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August 12, 2021

Pine grove near Yakutat is farthest north

We were on the Yakutat Forelands — a sweep of forested lowlands left behind after glaciers retreated from the landscape hundreds of years ago. Taking steps that felt like walking on a trampoline, we moved through a pine grove in a few-acre spread of open green muskeg.

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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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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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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 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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June 4, 2020

A tale of glacier mice and young love

Green and spongy, glacier mice are not really rodents at all. They consist mostly of moss, and are the subject of a recent published study. Two of its authors are former Alaska graduate students, who met and fell in love in the company of the little green pincushions.

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August 29, 2019

Celebrating 100,000 students doing field work on the Rio Grande

Since 1996 “100,000 students have walked the halls, tested in the labs, and hiked these trails,” observed Rep. Deb Haaland.

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July 22, 2019

Dragons of summer now on the hunt

Worldwide, there are about 3,000 species of dragonfly. Thirty types live in Alaska. The largest in the state is the lake darner, a cool blue dragonfly that turns dark when the air is chilly.

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April 3, 2019

Budding scientists communicate river science to elected officials in New Mexico

Last week, two 6th grade scientists and one 12th grade scientist took a trip to downtown Albuquerque to share the story of ongoing Rio Grande field science with city councilors and county commissioners….and, wow, did these students do a tremendous job!

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March 11, 2019

Pondering the power of the ocean

Yakutat, Alaska, once found quirky fame as a surfing destination for the adventurous. Now, residents are looking into capturing wave energy to provide the town’s power.

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