Climate change geese measuring carbon greenhouses gasses Yukon Delta

Carbon dioxide, geese and greenhouse gasses

“The effects of climate change are are really complex,” and “There are a number of changes that are happening together that are going to ultimately affect how ecosystems operate,” Kathy Kelsey, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Alaska Anchorage, told Frontier Scientists. Kelsey and colleagues are studying changes in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta (YKD) of western […]

Starving trees and the boreal forest

“There are many many factors there. And we can only make rational policy decisions if we know how the system works.” Bjartmar Sveinbjornsson is a professor of biological sciences and the director of the Environment and Natural Resources Institute at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He’s hosted two student as part of the National Science […]

Boreal Forest Growth videos released

On FrontierScientists.com, watch new videos featuring Boreal Forest Research in Alaska: ‘Why So Small?‘, ‘How Tree Needles Age‘, and ‘What Are Stomata?‘. “It isn’t just the climate impacting the vegetation but the vegetation impacting the climate,” Bjartmar Sveinbjornsson explained. “As the globe warms up are the forests going to spread and are they going to […]

Hovering UAVs over sea otters

“Do you want lots of kelp forests? Than you want sea otters in your system.” “A kelp forest is a forest; it’s like you’re flying through a redwood forest.” Brenda Konar, professor in marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, both dives and teaches divers to handle cold […]

The future for thawing permafrost on Alaska’s North Slope

Permafrost, subsurface soil that remains frozen throughout the year, can be found on Alaska’s North Slope and in places across the Arctic. “The temperature of permafrost is rapidly changing,” said Vladimir Romanovsky, Geophysics professor and head of the Permafrost Laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute. In the very near past when Vladimir […]

Beaufort Sea Arctic Sea Ice Field Science Coring

Standing on the Beaufort Sea – new sea ice videos

Whether from the perspective of a helicopter pilot, a research scientist, or a local whale hunter, sea ice is an impactful part of Arctic life. Visit Frontier Scientists to watch new videos: ‘Barrow Ready Waiting‘, ‘Buoys On Ice‘, ‘Standing on the Beaufort Sea‘, and ‘First Year Or Multi Year Ice‘. Geophysicist Andy Mahoney, assistant research […]

Scraping the bottom with sea ice

“It was coming here to Barrow and going to the sea ice north of here that kept me focused on sea ice for the last 15 years,” Andy Mahoney told Frontier Scientists. Mahoney is a sea ice geophysicist and University of Alaska Fairbanks assistant research professor in geophysics. Thick sea ice Level sea ice might […]

Inconstant sea ice

“If you’re coming to the Arctic, bring a good book.” Andy Mahoney, sea ice geophysicist and assistant research professor in geophysics, University of Alaska Fairbanks, was waiting out bad weather so he and his team could travel by helicopter over sea ice. Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States, is surrounded by the […]

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 […]

Ice and fire and permafrost

May 20 2015, 9pm in Alaska, tune in to KAKM Science Wednesdays, Alaska Public Media, for Frontier Scientists’ CHANGING PERMAFROST. Under the tundra thawing Permafrost forms thermokarst features, causing sinkholes and landslides. Shifting climate conditions release greenhouse gases locked beneath the tundra in previously frozen ground. The episode features University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute […]

Leftover Lunch for Microbes

A needle on lab equipment wavers as the machine tracks precise changes in carbon dioxide concentrations in a sample. Water flows through tubes. In every droplet of water there might be a million microbes swimming, feeding. It’s a zoo in there. University of Michigan researchers Dr. Collin Ward, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Earth […]

Impact and the Arctic

Arctic changes have global impacts. This month the United States assumes chairmanship of the Arctic Council, a forum which promotes intergovernmental cooperation in the Arctic region. The U.S. will chair the council from 2015 to 2017. In conjunction a booklet titled Arctic Matters: The Global Connection to Changes in the Arctic has been released. The […]

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 […]

water sample science Sagavanirktok River Alaska

Testing Alaska’s Sagavanirktok and Kuparuk rivers

“We are interested in studying what happens to this material as it makes its way to the ocean… The transformations that it undergoes.” Jason Dobkowski, lab manager in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Michigan, explained his work as he crouched on treacherous muddy ground to collect water at a […]

Dobkowski sampling brown water

Tea water in Arctic rivers– carbon pathways

At the turn of the season as snow and ice melt, Alaska’s waterways open up. “This is the highest this river will be this season,” Jason Dobkowski said. “Here is this giant flush of particulate and nutrients that flow through the river. So we are trying to make sure we sample at this big flush […]

