“I came here 40 years ago, when I just moved up from Juneau,” Kes Woodward says in a South Carolina accent soft as butter. “These trees were just saplings.”
To the delight of the local mosquitoes, Nicholas Hasson steps through a tangle of prickly spruce branches while wearing a backpack that holds a scientific instrument.
Greenup — the great, silent collective explosion of freed tree buds that had been frozen all winter like a clenched fist — will happen any day now in Fairbanks. The phenomenon is easy to notice here in middle Alaska, which is locked up in black-and-white for much of the year.
In Alaska’s infinite waters swims a handsome, silvery fish. Until recently, we knew little about the Bering cisco, which exists only around Alaska and Siberia. Then a scientist combined his unique life experiences with modern tools to help color in the fish’s life history.
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.
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.
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 …
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 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.
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.
After years of writing this column about life in the ocean and environmental issues, and as a conversation and learning tool for anything ocean-related going on around our beautiful Island, I currently find it difficult to stay within the limits of this assignment.
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.
The season is changing again. This morning the roofs of the houses in my neighborhood were coated in frost, I had to warm up my car before I could see out the windows and there was a fresh layer of snow on the peaks of the mountains.
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.
An 80-foot ship called the Island C, a great captain with a vision, an exceptional young cook, a competent and upbeat skiff operator, and an engineer with a wealth of experiences and stories to complement, two crew leaders, and a group of volunteers who work hard pulling together every day, …
Kodiak is such an interesting place: If you look at a map of the United States, you are lucky if Alaska even shows up in its proper location and is not inserted somewhere off the coast of Mexico.
I have recently been tasked with reviewing a paper about ecosystem dynamics in the North Atlantic Ocean. It has given me some appreciation of the difficult job of fisheries managers and the task of writing reports on the status of an ecosystem.
“May you always have sand in your shoes and a shell in your pocket” read the text on a card a friend gave me a while ago. The card featured a mermaid; I like mermaids.
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.
When our mind seeks solutions to the problems of the day, it often takes a trip down memory lane. People remember things in different ways and often the memories are tied to certain items or images.
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.
This time will be remembered in history. What would I give for a glimpse into one of the future recounts of the changes that our country is in the process of and preparing to undergo?
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.
There is a great white shark in the fish tank with me. Well, not really, but this is the best metaphor I could come up with trying to translate the old saying “there is an elephant in the room” into a marine theme.
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.
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.
Nate Becker lives with his family on a quiet stretch of the Yukon River as it flows into Alaska. On a recent ski trip, I visited the Beckers’ home along with two geologist friends. Nate had a question for them.
Today, I was woken up by the sounds of playing children. There is a lot of shouting and screaming involved, a lot of stomping of running feet, doors opening and slamming shut, and a lot of energy. As the kids were outside in the snow, I spent some time watching as they were totally engulfed …