Old Dogs, Alaska and the New World

When people first walked across the Bering Land Bridge thousands of years ago, dogs were by their sides, according to researchers who wrote a paper published in the journal Science. Scientists from Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles used dog DNA material — some of it unearthed by miners in interior Alaska — to conclude that […]

kelp strand fish aquarium

Sea otters defend CO2 absorbing kelp forests

The fur trade halted abruptly with the International Fur Seal Treaty of 1911, which finally forbade commercial harvesting. Hunters and trappers had run rampant during the last two centuries. The species of sea life they harvested for pelts during the 18th and 19th century were decimated: Northern fur seal populations were incredibly rare, and Sea […]

Mummy ground squirrel tells of a different Alaska

One fall day in Interior Alaska, a lion stalked a ground squirrel that stood exposed on a hillside like a foot-long sandwich. The squirrel saw bending blades of grass, squeaked an alarm call, and then dived into its hole. It curled up in a grassy nest. A few months later, for reasons unknown, its heart […]

An oasis on the Seward Peninsula

On a recent ski trip across the Seward Peninsula, I followed a trail along the Pilgrim River broken by five friends. Their path led to a subarctic oasis. Beyond the blank white of frozen river was a small settlement nestled in balsam poplar trees 60 feet high. The cleared fields, old farm equipment, scattered pine […]

Kodiak Island grass bluff view bay

Ancient footprints on Beringia

You can see the depressions in the earth when the archaeologists point them out. Each house had a central room connected by tunnels to side rooms. Female relationships guided living arrangements: in a grandmother’s house, each of her daughters’ families would occupy one of the small side rooms. When they gathered there in rooms partially […]

happy grooming sea otter

Sea otters and kelp forests helping you

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – The fur trade halted abruptly with the International Fur Seal Treaty of 1911, which finally forbade commercial harvesting. Hunters and trappers had run rampant during the last two centuries. The species of sea life they harvested for pelts during the 18th and 19th century were decimated: Northern fur seal […]

Frontier Scientists presents videos about Understanding Climate Change Through Archaeology

October 8 2013— You’ve seen ancient bones uncovered by archaeologists in museums, dusty and mysterious, and learned something new about the past. For a zooarchaeologist, bones will give up more secrets than most. Join Mike Etnier, zooarchaeologist at Western Washington University, as he exposes the secrets of bones. In videos “A Zooarchaeologist’s Take on Climate […]

Mendenhall Glacier ice cave

A forest revealed under glacial ice

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Alaska’s Mendenhall Glacier is shrinking, and its retreating ice has bared the remains of an ancient forest. Preserved stumps and trunks, many still rooted and even bearing bark, sit in a gravelly mix of stone churned up by the glacier. The trees are being exposed to open air for […]

Orbital dynamics and climate

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Cyclical changes in the way the Earth circumnavigates the Sun can influence Earth’s climate. Last week, we looked at Milankovitch’s assessments of orbital dynamics, including: orbital eccentricity, Earth’s tilt or obliquity, and the precession or change in orientation of the Earth’s axis of rotation which determines what direction each […]

orbital variance seasons

Earth’s orbital dynamics

In the 1930s, Serbian mathematician Milutin Milankovitch theorized that slow changes in the way the Earth moves through space about the Sun could have influenced our planet’s climate past. The Earth has experienced a string of ice ages in the past, interrupted by shorter, warmer, interglacial periods. How –and how much– have the Earths’ orbital […]