Hallo Bay Sunset Katmai NPS

Mercury, cod, and climate change

It’s hard to imagine stalking the shores of Alaska hunting with spear or net more than four millennia ago. Harder still to know that the people living in that already-harsh time faced an even more insidious threat than hunger or the fierce elements. New archaeological findings show elevated levels of toxic mercury in Pacific Cod […]

Young mountains versus CO2

Considering that the research site was a lake 62 miles north of the Arctic Circle in northeast Siberia, Russia, I didn’t think the topic would turn to mountains. Yet I’ve found a new love for mountains. Everything is interconnected. Lake E project Lake El-gygytgyn sits in a crater that formed 3.6 million years before present […]

Lake E impact breccia core

Wiggles and stacks: Paleoclimate 101

Imagine standing on the top floor of the Empire State Building. Above you, the frigid ice-capped waters of a lake in Siberia. Below you sits nearly a quarter of a mile of lake sediment resting atop impact breccia, a layer of rock formed when a meteorite slammed into Earth 3.6 million years ago. Graph wiggles […]

Never Alone – Iñupiat storytelling with spirit

A young girl named Nuna aims carefully, flinging her bola at the shards of ice lingering in the windy sky above. The spirits answer. A crane appears: mysterious, beautiful, perhaps even sorrowful. Is it sorrowful for Nuna? I can’t say, but I know I’m entranced. Nuna is the heroine in Never Alone, a game crafted to […]

Squirrels’ role in climate change puzzle

Alaska’s North Slope is home to Arctic ground squirrels. Near the Atigun River their interlaced burrow network takes advantage of sandy soil. The burrows are so interconnected and the entrances so myriad that the scientists working there to decode Arctic ground squirrel mysteries carry a map denoting burrow entrance numbers so they can be certain […]

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 […]

Where are the nests migratory bird science

Fitness for birds in warming Alaska

Jonathan Perez stands in a remote part of Alaska’s North Slope while White-Crowned Sparrows sing from surrounding shrubs and a Jaeger flies overhead, calling. Perez is listening to the bird calls, recording what species sound out and how many individuals are singing. Next to him, an automated device is attempting to do the same.

NOAA phytoplankton samples

The albatross and the phytoplankton

An albatross soaring over the wide open ocean doesn’t just rely on chance sightings of prey; it actually follows its nose. Dimethyl sulfide (DMS) is a biological sulfur compound that can result from the activity of microorganisms called phytoplankton. Not only does airborne DMS provide a wind-map for foraging seabirds, it also also aids in […]

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.

Alaska research insects vacuuming

Mosquito netting, vacuum power, and bug science

Vacuuming at home isn’t too edifying. How about vacuuming the Alaska tundra to snag a bag full of bugs? That’s an entirely different story. Ashley Asmus, graduate research assistant at the University of Texas at Arlington, is using a huge reverse leaf blower to collect the bugs she’ll study.

Longspur capture bird

Stressed out? Every year migratory birds battle stress, and win

On the tundra a wire walk-in trap has been placed over seed scattered atop icy Alaskan ground. A Longspur alights nearby. It twists its head to eye the seed, hops inside then briefly flaps – unsettled by the trap door closing behind it. The Longspur settles and eyes the ground again, beginning to peck. PhD student Jesse Krause, a researcher […]

white-crowned sparrow Alaska

Thousands of kilometers north – migratory birds and a shifting world

The Arctic is blanketed in snow for 9 to 10 months of the year. Then in May or June, with the Sun shining long overhead, snow melt comes sudden. Mathew Sturm, professor of Geophysics, University of Alaska, Geophysics Institute says the world of the Arctic can go from “White to dark in a space of […]

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. […]

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 […]

snowy owl flight over snow

Snowy Owl Irruption

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – This winter snowy owls were on the move; unusually large numbers of the magnificent birds made their way to the Lower 48 United States. With a wing span greater than four feet and distinctive plumage, snowy owls are a glorious sight. The birds’ winter migrations normally take them to […]

Tram Powered International Tundra Experiment

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – Multiple instruments, configured along a tram-like platform, sense the tundra below and gather detailed data while traveling along a 50 meter transect.  “We are gathering measurements that we don’t know exactly how they will be used,” said Steven Oberbauer, professor of biological sciences at Florida International University. The high […]

