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January 21, 2021

Alaska’s all-time cold record turns 50

Jan. 23, 2021, is the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s all-time cold temperature: minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded by a weather observer at Prospect Creek Camp. Now a clearing in the woods, Prospect Creek Camp was located near the confluence of Prospect Creek and the Jim River, just north of the Arctic Circle and about 160 miles north of Fairbanks.

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January 11, 2021

The Ray Sponaugle well: A 13,000-ft lesson in Appalachian Valley and Ridge structure

“To the surprise of the drillers and geologists involved with the project, the well bore never got anywhere close to the Cambrian quartzite. At 10,000 ft (3,010 m) below the surface, the well passed through a thrust fault and entered a tight, nearly recumbent syncline cored by the same Ordovician shale unit into which drilling began.”

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Giant storms, big waves and chilly winds

…the Howard Pass weather station in the western Brooks Range recorded an air temperature of minus 33 degrees Fahrenheit. At the same time, the wind was blowing 47 miles per hour. That’s a windchill of minus 78 degrees. That inhumane condition is not unusual for Howard Pass, a relative low spot (2,062 feet) in Alaska’s farthest-north mountain range.

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December 4, 2020

Lidar hillshade imagery hints at the location of a future coal spoil landslide

A coal spoil landslide in southeastern Wise County, Virginia, appears traceable to a faint scarp visible in the spoil pile in a 2017 lidar dataset. The slide pre-dates October 2019 Google Earth imagery and post-dates the 2017 lidar data acquisition.

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December 3, 2020

The northern shrike: songbird like no other

Northern shrikes often jam their prey in forks of trees, or impale voles and birds on a sharp branch, or maybe a strand of barbed wire. Shrikes may store food like this because their feet are more like a chickadee’s than a hawk’s; sticking their food to something helps them tear into it.

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November 17, 2020

Some good news from the thin ice

A group of researchers have found that the ocean floor around Bering Strait still seems to be capturing billions of bits of carbon that might otherwise lead to an even warmer planet.

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November 6, 2020

Goodbye to a raffish glacier scientist

Will Harrison, who knew the world’s bumpy plains of ice as well as his old neighborhood in Saint John, New Brunswick, has died. He was 84. From his arrival at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks in January 1972, the Canada-born Harrison mapped out and executed studies of glaciers from Antarctica to Greenland. He and his charges measured and reported great changes before they became obvious.

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November 2, 2020

Steller sea lions and mercury

Within their bulbous bodies, Steller sea lions of the western Aleutian Islands seem to carry more mercury than sea lions closer to mainland Alaska. By looking at tiny bits of fish and squid, a graduate student is trying to find out where that mercury is coming from.

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October 27, 2020

Ravens and crows are hard to fool

They are savvy to disguises, but can get spooked by novel costumes. Trick or treat?

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October 23, 2020

Fireball in the sky over Alaska

Fee, who is also a researcher with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, finds infrasound useful for capturing the explosive roar of volcanoes. Scientists have also detected the aurora borealis stirring the thin air above us, and the air disturbed by far-off mine explosions. And, it turns out, infrasound is also a good tool for measuring the path of space rocks screaming through the 30-mile shell of gases surrounding our planet.

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