News Archive

November 13, 2014
"Rectal Temperature of the Working Sled Dog." "Cleaning and Sterilization of Bunny Boots." "Comparative Sweat Rates of Eskimos and Caucasians Under Controlled Conditions." These are some of the studies completed by scientists who worked for the Arctic Aeromedical Laboratory from the late 1940s to the 1960s. Developed during the Cold War to "solve the severe...
November 6, 2014
It is a very remarkable fact that a region under a civilized government for more than a century should remain so completely unknown as the vast territory drained by the Copper, Tanana and Koyukuk Rivers. So wrote Henry Allen in a government report on his muscle-powered journey from the mouth of the Copper River to the mouth of the Yukon, from where he returned by steamship to the civilized 48....
October 30, 2014
Last week, I wrote about a thought experiment proposed by Fairbanks scientist Jim Beget. He suggests raining down crystals of a compound that captures carbon dioxide onto a frigid plateau in Antarctica. There, the greenhouse gas might remain locked for a few hundred thousand years. Beget will present his idea at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union this December in San Francisco....
October 23, 2014
Jim Beget spends much of his time digging for clues from long ago, like when a volcanic island might have collapsed into the sea, sending giant waves to distant shores. He will soon engage in debate on a contemporary question: before carbon dioxide makes the world unlivable, what can we do about it? In December, the UAF geologist/volcanologist will tack a poster in a San Francisco meeting hall...
October 16, 2014
It's mid-October, 118 miles from the Arctic Circle. Time for a walk to work. Since I last wrote about my three-mile commute through the raindrops of August, the 1,100 acres of boreal forest between my house and the university has undergone the most drastic change of the year. Ankle-deep snow covers the North Campus and most of Interior Alaska. Steps on the forest floor, which sinks like a...
October 9, 2014
A smoking mountain near the Yukon River not far from Eagle is, after further study, still a puzzle. People first noticed acrid smoke in September 2012. The mountain has been steaming ever since, even through the coldest days of winter. Scientists thought a likely cause for the smoldering mountaintop was an oily rock deposit that somehow caught fire. Linda Stromquist, a geologist for the National...
October 2, 2014
One foggy day on St. Paul Island, a woolly mammoth stepped onto a trapdoor of greenery. It plunged thirty feet to the floor of a cave. There was no exit. A few thousand years later, a scientist who descended by ladder found the mammoth's tooth amid the bones of other mammoths, polar bears, caribou, reindeer and arctic foxes. Radiocarbon dating showed the mammoth died about 6,500 years ago....
September 25, 2014
During our planet's most recent cold period, a slab of ice smothered Manhattan. Canada looked like Antarctica but with no protruding mountains. When the last glacial maximum peaked about 20,000 years ago, most of the continent — from the Arctic Ocean to the Missouri River — slept under a blanket of white. Alaska was different. Anchorage and the rest of Southcentral, Southeast, and the Alaska...
September 18, 2014
MINTO — Sarah Silas, 89, smiled as she remembered an earthquake that shook her village more than 60 years ago. The floor of her cabin swayed so that her young son staggered away from her. "My three-year old boy was laughing," she said inside her log cabin, its front door open to warm air on a golden day. "The ground was moving so much I couldn't even reach my little son....
September 11, 2014
Will Lentz, a reader from Fairbanks, asks a question that flares every fall: why do some aspens turn red? A few scientists from Fort Collins, Colorado, pondered that subject in the late 1970s. Curious about red aspen trees people had noticed for half a century, they studied why these existed amid those with the more common leaf color, yellow. Before getting to the scientists' results, a...