News Archive

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...
June 14, 2018
Of the five species of salmon that swim Alaska waters, the pink is by far the most plentiful. Some scientists think the fish is an overabundant predator that outcompetes other salmon and some seabirds.   In the late 1990s, Japanese researchers noticed an intriguing pattern while studying in the Bering Sea just north of the Aleutians. During every odd-numbered year, populations of tiny...
June 7, 2018
All of a sudden, we are again the land of no night. Summer happens every year, but it is always a surprise. Maybe because winter is the normal state of middle Alaska, with a white ground surface possible from late September until late April.   Over the years, I have marked this frenetic, green time by slaving my body clock to the circling sun and trying to stay awake at least once for 24...
June 5, 2018
Earth scientists consistently look for a reliable way to forecast earthquakes. New research from University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute professor Carl Tape may help in that endeavor, due to a unique set of circumstances. “Our observations have recorded an unequivocally interesting sequence of events,” Tape said. Tape and his colleagues found evidence for accelerating activity...
May 31, 2018
In Alan Weisman’s book, “The World Without Us,” the author ponders “a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.” In his thought experiment, Weisman travels around the world to explore that question, revealing that cockroaches and bedbugs would not fare well without our sloppiness and warmth, but Theodore Roosevelt’s granite face will stare down from Mount Rushmore for the next 7.2...
May 30, 2018
Life returned to the asteroid-blasted Chicxulub crater much sooner than at some other sites far from the impact point 66 million years ago, according to a University of Alaska Fairbanks scientist and fellow researchers. UAF Geophysical Institute professor Michael Whalen studied a core drilled about 4,500 feet below the crater, offshore of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Whalen and colleagues, led by...