Alaska Science Forum

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June 21, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Just outside my window here at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, workers are drilling into the asphalt of a parking lot using a truck-mounted rig. They twist a hollow bit 25 feet into the ground and pull up hard, clear evidence of why the blacktop is sinking.   A few days ago, John Walsh gave a talk a few hundred steps from that parking lot. Walsh has spent 17 years in Fairbanks studying...
June 14, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Of the five species of salmon that swim Alaska waters, the pink is by far the most plentiful. Some scientists think the fish is an overabundant predator that outcompetes other salmon and some seabirds.   In the late 1990s, Japanese researchers noticed an intriguing pattern while studying in the Bering Sea just north of the Aleutians. During every odd-numbered year, populations of tiny...
June 7, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
All of a sudden, we are again the land of no night. Summer happens every year, but it is always a surprise. Maybe because winter is the normal state of middle Alaska, with a white ground surface possible from late September until late April.   Over the years, I have marked this frenetic, green time by slaving my body clock to the circling sun and trying to stay awake at least once for 24...
May 31, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
In Alan Weisman’s book, “The World Without Us,” the author ponders “a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.” In his thought experiment, Weisman travels around the world to explore that question, revealing that cockroaches and bedbugs would not fare well without our sloppiness and warmth, but Theodore Roosevelt’s granite face will stare down from Mount Rushmore for the next 7.2...
May 25, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
For the past century, official thermometers scattered around Alaska have shown a warming trend. Most of the trusted weather stations are in river valleys; Gulkana, at 1,300 feet, is the high point of Alaska’s 21 “first order” weather stations, some of which have been running for a century.   But what about the weather up high? A scientist recently found evidence for even greater warming...
May 17, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
A Fairbanks scientist recently made an intricate new map of Denali while crisscrossing its summit a few times in a single-engine airplane. His top-of-the-continent measurement was within a few feet of a GPS reading done a few years ago, using a system he calls fodar.   Matt Nolan is a former University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty member who is now in the business of precision mapping using...
May 10, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
When I left my sister’s house in Brooklyn yesterday afternoon, I was 4,200 miles from my home. That’s a long way, but I slept in my Fairbanks bed before the next sunrise. Enabling this incredible time travel are modern jet aircraft like the Boeing 737-700, which carried me and 125 others on the first leg of my journey, from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey to Seattle-Tacoma...
May 2, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
“Jeremy offers us only his incessant snoring to remind us that he is a man and not a god.” So wrote Seth Adams on an Instagram post showing Jeremy Vandermeer striding across a wind-whipped ridge near the frozen headwaters of the Ambler River. Adams is a writer and photographer in Fairbanks who accompanied Vandermeer for a good portion of a recent 500-plus mile ski traverse of Alaska. Vandermeer...
April 26, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
Millions of Alaska birds nest on rocky emerald islands seen by few people other than ship captains. One of the funkiest of these creatures is the crested auklet, which looks like a bassist in a punk band and smells like a tangerine. These hand-size birds have intrigued Hector Douglas for years. He just wrote a paper on how the smelliest crested auklets also have the largest crests — groups of...
April 12, 2018
By
Ned Rozell
KANUTI HOT SPRINGS — After a few hours of skiing through deep snow, Forest Wagner and I smelled a tuna sandwich. We knew we were closing in on warm pools of water.   From the frozen Kanuti River, we moved along an open stream up toward Kanuti Hot Springs, one of more than 100 hot springs in Alaska. Except for the extreme northwest portion of the state, hot springs exist from Attu in the...