Science Seen highlights outstanding feature stories, first-person accounts and other outreach related to Alaska science submitted by readers or seen on the Web. Stories should be clearly related to Alaska or based on Alaska fieldwork. You may submit your story or Web site for consideration.
Warm and dry was the weather story this August across Alaska. Temperatures in Southeast averaged about a degree warmer than normal, while temperatures in the northwest were a balmy five degrees or more above average. In what is normally one of the wettest months of the year for many locations in state, rainfall fell short of normal almost everywhere, especially along the southern coast. Only a few locations scattered across the Interior saw rainfall totals that were slightly above average. Wildfire activity was below average for the summer of 2007, with less than 400,000 acres burned. Almost 500 fires were reported and these were about evenly split between lightning and human ignition.
| Posted 09.13.07 at 5:01 am
This August, UAF researcher Katey Walter brought a National Public Radio crew to Alaska's North Slope, hoping to show them examples of what happens when methane is released when permafrost thaws beneath lakes. When they reached their destination, Walter and the crew found even more than they bargained for: a lake violently boiling with escaping methane.
| Posted 09.11.07 at 3:14 am
| Posted 09.08.07 at 12:48 am
Scientists studying the diets of Steller sea lions have come up with an innovative use of DNA analysis to determine the relative proportions of prey in sea lion feces. A new study tests the accuracy of this novel technique, and assesses its potential use in sea lions and other animals.
| Posted 09.07.07 at 1:58 am
A burning interest in fires sparked an all-day symposium at the University of Alaska Fairbanks August 15. Scientists and members of the public gathered to discuss the effect of large fire seasons and changing wildland fire policy. In 2004, the largest wildland fire season on record, fires burned 6.59 million acres in Alaska. The following year, Alaska's third largest season, fires burned 4.7 million acres.
| Posted 08.17.06 at 7:18 am
The Alaska SeaLife Center is now welcoming some tiny new personalities. One of six Pigeon Guillemots has hatched, and a clutch of Long-tailed ducks has cracked free from its shells. The first puffin chicks of the season have also arrived.
| Posted 07.26.06 at 10:13 pm
Alaskans experienced an unusually cold March this year, with a record low in Barrow and Fairbanks' coldest March in more than three decades, according to UAF's Alaska Climate Research Center. The March temperatures represent a change from February's above-normal temperatures and led to increased energy needs throughout the state.
Alaska Climate Research Center | Posted 04.12.06 at 7:05 pm
Lean, muscular and nearly seven feet tall, blonde-haired oceanographer Mark Johnson leans across the rail of the research vessel Ocean Explorer and scans Amchitka Island's emerald-green bluffs. "It's a beautiful place, no doubt about that," said Johnson, a professor of physical oceanography at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. It was on this lonely outpost along the Aleutian Island chain, some 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage, that the United States conducted three massive underground nuclear tests between 1965 and 1971. The largest--code-named Cannikin--exploded with a destructive power 400 times larger than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. More from Alaska Sea Grant writer Doug Schneider:
| Posted 02.02.06 at 3:31 am
More than 100 people gathered Thursday night in Homer for a community information meeting about Augustine Volcano. And another handful arrived early to learn about ash sample collection, reports Elizabeth Wasserman, an interpretive ranger with the Homer Field Office of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve.
| Posted 01.22.06 at 4:10 am
Moments after making an appointment for a car repair, the scheduler called me back. Ashfall was due to hit Anchorage in 15 minutes, she said. They were canceling everyone and closing for the day. I moved my car indoors, found our face masks, then checked the Web for updates. The volcano was in Code Red, actively erupting, but no Anchorage ash was expected. Did someone at my auto glass shop know something the Alaska Volcano Observatory, the Municipality of Anchorage, and the National Weather Service didn't?
| Posted 01.14.06 at 4:29 am
Augustine Volcano appears to be settling down, scientists say. Though scientists this morning downgraded the "level of concern" color code from red to orange, the volcano continues to put on a show, as seen in recent images from the Alaska Volcano Observatory Augustine Island Web Cam.
AUGUSTINE ISLAND WEBCAM / Alaska Volcano Observatory | Posted 01.12.06 at 7:17 pm
Today's two early morning explosions at Augustine Volcano were likely just the beginning, say experts who have set the "level of concern" code for activity at Code Red. According to information released today by the Alaska Volcano Observatory, "an explosive eruption could occur with little or no warning."
