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5 May 2017

First steps from Valdez, in the snow

My wife Kristen looked at the Valdez forecast on her phone as we drove to our take-off point. “It says wintery mix of snow and rain the next few days,” she said. “No one likes a wintery mix.”

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28 April 2017

Revisiting a dream, 20 years later

Twenty years ago, I was 34 when I walked away from a chain-link fence near Port Valdez and headed east. Those were the first steps on a summer-long trip across Alaska. In a few days, I will begin to retrace those steps.

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14 April 2017

Pleistocene Park an experiment in adventure

More than 700 donors believe in an attempt to recreate the ice age in Siberia. The operators of Pleistocene Park have raised more than $100,000 in a crowdfunding effort to bring bison and yaks to eastern Russia. The creators think the animals will help convert tundra to ancient grasslands that will slow global warming.

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7 April 2017

Life returning to island destroyed by eruption

Nine years after it erupted, Kasatochi Island is just beginning to resemble its neighbors.

Kasatochi is a speck in the middle of the Aleutian chain between Dutch Harbor and Adak, about 75 miles east of the latter. The volcanic island had no modern history of erupting until August 2008. In a few days that summer, the island changed from the lush green home of a quarter million seabirds to a gray pile of ash.

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31 March 2017

Winter cyclist blazes an 1,800-mile trail

On a sunny afternoon in Nome, Jeff Oatley stepped off his fat bike. That day, for the first time since before the Super Bowl, he had nowhere to ride tomorrow. On March 7, Oatley, with his wife Heather Best (who rode a few hundred miles of choice trail with him), finished a winter bicycle ride from Skagway to Nome.

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24 March 2017

Squirrels somehow predict seed bonanza

How can female squirrels predict a good food supply before it exists?

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10 March 2017

Far-north mallards thriving on the edge

With dogs’ breath fogging the 30-below zero air at their knees, 71 Iditarod mushers steamed their way down the frozen Chena River in Fairbanks on March 6. Upstream, just a few miles behind them, 500 ducks were surviving in a one-mile stretch of open water.

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3 March 2017

Far-north lake trout living in mystery

In early March up on the frozen Arctic Coastal Plain, as the wind sculpts snow into drifts, it’s hard to tell northern lakes from surrounding tundra. But lurking deep beneath that flat white world are toothy predators as long as your arm.

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17 February 2017

Cold War inspired first launch from Poker Flat

When they launch, the four rockets now pointed northward from Poker Flat Research Range will add to the 345 that have arced over northern Alaska during the past 48 years. Recently, Chuck Deehr remembered number one.

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10 February 2017

More tropical nights in Alaska’s future?

By the end of this century, Alaskans may be enjoying tropical evening breezes for about a week each year. That’s an increase from the almost zero such nights we currently savor.

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3 February 2017

Lack of sea ice and Lower 48 weather

Unless you are now eating muktuk in Savoogna, it’s hard to pinpoint the effects of less sea ice floating on the northern oceans. But some researchers say the northern ocean — now absorbing so much more heat and reflecting so much less — is affecting weather far from the Arctic.

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27 January 2017

Sleuthing the site of a century-old earthquake

The second-largest earthquake on the planet in 1904 happened somewhere in Alaska. It could have been St. Michael, Rampart, Fairbanks, Coldfoot or a place called Sunrise on the Kenai Peninsula. People felt the magnitude 7.3 at each place.

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19 January 2017

An open letter to deep Interior cold

But here you are, back in Fairbanks, far from the dulling effects of the (relatively) warm ocean. There’s no buffer between us and the Neptune-like top of the winter world but a mountain range, skimpy boreal forest and tundra plants covered with snow. And in you came.

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18 January 2017

The Mount Sulzer avalanches: the amazing video

The fourth of the Mount Sulzer avalanches, which occurred in August 2016, was captured in a remarkable video by Luke Wassink, a National Park Ranger

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17 January 2017

Mount Sulzer – a series of dramatic, and extremely large, debris and ice avalanches

Over the last three years a series of dramatic, and extremely large, debris and ice avalanches have occurred on Mount Sulzer in Alaska

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5 January 2017

Bringing the world to a standstill

During an eruption that lasted three days in 1912, a vibrant landscape became the gray badlands known as the Valley of 10,000 Smokes.

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15 December 2016

Tales of frozen water, from San Francisco

Dozens of the 22,000 scientists gathering here for the week are talking about ice, mostly about how much of it is disappearing, and how quickly that is happening.

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9 December 2016

To Alaska and then some for Yukon lynx

“My wife saw a lynx out there, sitting next to the chicken coop like a lion, twitching its tail and looking at the chickens and ducks,” said Ralph Lohse, who lives with his wife Linda on property between the Edgerton Highway and the Tonsina River. They watched the lynx for 40 minutes, until it leapt to webbing on top of a chicken coop.

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7 December 2016

The Icy Bay landslide in Alaska: a nice video describing the link with glacial melting

. The Icy Bay landslide in Alaska A very nice video has been posted on Youtube describing the link between the giant Icy Bay landslide in Alaska in 2015 (this landslide is also variously known as the Taan Fjord landslide and the Tyndall Glacier landslide), which is the largest known recent landslide in North America, and the melting of the adjacent glacier.  The video features Dr Michael Loso, physical scientist …

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2 December 2016

To the opposite end of the Earth

Joanna Young does not seem to fear change very much. The spunky redhead first came to Fairbanks from Egypt, where her parents were teaching English and running a school. Raised in Toronto, she knew what cold was. But this was January 2010, a colder-than-average month. The temperature bottomed out at minus 41 F as she arrived.

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