News Archive

August 10, 2018
The Alaska Volcano Observatory will upgrade its volcano monitoring network throughout Alaska due to a $12 million budget increase through the U.S. Geological Survey. The observatory, a joint program of the USGS, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, will replace aging equipment and increase staffing in an effort to...
August 9, 2018
The evidence is in: Snowshoe hares near Wiseman eat lots of dirt.   “I have thousands and thousands of photos of hares eating soil in this one little spot,” said Donna DiFolco, a biologist and cartographer with the National Park Service.    DiFolco has studied hares in the eastern portion of Gates of the Arctic National Park since 1997. That’s when she started counting hare...
August 2, 2018
YUKON RIVER — “She’s starting to wail,” Chris Florian says, referring to the worrisome shriek of a peregrine falcon across the river.   Florian, her biologist husband Skip Ambrose and I are sitting on warm gravel a few steps from the river on a sunny summer evening. We just ate dinner, and Ambrose is repeating an action he has performed for the past 46 summers — squinting through a...
July 26, 2018
It’s midsummer, a good time to slip a canoe onto the Yukon River.   I start at the river town of Eagle, population 85, and will finish in Circle, population 104. Circle is about 170 twisting miles downriver.    The Yukon is the longest and highest-volume river by far in Alaska. It is the third-longest in the U.S., after the Mississippi and the Missouri. At Eagle, the Yukon...
July 19, 2018
Floating down the Fortymile River, we heard the roar of a rapid just ahead. At the same time, we noticed the caribou, about 50 of them, clustered on a cliffside near the water.   It was too late to pull over. I aimed the canoe for the bumps of frothing brown water. As we plunged in, six antlered heads bobbed single-file in front of us. Caribou were swimming across the river at the pinch...
July 12, 2018
About 160 years ago, U.S. Secretary of State William Seward was taking some heat for his significant role in the purchase of Alaska. On the day the Russians received the $7.2 million check, a group of white travelers were at Nulato, getting ready for an upriver trip to Fort Yukon to explore this strange land. Among them was Frederick Whymper, an adventurous English artist who had signed on to...
July 4, 2018
Though Kilauea Volcano is more than 3,000 miles away, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are helping study the ongoing eruptions there. “When there is a big eruption crisis like this, the (U.S. Geological Survey) pulls their own people from all sorts of different volcano observatories,” geophysics professor Jeff Freymueller said. “A number of our colleagues from the USGS here in...
June 28, 2018
Just beneath the owl box, hung 20 feet up the stem of a balsam poplar, the backyard barbeque continued late into the evening. Despite the thwap of badminton birdies and the chirp of human voices, the boreal owl had work to do.   With a vole in its talons, the hand-sized bird perched on a branch outside a wooden box nailed to the tree. After a quick scan of the activity below, the owl bent...
June 25, 2018
Twenty-one middle school students built, learned how to operate and took home their own small unmanned aircraft at a camp taught by pilots and engineers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute the week of June 11-15. The camp, funded by the Federal Aviation Administration, uses unmanned aircraft to encourage kids to pursue science, technology, engineering and math-related...
June 21, 2018
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...