idea, the arctic ground squirrel. Sniffing the chilly air, looking up to see the first stars of the season, she has decided to check out. A few weeks shy of fall equinox, the squirrel is now bunkered up for winter, three feet beneath the tundra of the North Slope.   “There’s tons of food, there’s tons of light, so why are they hibernating?” said Cory Williams of the...
August 23, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Floating down the Fortymile River, we saw a cut in the green hills that hinted of a creek. My canoeing partner and neighbor, Ian Carlson, 13, wanted to see a ghost town. The map told us one should be dead ahead.   There, up a path of floury soil, was Franklin, Alaska. Like many Alaska ghost towns, it was a less-than-ideal place for kids and dogs: rusted nails, jagged edges and punky wood...
August 16, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Thanks to her six-year-old grandson, Janet Klein of Homer recently hosted a few interesting house guests.   Five experts on ancient creatures slept in Klein’s Homer house last month as they searched local cliffs for another chunk of a mammal that lived in Alaska millions of years ago. Her guests were Patrick Druckenmiller of the UA Museum of the North, Grant Zazula and Susan Hewitson of...
August 9, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
The evidence is in: Snowshoe hares near Wiseman eat lots of dirt.   “I have thousands and thousands of photos of hares eating soil in this one little spot,” said Donna DiFolco, a biologist and cartographer with the National Park Service.    DiFolco has studied hares in the eastern portion of Gates of the Arctic National Park since 1997. That’s when she started counting hare...