Young mountains versus CO2

Posted 17 February 2015 by Liz O'Connell


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 at the site of a massive meteorite impact. An international team of scientists from the United States, Russia, Germany and Austria converged on Lake E... Read more

Wiggles and stacks: Paleoclimate 101

Posted 11 February 2015 by Liz O'Connell


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 An international team of scientists with the Lake El'gygytgyn Drilling Project is studying a sediment core extracted from the site. The remnants of plants, pollen,... Read more

Aufeis may mark Grayling safe spots

Posted 4 February 2015 by Liz O'Connell


“Who’s eating our fish?!” Heidi Golden posed in her journalistic record of Arctic Research and Exploration studying Arctic grayling. “From the snow tracks we saw, it’s most likely a fox. Other predators in this area might include, birds, wolverine, ermine and wolves.” Golden is an aquatic ecologist and a Ph.D. candidate in the University of Connecticut, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department. She came to Alaska to study Arctic grayling (Thymallus arcticus), especially a population of migratory grayling, which range along... Read more

Never Alone – Iñupiat storytelling with spirit

Posted 30 January 2015 by Liz O'Connell


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 introduce aspects of Alaska Native Iñupiat culture to players across the world. Never Alone was developed in partnership between E-Line Media and the Cook Inlet... Read more

Squirrels’ role in climate change puzzle

Posted 20 January 2015 by Liz O'Connell

Permafrost areas are shown in lavender over light green continents. Darkest lavender represents continuous permafrost, transitioning to discontinuous then isolated permafrost coverage. / Courtesy Cindy Starr, NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

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 to always return squirrels to their home burrows. Arctic ground squirrel lifestyle Why so much interest? Arctic ground squirrels are the only vertebrate known to... Read more

Continued Arctic changes, 2014

Posted 13 January 2015 by Liz O'Connell


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 functional speedometer, four working doors, or air conditioning apart from crank-open windows, but it did have science. The expanse of white cardboard reflected sunlight away... Read more

Precautions amidst uncertainty

Posted 7 January 2015 by Liz O'Connell


"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 systems can prove an inexpensive and effective step to help safeguard human lives. Policy-makers of those cities needn't know precisely how hot it will be... Read more

Serious gaming STEM education

Posted 1 January 2015 by Liz O'Connell

As another ecological disaster struck the simulated Arctic spread across our table top, every player groaned. I'd retained one sea ice card in reserve so I only had to lose one from my marine ecosystem; I tried to jostle the species that had been supported by the lost ice into other positions along still thriving food chains. We were playing EcoChains: Arctic Crisis, and the ecological disasters were pummeling. I moved my belugas elsewhere, and humans transferred to a different... Read more

Defining snow, world class

Posted 23 December 2014 by Liz O'Connell


Winter started out peculiarly. Many Alaskans had no snow to shovel at all. At the same time they could watch news coverage of cars buried by blizzards in the lower 48. The unusual weather conditions were a strange state of affairs for Arctic plants and animals adapted to survive and even thrive in snowy conditions. Lemmings, for instance, require snow pack in which to dig tunnels and hide from predators. Left in the open they would freeze to death; in... Read more

Science Storytelling Workshop at AGU14

Posted 19 December 2014 by Liz O'Connell

Scientists filming at the Science Storytelling Workshop / FrontierScientists

"What does this look like?" "Zombies!" one of the scientists suggested. "Right," the cinematographer agreed. He reinforced the idea of shifting the frame to give the person on camera space for their gaze to travel - 'Lookroom'. He'd noted before that when there's an empty space looming behind a person's back it creates tension. Perhaps a zombie is about to stagger up from behind. Whoever's filming needs to keep in mind framing, or the way that visual elements are placed... Read more