ABOUT Liz O´Connell

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Liz is a media artist and wannabe scientist who loves the Alaskan frontier.


Liz O´Connell: All Posts


Rock sandpipers in Alaska videos

Posted 15 May 2016 by Liz O´Connell

“Typically when a bird gets any ice on their body it’s game over.” But not for rock sandpipers overwintering on the mudflats of Cook Inlet, Alaska. Watch new videos about rock sandpipers on FrontierScientists.com featuring science about avian puffballs surviving and thriving despite enduring ice on feathers and feet. Rock sandpipers in Alaska In Cook Inlet “You can see the mud flat flash-freezing as the tide drops,” described Dan Ruthrauff, wildlife biologist with USGS, Alaska Science Center. Temperatures might be... Read more

Boreal Forest Growth videos

Posted 18 April 2016 by Liz O´Connell

On FrontierScientists.com, watch new videos featuring Boreal Forest Research in Alaska: 'Why So Small?', 'How Tree Needles Age', and 'What Are Stomata?'. "It isn’t just the climate impacting the vegetation but the vegetation impacting the climate," Bjartmar Sveinbjornsson explained. "As the globe warms up are the forests going to spread and are they going to to amplify the problem or counteract the problem? Are they going to lead to cooling or are they going to lead to warming? We don’t... Read more

Arctic UAVs game app

Posted 29 March 2016 by Liz O´Connell

Up for a hands-on game challenge? Navigate a flying quadcopter during stormy Alaska weather, catch the perfect aerial shot of rare wildlife, and uncover trails through rough sea ice, all in the new mobile app game Arctic UAVs. Arctic UAVs is available for download now in the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store. Unmanned aerial vehicles are high-tech flying technological tools. UAVs are on the cutting edge of science. Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/arctic-uavs/id1090492329 Android: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.frontierScientists.arcticUAVs “One of the things I... Read more

Sea otter UAV health checkup

Posted 22 March 2016 by Liz O´Connell

Spying on sea otter activities lets biologists measure populations of other species in the otters' habitat. "It’s just a lot of work to get densities of clams and marine species like that," described wildlife biologist Daniel Monson. To get a better idea of ecosystem health, scientists can use Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology to take a look at what sea otters are eating. Otters explore the sea floor for available food before surfacing to eat their prey. "If the otters... Read more

Trail building potential with UAV maps

Posted 8 March 2016 by Liz O´Connell

“Breaking ice, it’s a community effort. There was a trail of ice that was bulldozed by people with their pick axes,” said Eyal Saiet. Trailblazing the sea ice off Barrow's shore happens every spring. “It can be more than a month’s effort of breaking trail, so anything that can help breaking trail is of value.” “Sea ice is changing so rapidly,” said Dyre Dammann. “How is this directly affecting the people that rely on the ice for subsistence hunting, cultural... Read more

Rafts of birds overwintering in the Bering Sea

Posted 1 March 2016 by Liz O´Connell

Like flecks of pepper on chowder, all of the spectacled eiders on the planet are now gathered amid sea ice and steaming open leads in the Bering Sea. "It's a mass of life in this desolate area," said Matt Sexson, who once rode an icebreaker to see the winter gathering south of St. Lawrence Island. Sexson, a biologist with the USGS Science Center in Anchorage, just handed in a draft of his Ph.D. chapter on the creatures whose wintering place... Read more

Sniffing The Arctic videos are released

Posted 23 February 2016 by Liz O´Connell

Temperatures in the Arctic are warming twice as quickly as the global average. Globally, 2015 was the hottest year on record (reported by NOAA and NASA) and the month of January 2016 saw a new record low level for Arctic sea ice extent (reported by the NSIDC). Sea ice loss alters the solar radiation balance in the Arctic, baring dark ocean water that absorbs the sun's heat instead of reflecting it away. Every fall the Arctic ocean's heat is transferred... Read more

Isotopes in the water cycle story

Posted 19 February 2016 by Liz O´Connell

For the past 20 years, Dr. Jeff Welker, a Fulbright Distinguished US Arctic Chair, has been investigating the water isotope cycle in the Arctic and across all of N America. His US Network for Isotopes in Precipitation (USNIP) and his Alaska Water Isotope Network (AKWIN) are multi-site programs that quantify the means by which the hydrologic cycle operates today, how it may have behaved in the past via ice cores, cave deposit and tree ring analyses and how the water... Read more

Hovering UAVs over sea otters

Posted 4 February 2016 by Liz O´Connell

"Do you want lots of kelp forests? Than you want sea otters in your system." “A kelp forest is a forest; it’s like you’re flying through a redwood forest.” Brenda Konar, professor in marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, both dives and teaches divers to handle cold Alaskan waters. She told Frontier Scientists that a spot off Alaska's Aleutian islands is the best diving around. She favors the dynamic nature of Alaska's... Read more

Seeing sea ice formation

Posted 26 January 2016 by Liz O´Connell

The structure of an ice core tells a story about its life cycle; you can take a look and read it like a timeline. Geophysicist Andy Mahoney, assistant research professor in the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, extracted a sea ice core offshore from Barrow, Alaska. He described how sea ice takes form. When a freeze begins in open water it creates a mixture of grainy ice crystals suspended near the surface of the water, not yet solidified into... Read more