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

July 16, 2019

The thin line between Alaska and Canada

The boundary between Alaska and Canada is 1,538 miles long. The line is obvious in some places, such as the Yukon River valley, where crews have cut a straight line through forest on the 141st Meridian. The boundary is invisible in other areas, such as the summit of 18,008-foot Mt. St. Elias.

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July 5, 2019

Weird world of northern dinosaurs coming into focus

The mini tyrannosaur, duck-billed swamp-stompers, armor-headed planteaters and other dinosaurs found in northern Alaska hint of a story that is theirs alone. That tale is separate from the one we learned as kids, told by fossils found in Montana, Alberta, Mongolia and other more-exposed and easier-to-get-to places.

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June 28, 2019

Village move intensifying in summer 2019

The relocation of an Alaska village is happening fast this summer, after many years of planning and work. Observers say Newtok’s transition to Mertarvik is flying along because it has to — the Ninglick River bank is crumbling less than 10 yards from a Newtok home.

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June 21, 2019

A sleepless walk under the midnight sun

On a Saturday morning near summer solstice, nine people stood on a smoothed pile of gravel at Mile 5 of the Dalton Highway. A man talking to the group, the fur of a wolverine wrapping his head, had invited us to what he called AlaskAcross 2019, a nonstop 60-mile hiking traverse in northern Alaska, from Lost Creek to Eureka.

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June 14, 2019

Monitoring a mystery bird in Yakutat

Arctic terns and Aleutian terns gather together on ocean spits to scratch out nest cups. Each is a graceful creature that distinguishes itself from a gull by the incessant slicing of its sharp wings through the air.

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June 7, 2019

The sound of silence in Russell Fjord

Standing on this smooth gravel shoreline, 15 miles
northeast of the town of Yakutat, you can tell something big happened.
A forest of dead trees encircles the shoreline.

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May 30, 2019

How many Alaska glaciers? There’s no easy answer

Not long ago, a glaciologist wrote that the number of glaciers in Alaska “is estimated at (greater than) 100,000.” That fuzzy number, maybe written in passive voice for a reason, might be correct. But it depends upon how you count.

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May 24, 2019

Ruddy ducks among many moving northward

Every spring, millions of ducks touch down on Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, a spread of muskeg and dark water the size of Maryland. These days, more ruddy ducks seem to be among them. Recent sightings of this handsome, rust-colored bird — the males with a teal-blue beak — suggest ruddy ducks are moving farther northward.

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May 21, 2019

The man who broke through the Northwest Passage

Fifty years ago, a ship long as the Empire State Building sailed toward obstacles that captains usually avoid….Begging his way aboard was Merritt Helfferich, then 31 and a do-all guy at the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Helfferich, whose life of adventures also included the first hot-air balloon flight from Barrow, Alaska, died in New Mexico on May 2, 2019. He was 83.

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May 10, 2019

Breath of clams leads to big picture

To learn more about one of the largest environmental changes of our lifetimes, Brittany Jones studies clam breath. She is an expert on creatures that live in the muck covering the underwater continental shelf off western Alaska. There, sea ice waxes and wanes on the relatively shallow waters covering the former Bering Land Bridge.

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