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 […]
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.
Even Wacky Weather doesn’t stop bird migration to Alaska. Scientists on the north side of the Brooks Range at Toolik Field Station find the birds which made it over the mountains have located their nests, indicating procreation has begun.
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Plants, evolved to move with the natural rhythms of the world, cannot keep up with the rapid pace of climate change we are facing today. Their ideal habitats are sliding north as the world heats up. Do we get our hands dirty and help move the species most at […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – On a remote island in Norway, deep within an old coal mine sealed behind blast doors, seeds sit in the cold and quiet and wait. They are an insurance against an uncertain future. Our uncertain climate future is altering habitats so swiftly that plants can’t keep up, and we’re […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Every eight days, a Landsat satellite carrying delicate sensing and scanning equipment passes high above wherever you might be on the planet. Data from Landsat mission images records changes on Earth’s surface since 1972, over the last four decades, and it’s freely available to scientists and the public. By visiting […]
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 […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists Deep sea oceans, once believed lifeless, teem with an astounding biodiversity. Where once we knew only speculation and fishermen’s tales, we now have a body of knowledge increasing with data from remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs) and human-occupied submersibles like James Cameron’s Vertical Torpedo. The deep ocean, the last unexplored terrestrial […]
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 […]
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 […]
Laura Nielsen for Frontier Scientists – Encountering a bear in a place still untrampled enough to be called ‘wild’ is an experience completely different than seeing a bear in a human-dominated locale. At least, I always thought so. I’ve visited zoos and admired Black bears and Grizzlies, Polar bears sporting underwater, separated from me by […]