S. PREJEAN / Alaska Volcano Observatory & USGS | Posted 01.12.06 at 5:23 am
Two years ago, scientists with the Alaska SeaLife Center set up a special platform in Alaska's Resurrection Bay, hoping that sun-loving sea lions would willingly climb aboard for rest, relaxation—and research. When the animals didn't cooperate, the project seemed adrift. But this summer, some good fishing finally brought the animals on-board.
Photo by Brendan Smith, Alaska SeaLife Center, NMFS 881-1168 | Posted 09.09.05 at 11:40 pm
On Thursday August 18, the Canadian icebreaker Louis S. St.-Laurent experienced a
Photo by Chris Linder| Posted 09.01.05 at 4:24 pm
I feel like I have just walked on the moon. After two weeks of staring at this alien icescape from the comfortable confines of the icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent, it was a shock to feel the crunch of hard snow underfoot… to stare up at the Louis from the ice.
Photo credit: Chris Linder / WHOI | Posted 08.16.05 at 6:12 pm
“Ten seconds of sheer terror followed by five hours of intense boredom.” That’s how technician John Kemp describes what it’s like to recover a moored buoy containing a year’s worth of scientific data from beneath Arctic pack ice, reports correspondent Chris Linder in this special dispatch from sea.
Photo credit: Chris Linder | Posted 08.10.05 at 8:08 pm
Fairbanks, Alaska-If you want to keep Alaska's ravenous mosquitoes at bay, consider living among a colony of crested auklet seabirds. According to a study in July's Journal of Medical Entomology, crested auklets emit a citrus-like odor that effectively repels mosquitoes and other pests.
Photo: Hector Douglas | Posted 08.01.05 at 7:02 pm
For the third year, an international science team is studying climate change in one of the most inhospitable places on the planet-the Arctic Ocean's Beaufort Gyre. Cruise participant and documentarian Chris Linder of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution invites ASO readers to read dispatches and see photos from the field as the research progresses, starting this week.
Chris Linder / WHOI | Posted 08.01.05 at 3:13 am
A few months ago, Dave Norton was up late listening to the radio when he heard a story that divers had found blue mussels in the high arctic, a sure sign of global warming. Or was it? More from Alaska Science Forum's Ned Rozell.
| Posted 05.02.05 at 8:24 pm
Frozen frogs were featured in an NSF-supported documentary on NOVA's scienceNOW, reports NSF.gov writer Randy Vines. The North American wood frog is a remarkable amphibian that survives the winter with a heart-stopping strategy: This frog, found from southern Ohio up to the Arctic Circle, can literally "freeze and thaw" along with normal winter-spring weather patterns.
US Fish & Wildlife Service | Posted 05.02.05 at 5:25 pm
Have a Windows-based computer? Try out a new interactive 3-D tool that allows users to "fly" along the path of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The project is intended as a public test of a visualization tool developed by Instiitute of Northern Engineering researcher Matt Nolan, announced the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
| Posted 03.09.05 at 5:49 am
Record cold temperatures in the Arctic's upper atmosphere have scientists predicting the loss of the protective layer of ozone over the Arctic as spring approaches, reports Doug Schneider for Arctic Science Journeys Radio. Experts predict the thinning will most likely have the greatest impact on northern Europe.
| Posted 03.08.05 at 5:18 pm
In the recent documentary film "Super Size Me," the filmmaker explores the effects of a strict diet of fast food on his own body. His health fails rapidly over a period of one month. Although he resumes a normal diet following his self-imposed ordeal, his experiences eerily parallel the plight of entire populations of Steller sea lions in Alaska, which have been in dramatic decline since the late 1970s, reports the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Consortium.
| Posted 03.08.05 at 5:13 pm
In a Fairbanks lab not too long ago, a man squinted through a microscope at a slide of melting ice from the Fox permafrost tunnel. Richard Hoover knew he was looking at organisms that were alive when the wooly mammoth and saber-toothed cat roamed Alaska, but he didn't expect to see them born again. Ned Rozell reports on the amazing find from an Interior Alaska tunnel for Alaska Science Forum .
| Posted 03.07.05 at 9:02 pm
Hundreds of boreal and other owls usually seen only in the far northern forests are being spotted as far south as Minnesota, a place where glimpsing just one would usually be cause for excitement, reports Audubon's director of citizen science Paul Green at The Great Backyard Bird Count project Web site.
| Posted 02.16.05 at 6:40 pm
"Did you feel the shaking? Report it here," says the home page of the Alaska Earthquake Information Center page. And, within a half hour of a 5.0 magnitude quake centered just 8 miles north of Anchorage today, more than 260 people had done it.
| Posted 02.16.05 at 4:58 pm
Shortly after the earth shook 7,000 miles away, so did Alaska's Mount Wrangell -- and Alaska Volcano Observatory scientists don't think it was a coincidence, reports Alaska Science Forum's Ned Rozell.
| Posted 02.07.05 at 11:32 pm
Prefer your Alaska unbaked? Despite longterm warming trends, two Alaska scientists tell Arctic Science Journeys producer Doug Schneider that they believe recent recent rapid change is mostly due to natural short-term cycles, which are due to reverse.
