Alaska Science Forum

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October 16, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
On a clear day last spring, fire sizzled on water at Poker Flat Research Range in the Chatanika River valley. There, scientists were spilling crude oil in a manmade water basin and torching it from above. A series of similar test burns were part of a team effort between university scientists and researchers with the oil and gas industry. On that April day, an orange flame hissed on the surface of...
October 9, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
As piles of wet snow fell, an unexpected guest rapped at the window. My wife, Kristen, heard it bump into the glass. She was soon cupping in her hands a delicate bird she saw perched on the windowsill. "It's a golden-crowned kinglet!" she said. Kristen is a bird biologist, but I was surprised at her identification. Mighty little ruby-crowned kinglets belt out their big songs in our woods each...
October 2, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
While talking with two friends just inside a university entranceway, I saw a creature scampering in our direction just outside the glass doors. My first though was of a misdirected red squirrel running on the concrete. But this guy was longer, and bounded like a Slinky. A weasel! We went outside and staked out the area, waiting for it to emerge from a crack between metal trim and the concrete....
September 25, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
Dave Klein was 47 when he kicked into a scree slope in Atigun Canyon and saw something unusual in the rocks below. He reached down and picked up a three-inch wedge of bone or antler that had been worked into points on each end. One half of it had notched barbs. Klein was 88 when he was hiking near Atigun Canyon with students on a field trip through the Brooks Range in June 2015. As he scanned the...
September 18, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
These nights, Tom Seaton is dreaming less about red-brown, steaming, humpbacked hulks. He's also getting more sleep, knowing dozens of wood bison that galloped to freedom behind his snowmachine last spring are wandering new country, munching grass and having babies. So far so good in the attempt to stock Alaska with a giant that vanished from the swamps not long ago. "It's turning out better than...
September 11, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
With every autumn breath we take, Alaska brightens with yellows, reds and oranges of plants recovering what they can from tired solar panels. But one shrubby tree does not join the party. Alders remain a stubborn green. Many won't drop their leaves until long after the snow falls. This reluctance is one of the wonders of an overlooked organism, said ecologist Roger Ruess. A UAF professor, Ruess...
September 3, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
Instead of falling to the dozer blade, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program has new life. In mid-August, U.S. Air Force General Tom Masiello shook hands with UAF's Brian Rogers and Bob McCoy, transferring the powerful upper-atmosphere research facility from the military to the university. You may have heard of HAARP. Nick Begich wrote a book about it. Jesse Ventura tried to bully...
September 2, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
Many years ago, geologists stood on the bank of the Copper River and watched Childs Glacier thunder icebergs straight into the river. Using a little imagination, one researcher remarked how an advance of the glacier could seal off the big river. He envisioned a process that has happened many times in the world and is still happening in Alaska: glaciers growing to the point where they block rivers...
August 20, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
This is not Henry Allen's Tanana River. Nor is it the Trail River of people living here thousands of years before the nineteenth-century government explorer struggled his way down the Tanana. But it seems close. I'm on a family trip down the wide brown river, starting where it arcs from the mountains to Fairbanks. Wife, daughter, dog and I will float the river 150 miles to the town of Manley Hot...
August 6, 2015
By
Ned Rozell
One of the quietest places in Alaska was temporarily home to a few hardy people when the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. An archaeologist has fleshed out what life might have been like during a winter on St. Matthew Island in the 1600s. In some ways, St. Matthew, more than 200 miles from the nearest Alaska settlement (the village of Mekoryuk) is a great place to live: lush with plantlife (some...