Hubbard, Daanen, Darrow

New videos about Frozen Debris Lobes, geohazards

February 24 2015— Slow landslides in permafrost slide downhill on mountain slopes in the Brooks Range of Alaska. These massive frozen debris lobes are geohazards. They pose a potential threat to the Dalton Highway, Alaska’s lone road to the North Slope. There are 23 identified frozen debris lobes situated less than one mile uphill from […]

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 […]

Many angles to decode frozen debris lobes

“Something chewed on the casing,” Margaret Darrow explained. “Probably a bear.” Blue chips were scattered from the cracked ABS pipe. Inside the casings that protect the holes drilled in and around frozen debris lobe -A there’s non-toxic propylene glycol. Propylene glycol, this brand a clear greenish liquid, prevents freezing – helpful for scientific instruments – […]

Effective stress and FDL science

“It’s a very dynamic slope,” Margaret Darrow said, standing in front of frozen debris lobe -A. FDL-A is a slow landslide; among the frozen debris lobes documented it’s the closest to the Dalton Highway and the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Although the lobes likely began their life as debris left over when Pleistocene glaciers disappeared 10 to […]

Temperamental machinery and FDL science

When the machinery mounted to the man-height pole announced “RTK initialized,” the scientists gave a cheer. It was late afternoon and the morning’s downpour had finally cleared. They were gathered in a sunny spot discussing what was still on the agenda for the day when the rover – the pole and its paramount differential GPS […]

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

Dalton Highway Trans Alaska Pipeline.

Acceleration, and age-old frozen debris lobes

Less than one mile upslope from Alaska’s Dalton Highway, there are 23 frozen debris lobes looming. Frozen debris lobes (FDLs) are something like a cross between a landslide and a glacier. They’re silty sand and gravel, stones, icy frozen soil as well as liquid water kept from freezing by the intense pressure of the slow-motion push downhill. […]

Imnavait Creek water tracks

Snow’s journey underground

In Alaska’s North Slope snow can be called overeager. Scientists at Toolik Field Station know that —except for the second half of August— they can expect it to snow any day of the year. Even during the brief summer, fierce storm fronts sometimes bring snow that melts away in 70°F (21°C) weather the very next […]