Photo by TERRY WHITLEDGE for ASJ Radio | Posted 02.07.05 at 11:18 pm
With help from Jason Wettstein at the Alaska SeaLife Center comes this tale of broken bones at the skatepark. But don't blame the ollie (or any other skateboard trick). The injured party is a sea otter with a bite wound, the SeaLife Center's first admission for 2005.
JASON WETTSTEIN / ALASKA SEALIFE CENTER | Posted 02.07.05 at 11:10 pm
UAF Geophysical Institute | Posted 02.07.05 at 11:01 pm
The melting of glaciers in Alaska is far from an isolated occurrence. Recently defrosted moss in the Andes adds to the evidence that suggests the world is warming rapidly reports Ned Rozell after sitting in on this year's American Geophysical Union scientific meeting for Alaska Science Forum.
| Posted 01.12.05 at 1:03 am
Even while fires were still burning this fall, experts began shifting their attention to the aftermath of the worst fire season in Alaska history, reports Ed Bovy of the Bureau of Land Management Alaska State Office. "Now what?" was on the minds of Alaskans and land managers alike. Would villagers now have to face the specter of reduced wildlife populations available for subsistence harvest? What about potential mudslides, insect outbreaks, unsafe bridges, and even invasive weeds?
BLM Alaska Frontiers | Posted 01.11.05 at 11:55 pm
Steve Ebbert of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge recently posted some photos of the grounded freighter Selendang Ayu, off Unalaska -- some of which show spilled fuel. Earlier today, the Associated Press reported that the spill could take months to clean up and threatens sensitive wildlife on the western side of Unalaska Island in the Aleutian chain.
Steve Ebbert | Posted 12.11.04 at 1:31 am
Researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass., who are lookng at links between Arctic seawater and climate change say that a significant increase of freshwater flow to the Arctic Ocean could slow or halt the "conveyor belt" current responsible for redistributing salt and thermal energy around the globe.
| Posted 12.10.04 at 4:39 pm
| Posted 12.10.04 at 4:30 pm
It is well known that environmental factors such as seasonal variations in prey abundance can trigger changes in the diet of many marine mammals. But how animals respond is a mystery. Scat analysis, or the examination of fecal matter -- in combination with DNA techniques -- is helping to solve this mystery, reports the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium.
| Posted 12.10.04 at 4:19 pm
Morgan Davies | Posted 12.10.04 at 4:12 pm
A Dallas scientist with a passion for Arctic dinosaurs and a University of Alaska Fairbanks geologist have secured $450,000 from the National Science Foundation to study dinosaur bonebeds on the North Slope, announced the Dallas Museum of Natural History.
Sonya Senkowsky | Posted 11.29.04 at 7:28 am
Four new harbor seals arrived at the Alaska SeaLife Center late last June and now are making their public debut. The seals -- Atuun ("song"), Qilak ("cloud"), Susitna ("sleeping lady"), and Miki ("small one") -- are more than pretty faces. They are research animals vital to understanding the dilemma of the seal decline off Alaska's shores.
Alaska SeaLife Center | Posted 11.24.04 at 7:00 am
Bruce Finney brought back an unusual souvenir from his recent 34-day cruise through southeast and southcentral Alaska: about a third of a mile's worth of the ocean floor. So reports Ned Rozell in the most recent Alaska Science Forum:
| Posted 11.11.04 at 11:24 pm
If you saw an orange and blue blimp floating over the Matanuska River this summer, reports Arctic Science Forum's Ned Rozell, you weren't hallucinating. Scientists launched the 15-foot long, tethered blimp to help them document a growing problem in Alaska--the invasion of non-native plants.
Photo by TRISH WURTZ / UAF | Posted 11.11.04 at 11:09 pm
A group of international scientists predict the Arctic Ocean could be largely ice-free by 2050, making trans-Arctic shipping common. Doug Schneider has more in this week's Arctic Science Journeys Radio.
| Posted 11.11.04 at 11:01 pm
With the release this week of a four-year comprehensive assessment of Arctic climate change research that emphasizes where researchers agree rather than where they don't -- an international team of scientists has boosted the profile of an issue once thought to be too esoteric, complicated and speculative to make the news. A US News & World Report article in the Nov. 8 issue by science writer Charles Petit is one of the first indications that the press is, well, warming to the story.
