Alaska Science Forum

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March 4, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
For a town of its size (4,300 people), Barrow receives more visits by scientists than anyplace in America. The northernmost community in the U.S. has hosted researchers since Army Lieutenant P. Henry Ray built a polar observatory there in 1882. This different-than-anywhere-else place with fewer people than a one-stoplight town in Texas has attracted scientists from all over the globe. Why?...
February 26, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
In anticipation of an arctic science conference happening next month in Fairbanks, an editor asked me to write a column on climate change in the north. I told her climate stability would be the bigger story, since basswood trees used to grow in Fairbanks and redwoods once dropped their cones into the Porcupine River. Climate is always changing. But we have gotten much better at measuring those...
February 19, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
The upper Colville River is one of the quietest places on the planet, a land of cliffs and tundra and tangles of willow. Fashion Island is one of the most human-altered landscapes in America, where developers long ago replaced the native vegetation with a Cheesecake Factory and P.F. Chang's. A female peregrine falcon born in northern Alaska spent at least one of her winters on the 13th floor...
February 12, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Recent research on the ice worm has shone some light on the tiny creature that appears when the sun sets on warmish glaciers. Few people have seen ice worms, but they are not mythical. Wispy and less than one inch long, ice worms live on glaciers, wriggling to the surface at night and sometimes lingering in meltwater pools during the day. They seem to be dormant during the winter. No one knows...
February 5, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Stronger winds and thinner ice are forcing Alaska polar bears to work harder to remain in Alaska, according to scientists who have studied increased movements of both sea ice and bears. "There's an energetic cost to stay in Alaska," said David Douglas of the U.S. Geological Survey Science Center. He and others compared wanderings of polar bears from two periods and found the bears now need to...
January 29, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Millions of people live in dimples on the Earth's surface — often near the ocean, in lowlands between mountain peaks too rugged and cold. One of these global indentations, Cook Inlet Basin, recently showed another characteristic of the planet's basins — they quiver like a bowl of jelly during an earthquake. Many people in Anchorage got rattled during the recent 7.1 earthquake on January 24. Carl...
January 21, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
The ice floating on top of the world covers pretty much the entire Arctic Ocean in midwinter. By late summer it shrinks to half that much. If trends continue, by mid-century the summer ice may take up less space than Japan. As the Arctic Ocean becomes more blue, it absorbs much of the sun's heat that it once reflected with great efficiency. This warmer ocean would quicken the melt of the...
January 13, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
ST. MATTHEW ISLAND —I’m resting on a mattress of tundra plants that are growing more than 200 miles from the nearest Alaska village. While I have snuck away here to my own private ridgetop, eight other people, all scientists, are somewhere on this 30-mile-long wedge of tundra, rocky beaches, lakes and bird cliffs in the central Bering Sea. We nine make up the entire human population of the island...
January 13, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
A headline in the print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle catches the eye of a visiting Alaskan: Wolves feed on calf. In a Dec. 20, 2015 story, Chronicle reporter John King reported that wolves were likely responsible for killing and eating a young beef cow from a rancher's herd in northern California. It is the first reported wolf kill on California livestock since the 1920s. That was the...
December 18, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps give you a choice on the height of Mount Isto. Depending on what map scale you choose, the mountain in the Brooks Range is either higher or lower than 9,000 feet. Using a new combination of techniques, an Alaska researcher has crowned Mt. Isto the highest peak in America's arctic, unseating longtime presumed champion Mt. Chamberlain, listed at 9,020 feet....