The Alsek, a world-class rafting river that flows into the Gulf of Alaska from its headwaters in Canada, may soon abandon the lower part of its drainage for a steeper one 15 miles away. 

While out on a springtime snow trail, I recently saw a dozen white-winged crossbills pecking at snow on the side of the trail. When I reached the spot, I saw a yellow stain from where a team of dogs had paused.

A few years ago, Link Olson wanted students in his mammalogy class to see one of the neatest little creatures in Alaska, the northern flying squirrel. He baited a few live traps with peanut butter rolled in oats and placed them in spruce trees.

In mid-March, it is snowing once again in Fairbanks, as it has snowed on many days since October. That makes it a good day to pick up Matthew Sturm’s new book, “Field Guide to Snow.”

In 1900, Alaska was home to Native people in scattered villages and camps and recently arrived miners who scraped the creeks for gold. Many of the 60,000 souls on the rivers and hills of Alaska stumbled through a big shake that fall, especially those living on Kodiak Island.

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Glaciologist Martin Truffer changed his team’s plan the other day. He and a crew of other scientists were about to travel to Malaspina Glacier — near the elbow of Alaska where Southeast Alaska hinges onto the mainland — but the glacier has wrecked his campsite.

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As a few scientists hiked a path between the ice towers of a Southeast Alaska glacier and crashing ocean waves in 2016, they topped a ridge and saw massive tree trunks poking from gravel ahead. The dead, sheared-off rainforest stems pointed toward the ocean like skeletal fingers.

On these quiet, still days, as winter plods on, Alaskans tend to notice any movement outside their windows, such as dancing power wires strung between poles.

Bowhead whales are true northern creatures, swimming only in cold oceans off Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Svalbard and Russia. These bus-size whales have the largest mouths in the animal kingdom, can live for 200 years and can go without eating for more than a year due to their remarkable fat …

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Jan. 23, 2021, is the 50th anniversary of Alaska’s all-time cold temperature: minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit, recorded by a weather observer at Prospect Creek Camp.

More than 100 years ago, a man traveled north on a mission most people thought was ridiculous — to see if crops would grow in the frozen wasteland known as the Territory of Alaska.

During the darkest days of Alaska’s winter, black-capped chickadees stuff themselves with enough seeds and frozen insects to survive 18-hour nights. Where the chickadees spend those long nights was a mystery until a biologist tracked them.

On a certain weekday during each of the past 13 Decembers, I have settled into a chair at a long table, pulled out my notepad and listened to experts talk about the changes they have noticed north of the Arctic Circle.

On a December night more than 60 years ago, a 28-year-old Japanese student touched down in Fairbanks, Alaska. He set down his suitcase as he stepped off the plane and looked northward, hoping to see the aurora borealis.

“On winter mornings, just as the sun’s uncertain light slopes across the Tanana Flats, ravens fly over my log cabin on their daily commute to town. Perhaps, like me, they would prefer to remain here in the hills above Fairbanks, where temperatures are usually ten or twenty degrees warmer. Bu…

Ice that floats on far-north oceans has been dwindling the last few years. Scientists have described the shrinking of this solar reflector — once bigger than Russia and now taking up less space than Australia — as a breakdown of the world’s refrigerator.

Within their bulbous bodies, Steller sea lions of the western Aleutian Islands seem to carry more mercury than sea lions closer to mainland Alaska.

Katie Kangas operates a bed-and-breakfast in Ruby, Alaska. On the morning of Oct. 15, she turned to look out her picture window, toward the cabin next door. She was waiting for her client to switch the light on, at which point she would step out and deliver his breakfast.

Biologist Stacia Backensto has fooled a raven. When trying to recapture birds on Alaska’s North Slope during her graduate student days at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, she wore a moustache and beard. She also strapped pillows to her waist.

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.

In 2012, an 85-year-old scientist and his son-in-law pulled a cylinder of muck from a faraway island. They carried it home like a newborn baby, froze it and mailed it to a researcher across the country.

I Corinthians 13:11-12 (NIV) — “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. For now I know in part; the…

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.

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.

Early in his career, on a wet, windy, foggy night, Guy Tytgat checked into the loneliest hotel in the Aleutians. His room was 4 feet wide and 5 feet tall, made of fiberglass and perched on the lip of a volcanic crater.

People in an 80-foot charter boat out of Petersburg recently saw what a biologist described as a “less-than-once-in-a-lifetime” event: a white killer whale swimming through the sea.

Right now, on the brushy tundra of northern Alaska, grizzly bears are gathering at quiet streams and rivers, attracted by the largest calorie reward they can find — spawning salmon.

In this era of limited air travel, my family and I have spent most of our recent months in Fairbanks. Here, we are surrounded by spruce and birch trees of the boreal forest, a swath of mosquito-laden vegetation that stretches from Alaska all the way to Nova Scotia.

Late in the evening of July 21, 2020, State Seismologist Michael West heard a text alarm. His phone informed him of a large earthquake beneath the ocean, just south of the Alaska Peninsula, about 60 miles southeast of the village of Sand Point.

Alaska’s landscape has an unusual feature that allows us to enjoy cheap bananas in Fairbanks and other things that make life better in the subarctic.

A scientist recently wondered which animal travels farthest across the landscape in one year. In doing his research, he found a few Alaska creatures near the top of the list.

High summer is here in middle Alaska. North of Fairbanks, in bright sunshine, alder flycatchers are perched in spruce tops, just arriving from Bolivia and Peru. A few steps away, accompanied by the smell of sulfur, dozens of carrion flies buzz on and above a moose carcass.

Glacier mice are soft green ovals, about as big as your hand. Each summer day, they creep an inch across the surface of some Alaska glaciers. They roam in groups, sometimes changing direction together like a herd of caribou.

It is a pleasant day for a walk in middle Alaska, with blue sky overhead, and people perhaps looking for something to do outside, with lots of space and sweet-scented summer air around them.

Acts 19:1-7 (NIV) — “While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ They answered, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ So Pa…

I wanted to provide a short update on Alaska’s CARES funding as there have been several new developments. 

After the final steps of a long run in early March, Greg Finstad took his pulse rate. His heart was at 38 beats per minute. Perfect. The reindeer biologist and marathon runner was in top shape to run this year’s Boston Marathon.