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

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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October 15, 2020

Cold tolerance not the same for everyone

A 9-year-old Carl Tape — now a seismologist at UAF’s Geophysical Institute — poses beside a thermometer registering 50 below zero Fahrenheit during a Fairbanks cold snap in January 1989.

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October 2, 2020

Fall equinox and the big turn

On the first day of October, a little girl pulls on her rubber boots and rushes outside into crisp fall air. She knows the days are getting shorter, but she doesn’t realize Alaska is a week past the autumnal equinox. On the equinox, the sun appears to sit over Earth’s equator, causing days and nights to each last about 12 hours everywhere in the world. It is time for Alaskans to start paying the bill for all that summer daylight.

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September 24, 2020

Message from a lonely Alaska island

That 85-year-old scientist — David Klein — is now 93. He lives in Fairbanks. He was my neighbor when he last journeyed to St. Matthew Island. I went on that trip with him and a dozen others. Klein was my cheery tent-mate.

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September 21, 2020

Earthquakes and insects on Alaska road trips

A few nights ago, stretched in a tent on the blue-gray gravel of the Lowe River floodplain, I woke to a series of sharp jolts. It felt like the earth was a giant halibut, and I was the fishing pole.

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September 9, 2020

Orange trees in the Alaska Range

While wandering middle Alaska this summer, I noticed orange spruce trees along the entire length of the Denali Highway, from Paxson to Cantwell. In what looked like a dendrological case of frostbite, tips of every branch were afflicted with something. The real show happened when the wind blew: An entire valley glowed apricot. After the wind died, a Tang-like orange powder floated on rivers and puddles. It was as if someone had pepper-sprayed the Denali Highway.

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