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November 8, 2019

Which came first in Alaska: cabins or bats?

Jesika Reimer, a bat expert and consultant who lives in Anchorage, has in the past taken people up on those offers. Reimer has held in her hands little brown bats from the Northwest Territories to the Tanana River. Along with a few colleagues around Alaska, she is sharing new information about the farthest-north bat.


October 31, 2019

Little brown bats remain a northern mystery

“There really could be bats in your belfry this Halloween, or it turns out, they may be snuggled up in your wood pile.” At the risk of plagiarizing myself, that is the lead sentence of my first science column, which appeared on this day 25 years ago.


October 21, 2019

Living dead scattered across Alaska landscape

Their bodies cooling with the October air, wood frogs are now snug in leafy blankets all over Alaska. Down there inside those thumb-size frogs, even smaller creatures are hitching a ride. These tiny parasites have the power to make frogs develop up to a dozen extra legs, or no legs at all.


October 11, 2019

Middle Alaska once again part of the cryosphere

The great albedo change of 2019 might be here. Snow is covering this part of Alaska that gets coldest in winter and warmest in summer, driving it toward the former.


October 7, 2019

Sifting volcanic paydirt to help forecast eruptions

More than 100 volcanoes pimple the adolescent skin of Alaska, spreading from ear to ear. Some are loud, flamboyant and obnoxious. Others are sneaky and quiet, escaping notice until a pilot sees a gray plume that wasn’t there yesterday.


September 27, 2019

Raccoons, wild pigs and other bad ideas

After reading my column about biologists who once stocked a Southeast Alaska island with wolves, a reader mailed me a book. In it, the author detailed peoples’ attempts to import raccoons, wild pigs and other creatures to Alaska. In addition to well-known events like the recent introduction of wood bison to the Innoko River country, Tom Paul wrote about smaller creatures people have over the years let loose onto beaches and into the woods of Alaska.


September 14, 2019

Planet walk puts things in perspective

With the sun warming our backs from 93 million miles away, Pete shows me the first of 10 signs spread out along Yukon Drive, on the northwest part of the UAF campus, overlooking the flats of the Tanana River. This signpost represents the sun.


September 5, 2019

Thermometers at work everywhere in Alaska

Every Alaskan owns at least one version of a sensitive scientific instrument: the thermometer. But what is it measuring?


August 29, 2019

Atmospheric rivers sometimes soak Alaska

Scientists have long noted these flood-causing/wildfire-relieving “long, narrow plumes of enhanced atmospheric water vapor.” If you were to study weather maps of the entire Earth today, you would see about 11 atmospheric rivers.


August 19, 2019

When biologists stocked Alaska with wolves

Alaska had been a state for one year in 1960 when its department of fish and game conducted a wolf-planting experiment on Coronation Island in southeast Alaska. At the time, the remote 45-square-mile island exposed to the open Pacific had a high density of blacktailed deer and no wolves.