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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.

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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.

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On this beautiful day in Kodiak, the last Sunday before Christmas, with the island covered in a pristine blanket of snow and the sun glittering in the crystals on every snowy surface, my mind is on dark chocolate truffles.

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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.

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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.

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One day long ago, I stood at a window rocking a sickly toddler on my arms while looking at the purplish-gray evening sky. A flock of seagulls flew by, seemingly in a hurry to get from wherever they came from to wherever they were headed.

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“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…

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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.

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I am celebrating on a rainy November afternoon: For weeks I have been talking about the importance of participating in the democratic process and casting one’s vote despite the downfalls of the system.

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Will Harrison, who knew the world’s bumpy plains of ice as well as his old neighborhood in Saint John, New Brunswick, has died. He was 84.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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A good friend called me up last week to ask if I could help her with some biological samples. She needed to split her workload, because she realized that with an increased load of home schooling for her two kids, her time was going to shrink away quickly.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The recent discovery of the most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in Japan suggests the duck-billed creatures once stomped across the Bering Land Bridge.

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It was the first weekend in May, and Alaskans were getting out. Emboldened by words from the governor to get outside, or more likely their desires to escape the house, people were driving south on the Richardson Highway from Fairbanks.

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On these wet, mushy April days, as returning ducks set their wings for landing at Creamer’s Field in Fairbanks, spring breakup is proceeding as it always has. This year is different, though, noticed in the striking quiet of places that would usually be hopping.

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Riley the wolf has died. She lived in the wild until almost the age of 11, which biologists call a remarkable feat. Wolves are lucky to live to 6.

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Howard Pass, a rock-stubbled tundra plateau in the western Brooks Range, is one of the lowest points in the mountains that arc across northern Alaska. It is a broad gateway between the great drainages of the Colville and Noatak rivers.

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One-hundred-two years ago, a strain of influenza virus spread across the globe, eventually reaching Brevig Mission in Alaska. Five days after the flu hit the Seward Peninsula, 72 of the 80 villagers in Brevig Mission were dead.

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Last night I went out for a drink with a couple of friends. As we arrived, the band was just leaving after playing for an empty room all evening and we had our choice of, well, all of the tables.

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On the cusp of Interior Alaska’s springtime, Melinda Webster will not experience it this year. She’ll miss most of summer, too. Webster will soon head north of Earth’s land masses, to spend the next half year cradled in ice.