Alaska Science Forum

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April 11, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
TOOLIK FIELD STATION -- Despite a wind that makes today’s minus 14 degrees Fahrenheit feel like minus 39, a worker at this research camp in blue-white hills north of the Brooks Range has proclaimed this the first day of summer.Today, the population of Toolik Field Station increases from nine -- five people running the camp, three scientists and me -- to 16. Seven support staff members are making...
April 11, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
Cold water the color of iced tea wets the boots of Chris Arp as he yanks a power auger from the hole he just drilled in this quiet lake, a few miles from his office at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.A whiff of sulfur, a sign there’s not much oxygen in this pond born when ancient frozen ground thawed wafts upward as Ben Gaglioti clears slush from the hole with a shovel. Gaglioti, a graduate...
March 28, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
POKER CREEK — On this south-facing hillside bathed in spring sunshine, trees are swelling like hot dogs.“They’re all a little thicker than they were last week,” Jessie Young says of the birch, aspen and occasional spruce in this pleasant open forest about 30 miles north of Fairbanks.Despite the penetrating warmth of the sun at spring equinox, the woods here in the Caribou-Poker Creeks Research...
March 20, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
As I skied on a frozen river, a hairy creature trotted toward me. When the wolverine spotted me, it popped up in the air like an antelope, landed like a cat, and bounced away into the high country of the Wrangell Mountains.Nicknamed the devil bear, woods devil or carcajou, the wolverine has a Latin name, Gulo gulo, that means “glutton.” The Koyukon Indians have a better name, “doyon,” from the...
March 14, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
Seventy million years ago, the baddest predator on top of the world was a pygmy tyrannosaur about half the size of Tyrannosaurus rex. The creature became known to the world in mid-March 2014, when Texas-based dinosaur hunters Tony Fiorillo and Ron Tykoski unveiled it in a scientific journal.Nanuqsaurus hoglundi was named for the polar bears that walk the sea ice not far from where its bones...
March 7, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
The wolf lies on a metal table, its white legs and massive paws hanging over the edge. Kimberlee Beckmen, wildlife veterinarian, wears a white lab coat and purple gloves. Scalpel in hand, she positions herself at the wolf’s belly.Beckmen, who just finished a necropsy on an arctic fox that had been hit by a truck on the Dalton Highway, leans in on a wolf found dead on a trail east of Fairbanks....
February 28, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
The wolf is no longer stuck to the trail, as it was when the dog musher drove her reluctant team over it. Now covered with snow, the frozen animal is a few steps away, beneath small spruce trees near the South Fork of the Chena River. The only exposed part of its body — a bushy tail — points to the sky. Since the musher discovered the dead wolf a few days ago, someone moved the carcass — maybe...
February 28, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
It’s mid-February, 118 miles from the Arctic Circle. Time for a walk to work.The trail through the boreal forest is right outside my door. The North Campus of the University of Alaska Fairbanks is 1,100 acres of spruce trees, ski trails, two lakes, an exotic tree plantation and a few dozen subtle research projects. Some are humming, twirling, measuring. Others are stained by leaf litter, falling...
February 10, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
An expected event in Alaska could affect millions of Americans. Here’s how:On Thursday, March 27, 2014, a slab of the seafloor larger than human imagination fractures, rumbling beneath the Alaska Peninsula. In several planet-ringing minutes, thousands of years of potential energy releases to become kinetic. A great earthquake occurs right where scientists predicted it would.The Pacific floor...
February 10, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
Painting the breeze one dozen at a time, monarch butterflies once fluttered across the meadow of James Hansen’s Pennsylvania farm. Now, the climate activist and his wife are lucky to see one. Monarchs are threatened by lack of the only food — milkweed — they eat as caterpillars. Herbicides, land clearing and other people-related activities may be dooming the monarchs.“I wonder if we are...