Feeling the heat? 2013 fourth warmest year on record

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – The year 2013 was the fourth warmest year on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climate Data Center. 2013 tied with 2003 in NOAA’s record, which details global average temperatures all the way back to the year 1880. NOAA notes: “Including 2013, 9 of the […]

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 […]

Julie Brigham-Grette Martin Melles

Inter-hemispheric climate coupling

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Paleoclimatology is the study of past climates. One of the many ways to study paleoclimatology is to collect a 2.5 inch [6.6 centimeter] wide tube of mud from a well-situated site. It’s amazing how much we can learn of Earth’s climate past – and what those findings teach us […]

Lake El'gygytgyn satellite space Russia

Data from an impact crater

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – There’s a place in Northeast Russia where, 3.6 million years ago, a meteorite slammed into Earth. A lake filled the crater. Today, the sediment that has settled at the bottom of Lake El-gygytgyn provides a rare preserved climate record: the longest sediment core record ever collected on land in […]

surface hoar crystal snow ice

Cryoseisms and depth hoar in the January cold

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Cold hit hard this month. January 6 and 7, 2014, brought startlingly frigid temperatures to southern Canada and the United States, weather that swept through the Midwest and then eastward. The U.S. National Weather Service recorded widespread subzero temperatures; on January 7th over fifty U.S. sites measured record low […]

Alaskan tundra plants

Nitrogen’s intense impact

Nitrogen is one of the most abundant elements on Earth; nitrogen gas (N2) makes up 78% of Earth’s atmosphere. Nitrogen is also an essential element for all organisms. In order to live and grow, plants and animals need the hydrogen (H) and oxygen (O) which compose water, as well as carbon (C), nitrogen (N) and […]

Alaska in the 2013 Arctic turmoil

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – “The Arctic is not like Vegas. What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic. The major changes that we see in reduction in sea ice, reduction in spring snow cover extent, increasing vegetation that changes the radiation balance of the surface, potential changes in greenhouse gas fluxes, […]

Antarctic pancake ice

Against the odds Antarctic sea ice is growing– here’s why

“On any given day, sea ice cover in the oceans of the polar regions is about the size of the U.S.,” Thorsten Markus reminds us. He’s a research scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. “Far-flung locations like the Arctic and Antarctic actually impact our temperature and climate where we live and work on a […]

cross country skiing Alaska

Trapped in a cracked snow globe

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Snowball fights. Snow angels and lovely ice sculptures. You can truck across it or ski through it. Snow might be a heavy reality you shovel every day, or a glittering crystalline landscape far away. Or both. Whatever snow means to you, it means something much more complex to the […]

ice core drill

Proxy data from past climates

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – We can’t use time machines to go back and take the Earth’s temperature during ancient times, yet we need past records of climate data to help calculate Earth’s history, where we are now, and what our planet will look like going forward. Paleoclimatology studies ancient climates with the use […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Alfredo Soto holds lemming

Humble lemmings are an Arctic keystone species

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Arctic temperatures are warming at twice the rate of lower latitudes’, making the area one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth. Arctic ecosystems are facing radical alteration. And, surprisingly, a tiny furry rodent may be a major player in those changes. Lemming populations have a powerful impact on […]

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, […]

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 […]

VIIRS as an Arctic Nightlight

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – During winter in the Arctic it’s “night” almost all the time, but thanks to the new Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) Day/Night Band (DNB) we no longer have to be in the dark about what’s going on with the weather.  Here is a VIIRS/DNB image of the Alaska […]

Plants march north

Laura Nielsen for FrontierScientists The face of the Arctic is changing as plant growth flourishes further north than before. According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), “Temperature and vegetation growth at northern latitudes now resemble those found 4 degrees to 6 degrees of latitude farther south as recently as 1982.” This change accompanies […]

Aniakchak volcanic caldera from above

Arctic volcanism helps date ancient archaeological sites

“By dating ash,” said Richard Vanderhoek, “An archaeological site in Alaska, can be placed on a chronostratographic timeline.” Or in other words: the chemical makeup of the ash, matched with a volcano eruption, will provide an approximate date of the site. Archaeologists worldwide have dated ancient sites

Algae in the changing Arctic ecosystem

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists The Arctic hosts a complex ecosystem, sensitive to the alterations in our changing world. Algae is part of that biome, growing in strands which hang down from the edge of ice floes. New conditions have caused an explosion in the growth rate of the algae Melosira arctica, which will influence […]