Arctic Climate Impact Assessment | Posted 11.10.04 at 7:31 am
So you thought all the big questions had already been answered? Researchers at Ohio University are looking into why moose have such big noses, when other members of the deer family do not. Ned Rozell explains their curiosity in this week's Alaska Science Forum.
Alaska Science Forum photo | Posted 11.05.04 at 5:46 am
Image by AMY RUSSELL / Alaska Wildlife News | Posted 11.05.04 at 5:30 am
More than 100 birdwatching Alaskans participate in Cornell University's Project FeederWatch, a citizen-science project in which volunteers from across the country count the numbers and kinds of bird species that visit their winter bird feeders around their homes. This year's birdwatching season begins the weekend of November 13.
Cornell University | Posted 11.04.04 at 6:59 am
Salmon is a fundamental part of life for many rural Alaskans. The arrival of salmon in spring sets in motion a cycle of activity that lasts through summer and into fall. Salmon is the fish of choice, a source of sustenance and a foundation of many cultures. But there are regions throughout Alaska where salmon is scarce, if available at all. In these regions, other fish may play a more important role in the subsistence harvest. A newly published report, funded by the Fisheries Monitoring Program, examines the importance of non-salmon species to the people of the Koyukuk River region.
USFWS - Office of Subsistence Management Alaska | Posted 11.03.04 at 6:49 am
University interns are gaining valuable work experience while they help the Department of Fish and Game learn more about the murrelets of Snettisham Inlet, writes ADF&G writer Kristen Romanoff, who joined them in the field earlier this year.
| Posted 10.28.04 at 11:18 pm
A NASA researcher who's been watching the sun says that a sun without spots today likely means that a "solar minimum," or time of decreased solar activity, is coming about a year ahead of schedule -- by the end of 2006.
NASA | Posted 10.28.04 at 11:04 pm
During a good year in Bristol Bay, a surge of more than 100 million pounds of sockeye salmon fights its way upstream, spawns, and dies. In Bristol Bay and elsewhere in Alaska, this incredible pulse of salmon carcasses enriches streams and rivers and makes young salmon hardier.
MARK WIPFLI PHOTO / Alaska Science Forum | Posted 10.28.04 at 10:58 pm
NASA | Posted 10.27.04 at 12:35 am
Where are the harbor seals going? The harbor seal population in Prince William Sound decreased roughly 63 percent between 1984 and 1997. The seals are still losing ground, and only a small portion of the decline can be attributed to the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Researchers this winter and summer braved the seas to discover why these animals are disappearing so rapidly.
| Posted 10.27.04 at 12:13 am
Hans Larsson, a McGill University (Montreal, Quebec) paleontologist, has found physical proof that Canada's Arctic regions once had a Jurassic era. Scientists have suspected that dinosaurs lived in Canada's great north eons ago, yet it remained an unproven theory, since no bones had ever been uncovered.
McGill University Newswire | Posted 10.26.04 at 5:55 am
Marine Mammal News | Posted 10.26.04 at 5:44 am
By Marion Softkey / The Almanac | Posted 10.25.04 at 5:54 am
Two seasoned biologists are set to live for one year amongst 600 Steller sea lions on a small remote island in Alaska as part of Project "Steller Watch," reports the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium.
North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium | Posted 10.25.04 at 5:29 am
Producers of the recently aired documentary Ocean Fury: Tsunamis in Alaska, focusing on the tsunamis that devastated coastal Alaska after the 1964 earthquake, tapped two powerful Alaska resources: the Alaska Region Supercomputer (used to produce animations to help explain the physics of tsunamis), and the collective memory of survivors.
| Posted 10.25.04 at 12:58 am
The caribou would return, the elders said.
Photo courtesy Reindeer Research Program / UAF Institute of Arctic Biology | Posted 10.18.04 at 11:42 pm
| Posted 10.11.04 at 2:19 am
If not for a slippery strainer, marine scientists Katrin Iken and Brenda Konar might have missed finding a new Alaska marine habitat this summer. Doug Schneider of Arctic Science Journeys tells the story behind the discovery.
| Posted 10.11.04 at 2:01 am
Reuters reporter Jeffrey Jones wrote evocatively on a recent Russian-American collaboration that included 36 scientists from many disciplines -- all aboard a Soviet-era vessel that "smelled of years' worth of cigarette smoke, sweat and fried onions."
| Posted 10.06.04 at 8:00 pm
Image of Toolik Field Station courtesy National Science Foundation | Posted 09.23.04 at 9:35 pm
Photo by David Scheel | Posted 09.23.04 at 4:35 am
A UAF professor returned to the scene of Brooks Range glacier photographed in 1958 and snapped another, largely icefree, image last year. The resulting photo offers "a solid argument for climate change in the Arctic," reports UAF's Ned Rozell.
