Beneath a sky of stars and hazy aurora, the heat of an October day shimmers upward. The next morning, leaves, moss and tundra plants are woven into a carpet of white frost; a skin of ice creeps over the surface of lakes. Alaska is freezing once again, responding to the planet’s nod away from the […]
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 […]
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.
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 – Jason Dobkowski stands on the shores of Wolverine Lake. His research site is located in the North Slope of Alaska, nestled near the remote foothills of the Brooks Range. “I’m here studying permafrost thaw slump which is depositing silt and material into the lake behind me. And that material, […]
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 – 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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]