Bond, The Blob and Better Understanding Climate Change

For a class in the journalism and communications department at the University of Alaska Anchorage, climatologist Nicholas (Nick) Bond gave a presentation on his work and, more specifically, his studies on a large mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean, known as “The Blob.” Bond, with the University of Washington, first coined the unusual […]

The Four Letter Word for Ocean Climate Change

Washington State climatologist, Nick Bond, cemented his legacy when he described the new persistent warm ocean water as the blob. The term, coined while Bond was participating in a weekly KUOW radio segment, has appeared in media organizations all over the nation, partly because it sounds cute, but also because of its climate implications. “I […]

Anomaly in Pacific Ocean Related to West Coast Warm Weather

Something unusual happened off the West Coast in the Pacific Ocean, a warm patch of water referred to as “the blob.” Nick Bond, state climatologist for Washington and researcher for the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, coined the term in 2014. He describes the blob as a circular area of […]

‘The Blob’ and how it affects Alaska

In the winter of 2014, a patch of ocean in the Gulf Alaska became much warmer than usual. This occurred due to a persistent area of higher than normal pressure. Over the next two years, the patch increased in size and affected the marine life around it. Nick Bond inadvertently coined the term “the blob” […]

Cascading Effect – Arctic Report Card 2016

“We’ve seen a year in 2016 in the Arctic like we’ve never seen before,” reported Jeremy Mathis, Director of NOAA’s Arctic Research Program. Mathis presented the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Arctic Report Card for 2016, the newest installment of an annual peer-reviewed report summarizing changing conditions in the Arctic. Mathis: “The report card this […]

A green system of carbon-dioxide removal

Last week, I wrote about a thought experiment proposed by Fairbanks scientist Jim Beget. He suggests raining down crystals of a compound that captures carbon dioxide onto a frigid plateau in Antarctica. There, the greenhouse gas might remain locked for a few hundred thousand years. Beget will present his idea at the fall meeting of […]

Call to act on climate at Anchorage GLACIER conference

It’s impressive when President Obama visits your home base— Anchorage. And you know something important is happening when two cabinet members, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, top level white house officials, foreign dignitaries, Alaskan Republican senators, and rural Alaskan officials all converge. It’s CLIMATE CHANGE. The Department of […]

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 […]

atmosphere earth interactions

Precautions amidst uncertainty

“The question is not ‘do we know everything?’ it is ‘do we know enough?’ or ‘how can we best make a decision using what we do know?’ ~ Sense About Science publication: ‘Making Sense of Uncertainty’ In cities where heat waves are already becoming more frequent or more intense, the installation of heat watch warning […]

painted box turtle lillypads

What I learned this Earth Day, 2014

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – In the summer I drive to my favorite of many nearby glacial lakes, a deep down-turned gumdrop of cool water ringed in lillypads. I catch painted box turtles. After a frenetic chase and what feels like too long without air I surface gasping, and marveling at each turtle’s personality. […]

smoke layer temperature inversion

Atmospheric layers driving accelerated far North warming

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Recent research published in Nature Geoscience states that the largest contributors to warming in the Arctic are the region’s distinct surface temperatures coupled with the Arctic atmosphere’s prevailing vertical temperature structure. The research suggests that diminished snow and melting ice cover, previously thought to have the largest impact on […]

A new interchange for scientific solutions to real world problems

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – The American Geophysical Union, a nonprofit organization of geophysicists –Earth and space scientists– has launched a new initiative to help communities solve modern-day problems. The Thriving Earth Exchange gives normal people the chance to ask pressing questions and benefit from scientific research and expertise. Communities enhance their readiness to […]

global deforestation 2000-2012 map

Learning our forests from space– mapping deforestation and regrowth

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – “Every day, Landsat satellites provide essential information for land managers and policy makers to support wise decisions about our resources and environment in the places we live and work.” (NASA) Matthew Hansen, University of Maryland, and co-author Thomas Loveland, U.S. Geological Survey, released an unprecedented record of global deforestation […]

helicopter wildfire burn plant recovery

Beating the burn: tundra recovery after the 2007 Anaktuvuk River fire

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – “The same kind of vegetation that was there before the fire are the same ones we’re seeing in the recovery. Some plants though, like lichens, take longer.” The information comes from Syndonia Bret-Harte, a researcher studying the fire scar left after 2007’s Anaktuvuk River fire near Alaska’s Brooks Range. […]

whale watching post ice

A continent of ice on the wane

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Despite taking up as much space as Australia, the blue-white puzzle of ice floating on the Arctic Ocean is an abstraction to the billions who have never seen it. But continued shrinkage of sea ice is changing life for many living things. A few Alaska scientists added their observations to […]

forest fire wildfire trees

Wildfires across our hot planet

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Wildfires are a hungry, terrible and complex force which we’ve long struggled to live alongside. Smoke and particulate matter from wildfires can travel thousands of miles, lowering air quality and causing health impacts. Local fires risk lives, and fire damage costs millions or more to repair. And now, conditions […]

