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You are browsing the archive for Alaska Science Forum Archives - The Field.

May 13, 2021

Wolf-virus study shows the virtue of space

In a study of more than 2,000 gray wolves from near Mexico to northern Canada, researchers found that the farther wolves were from people, the fewer viruses and parasites they encountered. Scientists used blood samples taken over several decades from wolves on the Alaska Peninsula, Denali National Park and Preserve and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Park and Preserve. They also used samples from wolves living as far east as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and as far south as Arizona.

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April 30, 2021

The secret life of an Alaska fish

By Ned Rozell In Alaska’s infinite waters swims a handsome, silvery fish. Until recently, we knew little about the Bering cisco, which exists only around Alaska and Siberia. Then a scientist combined his unique life experiences with modern tools to help color in the fish’s life history. Randy Brown is a fisheries biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Fairbanks. Many years before he started that career, he …

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April 22, 2021

Big change on a big landscape

The Alsek, a world-class rafting river that flows into the Gulf of Alaska from its headwaters in Canada, may soon abandon the lower part of its drainage for a steeper one 15 miles away. The re-route will be due to the extreme melt of Grand Plateau Glacier, which acts like a cork that prevents the Alsek from following a faster path to the sea.

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April 16, 2021

Listening to avalanches half a state away

High on the broken pyramid of Iliamna Volcano, rotten rock held in place by volcano-warmed ice sometimes loses its grip. Several times over the years, rock-and-ice avalanches have blasted down Iliamna at 150 miles per hour. Left behind on the mountain’s face is a dirty, five-mile scar, in the same place as the last one.

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March 19, 2021

Why did the vole climb the tree?

By Ned Rozell A few years ago, Link Olson wanted students in his mammalogy class to see one of the neatest little creatures in Alaska, the northern flying squirrel. He baited a few live traps with peanut butter rolled in oats and placed them in spruce trees. When he returned the next day, he found no flying squirrels. Instead, peering back at him were the beady eyes of the mice …

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March 4, 2021

Finding the great earthquake of 1900

The largest earthquake on the planet for the year 1900 happened somewhere near Kodiak, Alaska, on Oct. 9. Scientists know it was big, but how big? And could it happen again?

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March 1, 2021

Malaspina Glacier gets up and goes

Massive icefields near the Canada/Alaska border feed Malaspina ice through a slot in the mountains. Freed of mountain walls, Malaspina’s ice oozes over the coastal plain like batter on a hot griddle. Near the Gulf of Alaska about 30 miles northwest of Yakutat, the glacier is — on clear days — visible from a window seat on an Alaska Airlines flight from Southeast Alaska to Anchorage. But the dirty-white blob on the cheek of Alaska is not as large as it used to be, which is why glaciologist Martin Truffer and his colleagues are studying it.

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February 19, 2021

‘Ghost forest’ got run over by a glacier

A “ghost forest” exposed as La Perouse Glacier in Southeast Alaska retreated. In the past, the glacier ran over the rainforest trees. Two people are also in the photo. Photo by Ben Gaglioti.

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February 8, 2021

Blue beads in the tundra: The first U.S. import from Europe?

Glass beads the size of blueberries found by archeologists in a Brooks Range house-pit might be the first European item ever to arrive in North America, predating the arrival of Columbus by a few decades.

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January 29, 2021

Bowhead whales: A recent success story

Bowhead whales are true northern creatures, swimming only in cold oceans off Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Svalbard and Russia. These bus-size whales have the largest mouths in the animal kingdom, can live for 200 years and can go without eating for more than a year due to their remarkable fat reserves. Bowheads are also a rare wildlife rebound story, with the population north and west of Alaska now numbering more than 16,000. That’s up from the 1,000 or so animals Yankee whalers left behind in bloody waters at the turn of the last century.

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