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Alaska had been a state for one year in 1960 when its department of fish and game conducted a wolf-planting experiment on Coronation Island in southeast Alaska. At the time, the remote 45-square-mile island exposed to the open Pacific had a high density of blacktailed deer and no wolves. Tha…

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KODIAK — LeConte Glacier near Petersburg is the farthest-south glacier that spills into the sea on this side of the equator. Where that ice tongue dips into salty water, scientists recently measured melting much greater than predicted.

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KODIAK — The Piper Super Cub is a nimble favorite of Alaska bush pilots who land on and take off from gravel bars and mountaintops. Engineers who designed the plane in the 1940s found a simple model that still works.

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KODIAK — Late one night in August 1943, far out in the western Aleutians, a US Navy destroyer ran a sonar search for Japanese submarines. The ship curved figure eight patterns across the surface of a calm sea outside Kiska Harbor, while a three-quarter moon flickered through broken clouds.  …

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KODIAK — Marked by metal cones and a clear-cut swath 20 feet wide, Alaska’s border with Canada is one of the great feats of wilderness surveying.

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During Patrick Druckenmiller’s not-so-restful sabbatical year of 2015, he flew to museums around the world. In Alberta and then London, the Univer-sity of Alaska Museum’s curator of earth science looked at bones of dino-saurs similar to ones found in northern Alaska. 

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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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KODIAK — Everybody eats. I thought writing about nutrition would be easy, especially since I have lately spent quite some effort learning more about what foods energize and what foods actually zap us of energy. Hours later, I found myself still staring at a blank page after going down severa…

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KODIAK — 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 n…

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YAKUTAT — On sandy barrier islands between mountains and the sea, two different birds that look alike lay their eggs side-by-side. Biologists here are learning more about the less-common, more mysterious one.

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KODIAK — 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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KODIAK — 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 — su…

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KODIAK — At this time of the year, Kodiak always seems to be buzzing. Everyone is busy rushing around and getting ready for something. It’s a different kind of busy than the business around Christmas time; this is more existential rather than social. Outdoor activities have sprung into full …

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KODIAK — It was Easter Sunday in Kodiak and we had snow on the ground. Actually, that is not so unusual; I remember several Easter when my now-grown son was little, where I hid eggs in the snow. This does not change the fact that the winter was extremely warm for our latitude and the Bering …

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KODIAK — Most everyone in Kodiak knows that Alaska was colonized by Imperial Russia in the late 18th century, largely to harvest sea otter furs. Not as well-known is that ice from Woody Island was the last source of income for Russian America, and was tallied as a valuable asset when Alaska …

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In the 1820s, painter and naturalist John James Audubon designed an experiment to test if birds had a sense of smell. He dragged a rotten hog carcass into a field, then piled brush on top of it. After none of the local turkey vultures appeared, Audubon concluded that vultures hunted using th…

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At the approach of a canoe, the wolverine tears into the woods, its claws spitting mud. Seconds later, ravens scatter from what resembles two branches reaching from a driftwood log.

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KODIAK — In 1908, a colossal blast incinerated a swath of wilderness deep in Siberia, at about the same latitude as Anchorage. 

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KODIAK — While most of Alaska has not felt too wintery yet, 175,000 moose have noticed a change. As biologist Tom Seaton pointed out in last week’s column, moose are now seeking out what amounts to a large dog-food sack of twigs each day. There are no more pond greens to slurp or succulent l…

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DENALI NATIONAL PARK — When I was 12 years old, I didn’t know permafrost was like frozen lasagna. I didn’t know what permafrost was. I grew up in a small town on the Hudson River in New York.

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NEW ORLEANS — At this gathering of thousands scientists at a horseshoe bend of the lower Mississippi River, a few talked about a place far away they have been watching for years.

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It is cold out! However, while it is cold the days are also clear and sunny and the night sky is full of stars. I have taken many a beautiful walk in winter wonderland enjoying the sparkle of light on the snow and ice crystals or marveling at formations of ice sculpted by the trickle of what…

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Many creatures, including you and me, emit methane from time to time. Microbes within our guts break down one substance and turn it into another, making methane in the process. Northern lakes and tundra plants also leak methane. That gas, too, is from microbes, which become more active as th…

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I had to make an unexpected trip to Germany, where my family lives. As I am writing this article on a German keyboard, I am trying to adjust to the fact that the y and the z are in different places here, because their importance in the German language is reversed. Also, I am typing this at 4…

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Rod Boertje knew it was getting cold when the Park Service took the dogs inside. Boertje, then a graduate student in wildlife biology at the University of Alaska, was doing a study on caribou in Denali National Park in the early 1980s. Park rangers, saying it was too cold for the sled dogs t…

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Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 1:44 a.m. was winter solstice. As I am writing this article, it is not Wednesday yet and technically I should be writing in the future perfect tense: Wednesday, at 1:44 am it will have been winter solstice. Sunrise on that day will have been at 9:53 am Kodiak time. I w…

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SAN FRANCISCO — On rare winter mornings here, a skim of ice forms on sidewalk puddles. But water’s solid form is mostly an abstraction in this land of blooming flowers and the hummingbirds that visit them. Except for the week of the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

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Joanna Young does not seem to fear change very much. The spunky redhead first came to Fairbanks from Egypt, where her parents were teaching English and running a school. Raised in Toronto, she knew what cold was. But this was January 2010, a colder-than-average month. The temperature bottome…

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As biologist Craig George was helping Native whale hunter Billy Adams cut sections of blubber from a bowhead whale, he pressed his knife into an old scar in the whale’s skin. The knife made a crunching noise; George cut deeper, then pulled out a sharp piece of slate. He held in his hands a h…

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We are all interested in regaining or maintaining an active lifestyle, especially after age 40. Those of us who had been “too busy” to stay active usually have a change of heart or wake up around middle age and want to get with the program. People look for a few first steps to hang their hat…

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Many years ago at the young age of 19 I applied for acceptance into a research diver program. I was already scuba certified, but this program was a lot more in-depth and would train me in special safety protocols and techniques to perform scientific work under water. There was an entry exam …

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Biologist Susan Sharbaugh, formerly of the Alaska Bird Observatory, once spoke about the strategies birds employ to survive in our season of darkness and cold. She talked about the flighty birds that split, and the hardy few that stay. I thought I knew something about birds, but she kept del…

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After Hurricane Ike in 2008 shoved six feet of water into downtown Galveston, Texas, people there had the attention of all America. But two days later, lawyers for Lehman Brothers filed the largest bankruptcy in America’s history. The Federal Reserve bailed out insurance giant A.I.C. with an…

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GALVESTON, Texas — Here on this alligator-shaped mound of sand, the temperature of 88 is the warmest recorded this late in the season since weather observers started writing them down in 1871. Sitting here in the shade, absorbing a sultry breeze, I’m seeing few things that remind me of Alaska.