Kodiak Daily Mirror - Daily newspaper of Kodiak, Alaska
  
Science
 
Northern Alaska joins the cryosphere
It's mid-October, 118 miles from the Arctic Circle. Time for a walk to work. Since I last wrote about my 3-mile commute through the raindrops of August, the 1,100 acres of boreal forest between my house and the university has undergone the most drastic change of the year. Ankle-deep snow covers the North Campus and most of Interior Alaska. Steps on the forest floor, which sinks like a frozen piecrust, are silent. ...
Oct 22, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend
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Alaska Science Forum: Fire on the mountain near the Yukon River
A smoking mountain near the Yukon River not far from Eagle is, after further study, still a puzzle. People first noticed acrid smoke in September 2012. The mountain has been steaming ever since, even through the coldest days of winter. Scientists thought a likely cause for the smoldering mountaintop was an oily rock deposit that somehow caught fire. Linda Stromquist, a geologist for the National Park Service, has ...
Oct 15, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend
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The mammoth mystery of St. Paul Island
One foggy day on St. Paul Island, a woolly mammoth stepped onto a trapdoor of greenery. It plunged thirty feet to the floor of a cave. There was no exit. A few thousand years later, a scientist who descended by ladder found the mammoth's tooth amid the bones of other mammoths, polar bears, caribou, reindeer and arctic foxes. Radiocarbon dating showed the mammoth died about 6,500 years ago. Here was proof that mamm...
Oct 08, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend
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Alaska Science Forum: Why was interior Alaska green during the last ice age?
During our planet's most recent cold period, a slab of ice smothered Manhattan. Canada looked like Antarctica but with no protruding mountains. When the last glacial maximum peaked about 20,000 years ago, most of the continent — from the Arctic Ocean to the Missouri River — slept under a blanket of white. Alaska was different. Anchorage and the rest of Southcentral, Southeast, and the Alaska Peninsula were under i...
Oct 01, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend
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Minto earthquakes then, now and tomorrow
MINTO — Sarah Silas, 89, smiled as she remembered an earthquake that shook her village more than 60 years ago. The floor of her cabin swayed so that her young son staggered away from her. "My three-year old boy was laughing," she said inside her log cabin, its front door open to warm air on a golden day. "The ground was moving so much I couldn't even reach my little son." Silas, with her husband Bergman a gracious...
Sep 24, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend
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Alaska Science Forum: Maverick red aspens in a world of gold
Will Lentz, a reader from Fairbanks, asks a question that flares every fall: why do some aspens turn red? A few scientists from Fort Collins, Colorado, pondered that subject in the late 1970s. Curious about red aspen trees people had noticed for half a century, they studied why these existed amid those with the more common leaf color, yellow. Before getting to the scientists' results, a quick refresher on why tree...
Sep 17, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend
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Alaska Science Forum: Ernest Leffingwell, scientist with a fan club
One hundred years ago, a group of men sailed to the northern coast of Alaska to find a land mass rumored to protrude from the Arctic Ocean. They did not find the land. After wintering in the north everyone hurried back to warmer places. Except for Ernest Leffingwell. Leffingwell, a geologist, teacher, and a veteran of the Spanish-American War, stayed behind on Flaxman Island, a sandy wedge of land north of Alaska’...
Sep 10, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend
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North slope ravens force researcher to go incognito
Some biologists hang from ropes to study birds. Many rise painfully early in the morning. Stacia Backensto disguised herself as a man. At the time, Backensto worked in the oilfields on Alaska’s North Slope. Her study subject was ravens, and she took to wearing a moustache because they seemed to recognize her as she roamed the industrial landscape. “All of the adults I’ve tagged remember me,” Backensto, now a biolo...
Sep 03, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend
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Why don’t hibernating bears get osteoporosis?
Bears have the right idea. Don’t fight the cold; just shut ‘er down for six months and emerge when it’s warmer. Why didn’t we think of that? For one thing, our bones would wither. We’d all get osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become more fragile. Bears don’t get osteoporosis, even though they hibernate for more than half the year in Alaska. What might we learn from this? Seth Donahue of Michigan Tech Univers...
Aug 27, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend
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An archaeologist’s field guide to coffee cans
The year is 1905. You are a prospector in Alaska relaxing in your cabin after a chilly day of working the tailings pile. Craving a cup, you pull a tin of coffee off the shelf. Though you can’t imagine it, that distinctive red can, the one you will later use for your precious supply of nails, will long outlive you. And it will give an archaeologist a good idea of when you made a home in Alaska. The coffee was Hills...
Aug 20, 2014 | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend
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