Baffin Bay Greenland iceberg overview

Ice restrains the floodgates

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – There’s a new Titanic under construction: a grandiose ocean liner, maiden voyage set for 2016. The Australian billionaire undertaking the project intends Titanic II to be a near-perfect replica of the original RMS Titanic, the ill-fated steamship which sank in 1912 after striking an iceberg. The disaster claimed over 1,500 lives. […]

zonal polar jet stream

Under pressure: Arctic trends sparking extreme weather at large

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists In September 2012, at the end of last summer, the Arctic sea ice extent reached a record low since satellite measurements began. And, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, summer sea ice extent in the Arctic has declined roughly 40 percent in the last three decades. The […]

Dark Side of Carbon aerosols distribution

Tiny aerosol particles, big global impacts

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists Tiny particles suspended in the air, present in the air we breathe and in the highest reaches of the atmosphere, are called aerosols. And those aerosols, though relatively short-lived, have a huge impact on global climate change. In fact, much of the atmospheric warming observed since 1976 in the Arctic, […]

Columbia Glacier breakup satellite 2010

Eyes on Columbia Glacier’s retreat

The Landsat mission, a joint effort between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), has been collecting data on Earth’s physical features via satellite since the 1970s. “The Landsat data record — humanity’s longest continuous record of our planet from space — has been an invaluable tool for scientists and decision-makers in […]

polar stratospheric clouds ozone creation

Ozone loss and recovery in the Arctic

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists The ozone hole is a problem which plagues the skies above Antarctica. Yet in 2011, Arctic skies experienced the most severe ozone depletion ever measured in the north. The reasons why are now explained in a paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres headed by lead author Susan E. Strahan, an atmospheric scientists […]

Gordon Dam Australia

New insights: global warming drivers in the 20th century and beyond

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists Researchers have combed through the last 2,000 years of climate records. Their assessment affirms that a persistent long-term cooling trend concluded in the late 19th century, reversed by global warming. The study was performed by members of the “2K Network” of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP) Past Global Changes […]

Burned Alaska may cause more burned Alaska

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – The blackened scars that Alaska fires leave on the landscape may result in more lightning, more rain in some areas just downwind of the scars, and less rain farther away, according to two scientists. Nicole Mölders and Gerhard Kramm, both of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, […]

Clear Sky Albedo

Dust on the sun’s mirror

Imagine yourself on a Colorado mountain slope. Bumblebees buzz happily around dwarf bluebell blossoms, and the spring sun is bright. Except not all is well. The flowers bloom a good seven hundred feet upslope of where they grew five years ago, forcing bees ever higher. Bright petal colors are faded: the flowers are past their […]

Arctic snow cover low

Dramatic report card for the Arctic in 2012

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Northern sea ice is at its lowest extent since we’ve been able to see it from satellites. Greenland experienced its warmest summer in 170 years. Eight of 10 permafrost-monitoring sites in northern Alaska recorded their highest temperatures; the other two tied record highs. 2012 was a year of “astounding” change for much […]

Extreme Weather, Extreme Christmas Tree

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – A Ponderosa Pine grove towers over my house roof.  The 100 foot trees grow naturally and swiftly east of the Cascades in Oregon.  Before Thanksgiving, extreme winds blew over the Cascade mountain barrier and whipped around central Oregon. The night after, I checked my yard from a window—dried pine […]

Ocean Acidification

  Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists Will ocean acidification spell a watery grave for vital parts of marine ecosystems? Marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, named ocean acidification global warming’s “equally evil twin.” * Burning fossil fuels — coal, oil, natural gas — cutting down forests and other post-industrial […]

Alaska’s view of the new sea-ice minimum

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – As the northern end of the globe nods away from the sun at fall equinox, the amount of sea ice floating on the northern oceans is now at the lowest amount ever detected by satellites, a period that goes back to 1979. This new sea-ice minimum follows an extremely cold […]

Fire is a natural part of the boreal forest ecosystem

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – With their mushroom clouds topped with cauliflower crowns, plumes from wildfire smoke are again a common sight in Interior Alaska, which — with barely a sprinkle of rain — just experienced one of the driest Mays in the 100-year written record. Though it’s a normal human reaction to think of […]