Photo by Austin Post | Posted 09.23.04 at 1:38 am
NASA researchers are presenting Earth and space science findings in Anchorage all this week at the 2004 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium (IGARSS) at the Egan Convention Center. My slightly annotated version of the NASA presentation announcements follows -- or you can link to the NASA site to get the original.
Photo credit: NASA/JPL | Posted 09.20.04 at 5:31 pm
Photo by CHRIS LINDER / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Posted 09.17.04 at 6:32 pm
PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND, Alaska-While researchers in Alaska this summer used high-tech submersibles and huge ships to plumb the deep-ocean depths in search of new species, a team of scuba diving scientists working from an Alaska fishing boat has discovered an entirely new marine habitat just a stone's throw from shore.
University of Alaska Fairbanks | Posted 09.16.04 at 4:52 pm
Vancouver Aquarium | Posted 09.14.04 at 7:36 pm
Alaska SeaLife Center | Posted 09.14.04 at 6:19 pm
A summer of testing suspect Alaska birds for the presence of West Nile virus, turned up none found to be carrying the disease, which is transmitted in the wild through infected mosquitoes. The virus so far this year has killed 28 people and sickened more than 1,000 in the United States. Will it ever make it to Alaska? Hector Douglas reports.
Iowa State University Entomology Department | Posted 09.14.04 at 5:12 pm
| Posted 09.12.04 at 5:44 pm
NED ROZELL / Alaska Science Forum | Posted 09.09.04 at 5:35 am
Alaska Wildlife News | Posted 09.03.04 at 11:03 pm
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center | Posted 08.18.04 at 10:58 pm
Alaska Sealife Center image | Posted 08.18.04 at 1:45 am
The USGS Alaska Science Center's "Project of the Month" seems particularly timely: "Assessing wildland fire impacts on the winter habitat use and distribution of caribou within Alaska's interior boreal forest ecosystem."
Image USGS Alaska Science Center | Posted 08.18.04 at 1:40 am
North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium | Posted 08.17.04 at 11:33 pm
Photo by SAM SCOTT /Alaska Science Forum | Posted 08.17.04 at 1:47 am
The grandson of a Cape Cod, Mass., scientist recently discovered 53 photographic slides from a 1913 expedition to arctic Greenland, where his grandfather traveled as a 31-year-old botanist and geologist.
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Posted 08.09.04 at 11:09 am
Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution | Posted 08.09.04 at 10:31 am
MARK BERTRAM / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service | Posted 08.07.04 at 11:26 pm
ASO file photo by S. Senkowsky | Posted 08.05.04 at 4:12 am
Photo courtesy Hector Douglas/Arctic Science Journeys | Posted 08.05.04 at 3:35 am
AVO file photo by C. Nye | Posted 07.29.04 at 3:35 am
Photo courtesy of NOAA | Posted 07.29.04 at 3:03 am
Photo by BOB ARMSTRONG / Alaska Wildlife News | Posted 07.27.04 at 4:25 am
Alaska Science Forum | Posted 07.23.04 at 4:14 am
ALASKA NATURAL HISTORY ASSOCIATION | Posted 07.20.04 at 3:51 am
NED ROZELL / Alaska Science Forum | Posted 07.19.04 at 3:39 am
Photo by ALLEN WOLMAN / NOAA-NMML-NMFS-AK Fisheries | Posted 07.15.04 at 3:56 am
Alaska Science Forum
University of Alberta researchers tell of their visit to abandoned Amchitka island, where they probed for residual radiation from tests conducted decades ago. The experience was "haunting," a researcher said.
BEV BETKOWSKI / University of Alberta Express News | Posted 07.14.04 at 5:58 pm
Image by ROLF REAM / NOAA-NMFS-ALASKA FISHERIES-NMML | Posted 07.13.04 at 4:40 am
Image by ALEXANDRA OLIVEIRA / Arctic Science Journeys Radio | Posted 07.03.04 at 1:02 am
Image by JACQUES DESCLOITRES / NASA-Goddard | Posted 07.02.04 at 5:32 am
NED ROZELL / Alaska Science Forum | Posted 06.18.04 at 3:44 am