Alaska Science Forum

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February 10, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
How big is the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting held in San Francisco every December? So big it’s like everyone from Barrow attending on Monday. The residents of Soldotna get Tuesday, Valdez Wednesday, Nome Thursday and Kotzebue Friday.More than 21,000 scientists walk through the Moscone Center during the week, along with others, like me, who are curious about what they are presenting....
February 10, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
Back from the bottom of the world — where she had just experienced her second winter solstice in six months — Kristin O’Brien parked her shopping cart at the fish counter of a Fairbanks grocery.The biologist who studies “icefish” in the ocean surrounding Antarctica saw behind the glass a chunky filet of Chilean sea bass. She asked the man at the display if he realized why the store should not be...
February 10, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
On March 27, 1964, California geologist George Plafker was attending a research conference in Seattle when news came of a big earthquake in Alaska. “It was almost quitting time for the day at the meeting when some guys came back from the Space Needle and said they felt rocking,” Plafker said recently at his office in Menlo Park, California. “We said, ‘That’s a serious earthquake.’”It was, of...
February 10, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
When people first walked across the Bering Land Bridge thousands of years ago, dogs were by their sides, according to researchers who wrote a paper published in the journal Science.  Scientists from Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles used dog DNA material — some of it unearthed by miners in interior Alaska — to conclude that today’s domestic dog originated in Asia and accompanied the first...
January 14, 2014
By
Ned Rozell
Clues from a crater-like sinkhole on the island of Kauai point back to a giant wave that came from Alaska at about the time European explorers were pushing west, seeing the Mississippi River for the first time.The Makauwahi Sinkhole on the southeast shore of Kauai holds the mysterious equivalent of about nine shipping containers full of rocks, corals and shells from the Pacific Ocean. For the...
December 19, 2013
By
Ned Rozell
As Gary Carver stepped through the grasses of a treeless Alaska island with an archaeologist friend, he spotted a bleached driftwood log. The log rested on sand about a half mile from the beach and 50 feet above sea level.Carver, on the island searching out Aleutian mummies for a Discovery Channel program, is an expert on tsunamis. He suspected that only a giant wave could have delivered a 30-...
December 13, 2013
By
Ned Rozell
SAN FRANCISCO — Last July, while we Alaskans enjoyed another warm day, the surface temperature dropped to minus 135.3 degrees Fahrenheit in an icy trough on a south-facing ridge in western Antarctica.  According to the man who noticed the temperature, Ted Scambos at the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colo., that and another day during Antarctica’s polar night are the coldest...
December 6, 2013
By
Ned Rozell
NIKISKI — In a chilly building across Cook Inlet from the white pyramid of Mount Redoubt rest a few dozen plastic-lined cardboard totes filled to the brim with an amber liquid. Each chest-high cube holds about a ton of fish oil extracted this summer from the heads of salmon. It’s a product that would have been lost to the Kenai River if Pat Simpson had not recovered it.Simpson, 49, is a fisherman...
November 27, 2013
By
Ned Rozell
When Craig Ely thumbed through his collection of photos of Alaska Native kids and biologists gathered in front of an old church, he knew he had to make a yearbook. Not for himself, though he would savor the memories, but for all the kids who had helped him do science since the 1980s.The U.S. Geological Survey biologist has executed on that project, working with talented colleagues to create a...
November 22, 2013
By
Net Rozell
Laura Prugh knew she shouldn’t bother trying to trap kangaroo rats in the California desert on nights when the moon was shining. Professors had told her that small mammals make themselves scarce under the light of the moon, lest they become a meal for a predator that spotted them.But Prugh had no choice. She had so many study plots at Carrizo Plain National Monument she needed to set out her...