Last week, I wrote about a thought experiment proposed by Fairbanks scientist Jim Beget. He suggests raining down crystals of a compound that captures carbon dioxide onto a frigid plateau in Antarctica. There, the greenhouse gas might remain locked for a few hundred thousand years. Beget will present his idea at the fall meeting of […]
“Doing science in the Delta is more than just coming up with interesting questions and implementing them. It also requires a lot of on-the-ground work and pre-season preparation in order to be out here for as long as we are.” A five month field season in remote Alaska is no deterrent to Ryan Choi. “I […]
Beneath a sky of stars and hazy aurora, the heat of an October day shimmers upward. The next morning, leaves, moss and tundra plants are woven into a carpet of white frost; a skin of ice creeps over the surface of lakes. Alaska is freezing once again, responding to the planet’s nod away from the […]
June 10 2015, 9pm in Alaska, tune in to KAKM Science Wednesdays, Alaska Public Media, for Frontier Scientists’ ARCTIC GROUND SQUIRREL feature. Ground squirrels, described as cute furballs or the perfect yuppie pet, live unusual lives in the Arctic. They survive body temperatures below freezing and use a superpowered internalized clock to stay on schedule. […]
At the turn of the season as snow and ice melt, Alaska’s waterways open up. “This is the highest this river will be this season,” Jason Dobkowski said. “Here is this giant flush of particulate and nutrients that flow through the river. So we are trying to make sure we sample at this big flush […]
Alaska’s North Slope is home to Arctic ground squirrels. Near the Atigun River their interlaced burrow network takes advantage of sandy soil. The burrows are so interconnected and the entrances so myriad that the scientists working there to decode Arctic ground squirrel mysteries carry a map denoting burrow entrance numbers so they can be certain […]
Jonathan Perez stands in a remote part of Alaska’s North Slope while White-Crowned Sparrows sing from surrounding shrubs and a Jaeger flies overhead, calling. Perez is listening to the bird calls, recording what species sound out and how many individuals are singing. Next to him, an automated device is attempting to do the same.
If you know where to look in the Arctic, you’ll find strange hexagons dotting the tundra beneath the enduring summer sun. Strange, scattered honeycomb chambers. The open-top hexagonal units shelter 1 or 2 square meters’ worth of tundra plants, passively raising the temperature within their fiberglass walls by 1-3°Celcius.
Vacuuming at home isn’t too edifying. How about vacuuming the Alaska tundra to snag a bag full of bugs? That’s an entirely different story. Ashley Asmus, graduate research assistant at the University of Texas at Arlington, is using a huge reverse leaf blower to collect the bugs she’ll study.
The Arctic is blanketed in snow for 9 to 10 months of the year. Then in May or June, with the Sun shining long overhead, snow melt comes sudden. Mathew Sturm, professor of Geophysics, University of Alaska, Geophysics Institute says the world of the Arctic can go from “White to dark in a space of […]
Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – Multiple instruments, configured along a tram-like platform, sense the tundra below and gather detailed data while traveling along a 50 meter transect. “We are gathering measurements that we don’t know exactly how they will be used,” said Steven Oberbauer, professor of biological sciences at Florida International University. The high […]
Nitrogen is one of the most abundant elements on Earth; nitrogen gas (N2) makes up 78% of Earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen is also an essential element for all organisms. In order to live and grow, plants and animals need the hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) which compose water, as well as carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – “The Arctic is not like Vegas. What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The major changes that we see in reduction in sea ice, reduction in spring snow cover extent, increasing vegetation that changes the radiation balance of the surface, potential changes in greenhouse gas fluxes, […]
In Alaska’s North Slope snow can be called overeager. Scientists at Toolik Field Station know that —except for the second half of August— they can expect it to snow any day of the year. Even during the brief summer, fierce storm fronts sometimes bring snow that melts away in 70°F (21°C) weather the very next […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Snowball fights. Snow angels and lovely ice sculptures. You can truck across it or ski through it. Snow might be a heavy reality you shovel every day, or a glittering crystalline landscape far away. Or both. Whatever snow means to you, it means something much more complex to the […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – We can’t use time machines to go back and take the Earth’s temperature during ancient times, yet we need past records of climate data to help calculate Earth’s history, where we are now, and what our planet will look like going forward. Paleoclimatology studies ancient climates with the use […]
Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Despite taking up as much space as Australia, the blue-white puzzle of ice floating on the Arctic Ocean is an abstraction to the billions who have never seen it. But continued shrinkage of sea ice is changing life for many living things. A few Alaska scientists added their observations to […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Wildfires are a hungry, terrible and complex force which we’ve long struggled to live alongside. Smoke and particulate matter from wildfires can travel thousands of miles, lowering air quality and causing health impacts. Local fires risk lives, and fire damage costs millions or more to repair. And now, conditions […]
Laura Nielsen for FrontierScientists The face of the Arctic is changing as plant growth flourishes further north than before. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “Temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.” This change accompanies […]
Carbon is the building block of life. Our knowledge of current climate change, however, has us counting how much carbon enters the atmosphere. We burn fossil fuels, adding anthropogenic (human-caused) carbon dioxide to the air. Meanwhile, natural processes also add carbon to the air. We know that methane can arise from warming lakes and oceans. Methane traps […]
Imagine yourself on a Colorado mountain slope. Bumblebees buzz happily around dwarf bluebell blossoms, and the spring sun is bright. Except not all is well. The flowers bloom a good seven hundred feet upslope of where they grew five years ago, forcing bees ever higher. Bright petal colors are faded: the flowers are past their […]