Alaska Science Forum

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August 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Using the tiniest of clues, scientists have determined what probably killed the woolly mammoths of St. Paul Island — thirst. “It looks like climate did them in,” said Matthew Wooller, the UAF scientist who in 2013 went to St. Paul as part of a diverse team and brought back lake cores for analysis. “The smoking gun looks like access to freshwater resources was the coups de gras.” Wooller and other...
August 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
For all the descriptive Alaska place names out there — like the Grand Canyon, the Wall of China and the three Death Valleys — there are some that make you wonder. Elephant Point is just south of the Arctic Circle on a tundra peninsula north of Buckland. Village residents are at Elephant Point right now, living at their fish camps and catching salmon. Elephant Point was the site of a village where...
August 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
OUTSIDE THE UA MUSEUM OF THE NORTH — "Look, it's a crab spider eating a moth!" says Declan Griswold, an 8-year-old who points to a rose bush. "You're right, it's a true spider, an orb weaver, just like the kind in Charlotte's Web," says Derek Sikes, head of the entomology collection at the UA Museum of the North. He and his wife Melissa are leading a group of 18 elementary-school-age kids in the...
July 18, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
COS JACKET — On a canoe trip down the lower Tanana River, we've scrambled up a sandy bank to explore a place that is less populated now than it was a century ago. No one, in fact, lives at Cos Jacket anymore. There is a cabin-size cache with a tin roof. A few sagging log structures sit on a ledge overhanging the Tanana. One of the cabins has lost its door and front wall to the river. Its fallen...
July 7, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
ZITZIANA RIVER — Fishing at the spot where this long, squiggly stream mixes with a floury channel of the Tanana River, Alison Beamer feels a thump. Line squeals from her spinning reel as a creature as long as her arm flashes beneath the surface. After a few runs east and west, the fish tires, becoming still beneath the clear surface. Beamer's canoe-mate Jason Clark nets and dispatches the fish....
July 1, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
LOWER TANANA RIVER — On a day like this 121 years ago, a hungry U.S. Army explorer passed here at the mouth of Fish Creek, where clear water collides with the cloudy Tanana. Henry Allen did not stop to fish. He had food, and further exploration, on his mind as he and his party paddled by in a skin boat. We have stopped our canoes, squirted on insect repellant and cast lures hoping for pike or...
June 23, 2016
By
Ned
A person might think that since we get our maximum sunlight on the summer solstice (on or about June 21), we should also get our peak warmth then. The sun’s calling the shots, right? Not entirely, said former Alaskan Martha Shulski, author of "The Climate of Alaska" and now climatologist for the state of Nebraska. “Alaska is warmest a few weeks after the solstice,” she said. A lag exists between...
June 17, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
Interior Alaska is a hungry place — lots of boreal forest and swampy wetlands with big, flat rivers winding through. Wildlife sightings, especially of big mammals, are rare. But a recent video posted by a seismologist makes the Tanana River flats look like the Serengeti. A motion-triggered game camera installed above buried instruments shows visits from coyotes, snowshoe hares, lynx, moose and...
June 13, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
While sitting in the front of a canoe on a twisty Alaska creek, my daughter asked to steer closer to the riverbank. She wanted to grab some suds. There, caught in the elbows of fallen trees, were quivering mounds of white foam. Foam is floating on most Alaska waterways this summer. Years ago, when I first saw yellowish suds on a creek that ran behind my cabin, I thought of something manmade and...
June 2, 2016
By
Ned Rozell
I once wrote about how fire had ravaged more than 10 percent of Interior Alaska during two smoky summers. A wildlife biologist called me out for choosing an inadequate verb. Tom Paragi chooses words that are more positive when he looks at a burned forest. Paragi works with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Fairbanks. His specialty is the ecology of disturbances to the boreal forest, among...