Extreme heat in the North Pacific: The Blob

Water is strangely warm in parts of the North Pacific: in the Gulf of Alaska, off Southern California, and stretching across the Bering Sea. A NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center press release reported: Not since records began has the region of the North Pacific Ocean been so warm for so long. That references over a […]

Discerning ocean currents at current

Instruments made to measure currents tug against their moorings on the sea floor. Others bob and whirl, catching currents, winds and tides with their rectangular wings spread just under wavetops in the Bering Strait west of Alaska. Ocean water is on the move. “There’s a strong connection between the world’s ocean currents and what comes […]

Sockeye Fire Summer Solstice

June 21 2015 was this year’s Summer Solstice. But for much of Alaska the long hours of sunlight were obscured by smoke. The Sockeye Fire near Willow Alaska started Sunday and raged, burning over 7,000 acres, forcing evacuations, ravaging homes and other structures and interrupting traffic on the Parks Highway. An admirable firefighting effort involving […]

September 2014 sea ice extent

Continued Arctic changes, 2014

During high school when the day promised heat I used to spend a minute in the morning to put sunglasses on my car. They were ‘shutter shades’, louvered sunglasses printed in bold lines on folded white cardboard meant to be spread just under the windshield. The car may not have contained power anything, a reliably […]

Lab fridge Arctic ground squirrels

“They do their best to approximate a sphere,” Loren Buck explained as he removed the ground squirrel from its lab-made hibernaculum. Hibernating Arctic ground squirrels can sustain a core body temperature of just -2.9°C [26.78°F]. “It’s cold… Do you want to touch it?” Buck uncurled the animal carefully. “He knows he’s being handled, it just takes a […]

Arctic ground squirrel release

How to catch an Arctic ground squirrel – for science!

At Atigun River, north of the Arctic Circle, the sandy soil is run through with an interlaced network of burrows. The Arctic ground squirrels which call those burrows home have encountered something mundane to you or me, but no-doubt wondrous to them: big tasty taproots, stunningly orange. Carrots! Trapping squirrels The carrots are bait, placed […]

hibernating Arctic ground squirrel lab

The abundantly peculiar Arctic ground squirrel

They survive colder core body temperatures than any other known vertebrate, sustaining a temperature below freezing yet not becoming frozen. They emerge from hibernation with clock-like accuracy

Pilgrim Hot Springs thermal

Measuring and modeling geothermal resources at Pilgrim Hot Springs

There’s a place where the perennially frozen ground of the Alaskan tundra is interrupted by 2 square miles [~ 5 km² ] of thawed soil. There, cottonwoods and thick brush grow among lazily meandering waterways. The Pilgrim Hot Springs are a pleasant symptom of the geothermal heat which warms the earth deep beneath Alaska’s Seward […]

ITEX tram operation

Imaging the future of Arctic plant life

If you know where to look in the Arctic, you’ll find strange hexagons dotting the tundra beneath the enduring summer sun. Strange, scattered honeycomb chambers. The open-top hexagonal units shelter 1 or 2 square meters’ worth of tundra plants, passively raising the temperature within their fiberglass walls by 1-3°Celcius.

Soumik Basu office

Predicting the effect of anomalous sea ice loss and increasing sea surface temperatures on global storm systems

Azara Mohammadi – To become a PhD candidate at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, Soumik Basu moved from his home in Kolkata, India to a region infamous for its “below zero” weather: Interior Alaska. Basu left warm weather and his family (not to mention his mother’s cooking) because “The climate is changing, so I wanted […]