News Archive

April 20, 2017
Skiing to work over a persistent spring snowpack, I looked up to see a large white bird flapping gracefully over the spruce tops. A few gentle honks confirmed it was a tundra swan.   After a long winter when all the large birds were black, it was good to see one of the frontrunners of the billions now winging to Alaska.   Tundra swans can live to be older than 20. Perhaps this bird...
April 13, 2017
More than 700 donors believe in an attempt to recreate the ice age in Siberia. The operators of Pleistocene Park have raised more than $100,000 in a crowdfunding effort to bring bison and yaks to eastern Russia. The creators think the animals will help convert tundra to ancient grasslands that will slow global warming.   An Alaska researcher has visited Pleistocene Park five times. He has...
April 6, 2017
Nine years after it erupted, Kasatochi Island is just beginning to resemble its neighbors. Kasatochi is a speck in the middle of the Aleutian chain between Dutch Harbor and Adak, about 75 miles east of the latter. The volcanic island had no modern history of erupting until August 2008. In a few days that summer, the island changed from the lush green home of a quarter million seabirds to a gray...
March 30, 2017
On a sunny afternoon in Nome, Jeff Oatley stepped off his fat bike. That day, for the first time since before the Super Bowl, he had nowhere to ride tomorrow. On March 7, Oatley, with his wife Heather Best (who rode a few hundred miles of choice trail with him), finished a winter bicycle ride from Skagway to Nome. Despite snowstorms that stalled him on the middle Yukon River for a few days,...
March 23, 2017
Stan Boutin has climbed more than 5,000 spruce trees in the last 30 years. He's fallen only once, and he has often returned to the forest floor knowing if a ball of twigs and moss contained newborn red squirrel pups. Over the years, those squirrels have taught Boutin and his colleagues many things, including their apparent ability to predict the future. Boutin, of the University of Alberta in...
March 16, 2017
People who study animal behavior think they may have found out why wolves hunt in packs — because ravens are such good scavengers. Scientists who watched wolves on Isle Royale in Lake Superior came up with the raven-wolf pack theory after puzzling over a question: Why do wolves hunt in large groups when a single wolf can take down a moose? To find a possible answer, John Vucetich and Rolf...
March 10, 2017
A landmark antenna at the University of Alaska Fairbanks will be removed and replaced by a similar one during spring break week in March 2017. After more than 25 years of service, the pale blue 10-meter dish on the roof of the Elvey Building will retire and will be replaced with a new 9-meter dish. The project also will replace an instrument that had not operated since hardware within the antenna...
March 9, 2017
With dogs' breath fogging the 30-below zero air at their knees, 71 Iditarod mushers steamed their way down the frozen Chena River in Fairbanks on March 6. Upstream, just a few miles behind them, 500 ducks were surviving in a one-mile stretch of open water. You might think the mallards that did not migrate from the subarctic in fall would be skinny and weak, but a UAF graduate student found the...
March 2, 2017
In early March up on the frozen Arctic Coastal Plain, as the wind sculpts snow into drifts, it’s hard to tell northern lakes from surrounding tundra. But lurking deep beneath that flat white world are toothy predators as long as your arm. In pools 60 feet down, lake trout are somehow passing the long winter. A graduate student has sharpened the focus on a familiar species that lives as far south...
February 23, 2017
As another major rainstorm hit California in February, downtown San Francisco surpassed its normal rain total for an entire year. Reservoirs in the high country were spilling over. So ended a five-year drought in the state that some people attributed to human-caused climate change. Those pictures of dried-up California lakes bothered Syun-Ichi Akasofu, who recently gave a talk "The Forthcoming...