Fairbanks winter day temperature smoke pollution Alaska

Alaska bucks the global temperature trend

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – This just in: 2012 was the coldest year of the new century in Fairbanks, and the second coldest here in the last 40 years. Fairbanks isn’t the only chilly place in Alaska. Average temperatures at 19 of 20 long-term National Weather Service stations displayed a cooling trend from 2000 to […]

walrus - lone

A Walrus at the Edge of the Ice

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists Sea ice is the foundation of an entire Arctic ecosystem. Algae flourishes where the ice is active, providing sustenance for hordes of zooplankton. Birds feed on schools of small fish sustained by the zooplankton. There are species of seabirds which live here and nowhere else, and others whose natural rhythms […]

permafrost Atlas of the Cryosphere map (NSIDC) (NASA)

Carbon in permafrost and tomorrow’s atmosphere

Carbon is the building block of life. Our knowledge of current climate change, however, has us counting how much carbon enters the atmosphere. We burn fossil fuels, adding anthropogenic (human-caused) carbon dioxide to the air. Meanwhile, natural processes also add carbon to the air. We know that methane can arise from warming lakes and oceans. Methane traps […]

Bison Bob steppe bison skull

Bison Bob a big discovery on the North Slope

As she scraped cold dirt from the remains of an extinct bison, Pam Groves wrinkled her nose at a rotten-egg smell wafting from gristle that still clung to the animal’s bones. She lifted her head to scan the horizon, wary of bears that might be attracted to the flesh of a creature that gasped its […]

Bowhead Whale fluke

Triumphs of the endangered Bowhead Whale

Each spring, wildlife biologist Craig George stands where shore-bound sea ice meets open water at Point Barrow and counts whales. Barrow Alaska is the northernmost town in the united states. The lookout point, accessed daily via snowmobile, is no more than a canvas windbreak atop a pile of ice. Warming spring temperatures thin and break […]

archaeology Alaska North Slope mesa

Climate change and the people of the mesa

Alaska was once the setting for an environmental shift so dramatic it forced people to evacuate the entire North Slope, according to Michael Kunz, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management. About 10,000 years ago, a group of hunting people lived on the North Slope, the swath of mostly treeless tundra that extends north […]

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 […]

Guillemots, and the Edge of the Ice

Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists The Bering Sea region hosts over 90% of seabirds breeding in the continental United States. Most of those birds are hardy migrators, breeding on Alaska’s coast in the warm season and then departing south, chased away by the cold weather. One group which remains is Guillemots, a type of seabird […]

Birds Hall Island Alaska

A far-off place, all for the birds

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – HALL ISLAND — On this windy, misty August day, there are perhaps one million birds clinging to the cliffs that buttress this Bering Sea island. These seabirds, crazy-eyed and with bodies both sleek and clumsy, need solid ground for just a few months to hold their eggs. When their summer […]

A Portal to Toolik Field Station

Laura Nielsen for FrontierScientists We know that the Arctic holds unique climate conditions and a complex carbon balance. Tundra fires and thawing permafrost release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, while unique ocean currents and cold waters prompt higher levels of ocean acidification. Methane emerges from sea and soil. The Arctic sea ice cover shrinks to increasingly startling extents. Plant life […]

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 […]

Cray Inc. provides “Fish” for Arctic Region Supercomputing Center (ARSC).

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – Fairbanks, Alaska, October 2, 2012 – “As Alaska’s Research University UAF (University of Alaska Fairbanks) must continue to provide the best tools, ARSC is one of the most important tools available,” said Brian Rogers, Chancellor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. And the Arctic Region Supercomputing Center’s new tool […]

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 […]

International Polar Week and Climate Predictions in Ice

Laura Nielsen for FrontierScientists – This week is International Polar Week, September 16 – 22, 2012. The event coincides with the Fall Equinox, when 12 hours of daylight will light every location on the planet. Polar Week aims to involve the public with research going on in the Artic and Antarctic through educational activities and […]

Modeling Arctic Waters from the Bering Sea through the Bering Strait to the Arctic Ocean

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – Fairbanks, Alaska, September 4, 2012 – Three videos introduce the oceanographic modeling work from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF). The video Modeling Ice in the Arctic, shows a regional ice model coupled with a global climate model.  “The ice is not as stiff as it used to be,” said Kate […]

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 […]

Arctic lakes getting a closer look

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but Alaska has more than that in the great expanse of flatlands north of the Brooks Range. These ubiquitous far-north bodies of water — most of them formed by the disappearance of ancient, buried ice that dimples the landscape as it thaws — […]

Making sea ice 300 miles from the ocean

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – Marc Mueller-Stoffels unscrews the top of a glass jar and invites a visitor to smell the powder inside. A sniff evokes the image of kayaking Prince William Sound or walking a beach in Southeast. “We call it ‘Instant Ocean,’” he says, returning the lid to the jar. Mueller-Stoffels, a doctoral […]

Thermokarst Project

Survey: Abrupt permafrost thaw increases climate threat

Marie Gilbert for UAF Cornerstone – As the Arctic warms, greenhouse gases will be released from thawing permafrost faster and at significantly higher levels than previous estimates, according to survey results from 41 international scientists published in the Nov. 30 issue of the journal Nature. Permafrost thaw will release approximately the same amount of carbon […]

Alaska creatures without us

In Alan Weisman’s book, The World Without Us, the author ponders “a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.” In last week’s column, a few experts discussed the fate of Alaska structures if Alaskans were to disappear. This week, people who study Alaska’s wildlife donate some thought to the subject. Alaska’s lack of people […]

“This is not what we expected” said Julie Brigham-Grette in video describing work at Lake El’gygytgyn

July 10, 2012– “To this point no one has much of any terrestrial record anywhere in the Arctic older than 125,000 years ago” said Julie Brigham-Grette, University of Massachusetts Amherst as she describes findings from the Lake El’gygytgyn (or Lake E) project to Office of Polar Programs Board Meeting at the National Science Foundation. Brigham-Grette […]

Geologic methane seeping from thawing cryosphere

Geologic methane is seeping through the edges of thawing permafrost and receding glaciers in Alaska and Greenland, according to a study recently published in the journal Nature Geoscience. University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher Katey Walter Anthony led the study, which, for the first time, documents the widespread occurrence of these terrestrial sources of geologic methane […]

Unmanned Aircraft: Arctic science & technology

Speeding over Arctic sea ice, small remote-controlled aircraft snag video footage and high-definition shots of endangered Steller Sea Lions in their natural habitat. Quiet and unobtrusive, the machines can serve as Special Op.s for researchers. Low-altitude remote sensing using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) has vast potential… and we’re only beginning to explore it. Gregory Walker, […]

Wind-aided birds on their way north

After flying northward from Chile, a whimbrel landed in late March in an alfalfa field near Mexicali, Mexico. The handsome shorebird with a long curved beak left its wintering ground in South America one week earlier and flew more than 5,000 miles. Nonstop. In one of the great migrations happening all over the world right […]

Sunken Treasure under Lake El’gygytgyn

Deep under a frozen lake in Siberia, Russia, lies a researcher’s gold: an astounding record of past climates preserved in untouched layers of lake bed sediment. In 2009 an international team of scientists headed to Lake El’gygytgyn (pronounced El’geegitgin). They perched specialized drilling equipment atop the icy lake surface and drilled down. At the bottom […]

Recovery after world’s largest tundra fire raises questions

Four summers ago, Syndonia Bret-Harte stood outside at Toolik Lake, watching a wall of smoke creep toward the research station on Alaska’s North Slope. Soon after, smoke oozed over the cluster of buildings. “It was a dense, choking fog,” Bret-Harte said. The smoke looked, smelled and tasted like what Bret-Harte has experienced at her home […]

Two new videos about computational science: Modeling Climate and Designing Supercomputers.

Liz O’Connell for Frontier Scientists – Fairbanks, Alaska, April 3, 2012 – “An artist that discovers a new process or new material­– the same thing is happening in computation.  People are constantly embarking on new discoveries; that’s what gets people excited about science,” said Greg Newby, Arctic Region Supercomputing Center director at the University of […]

Far-north permafrost cliff is one of a kind

Ned Rozell for UAFGI – In northern Alaska, an amphitheater of frozen ground is thawing where a northern river is cutting it, exposing walls of ice. The feature, known by scientists as “yedoma,” is the largest of its kind yet found in Alaska. Jim Helmericks, who lives with his wife Teena on the mouth of the […]

History in ice, a Paleo-Eskimo excavation

Does watching the archaeologists featured in Paleo-Eskimo videos hard at work– peeling away earth, getting excited over discovering an artifact– summon feelings of jealousy for anyone else? It does for me. The three archaeologists are working to uncover truths 4,000 years old. Situated in Gates of the Arctic National Park, their dig site reveals an […]