Latest Research News and Events

August 24, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy of HAARP, UAF Geophysical Institute</i><br> A red fox tours the antenna array at the High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Gakona.

The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, will host an open house on Aug. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Gakona, Alaska. The facility is managed and operated by the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Scientists around the world use HAARP to study physics in the ionosphere, which is the highest portion of the Earth’s atmosphere. The open house will allow people to see the facility up close and learn from experts about the research that happens at HAARP. There will be tours of the operations building and the antenna array. In addition, scientists will give talks about the science behind HAARP, and there will be family-friendly, science-based activities. The event is free and open to the public. Food will be available for... read more
August 15, 2018

<i>Photo by Suzanne Strom</i><br /> Researchers and crew deploy different kinds of nets off the side of Sikuliaq to collect plankton from the water.

For 20 years, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and collaborators have gathered data along the Seward Line, a set of oceanographic survey stations in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Their goal has been to better understand processes that support the region’s thriving fish, crab, seabird and marine mammal populations. In May 2018, the first expedition of the newly funded Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea. The NGA LTER, funded by the National Science Foundation, used the research vessel Sikuliaq to dig deeper into processes... read more
August 14, 2018

For 20 years, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and collaborators have gathered data along the Seward Line, a set of oceanographic survey stations in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Their goal has been to better understand processes that support the region’s thriving fish, crab, seabird and marine mammal populations. In May 2018, the first expedition of the newly funded Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea. The NGA LTER, funded by the National Science Foundation, used the research vessel Sikuliaq to dig deeper into processes... read more
August 13, 2018

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has chosen Heather Brandon as Alaska Sea Grant’s new director. Brandon is an environmental policy leader with experience in fisheries issues on a broad geographic scale, ranging from Alaska to the Arctic and Russian Far East. The Juneau resident was selected after a competitive national search. “I am very pleased that Heather will take the helm at Alaska Sea Grant,” said Bradley Moran, dean of the UAF College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. “Heather has a solid working knowledge of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s programs, including Sea Grant, and brings a wealth of experience that will be an asset to the Alaska Sea Grant program.” Before joining Alaska Sea Grant, Brandon was a... read more
August 9, 2018

<i>Photo courtesy of Microcosm Film</i><br /> Paul St. Onge and Seth Danielson deploy the Acrobat off the back deck of Sikuliaq.

For 20 years, researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and collaborators have gathered data along the Seward Line, a set of oceanographic survey stations in the Northern Gulf of Alaska. Their goal has been to better understand processes that support the region’s thriving fish, crab, seabird and marine mammal populations. In May 2018, the first expedition of the newly funded Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea. The NGA LTER, funded by the National Science Foundation, used the research vessel Sikuliaq to dig deeper into processes... read more
August 8, 2018

Photo courtesy of Moira O'MalleyFairbanks teacher Moira O'Malley poses in front of the Arctic research ship Akademik Tryoshnikov, which she will live on for the next 55 days.

Download story text here. Oceanographers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center embark this week for a 55-day research expedition in the eastern Arctic Ocean. This year, Fairbanks elementary school teacher Moira O’Malley will join the team. “I am ecstatic about this opportunity,” O’Malley said. O’Malley will write a daily blog, providing updates that are exciting, fun, and written to get youth interested and involved in Arctic research. Her second-graders at Watershed School in Fairbanks will be among many Alaska students and educators following along. Once a week, students will get to ask O’Malley questions about research and life on a 438-foot scientific vessel, the Akademik Tryoshnikov. O’Malley has... read more
August 8, 2018

<i>Photo by Max Kaufman, AVO/UAF GI</i><br /> Seismologist John Power, with the U.S. Geological Survey and the Alaska Volcano Observatory, transfers data from the campaign broadband seismometer AU14 on the northeast flank of Mt. Augustine. A debris fan below the northeast chute is visible in the upper right of the image.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory will upgrade its volcano monitoring network throughout Alaska due to a $12 million budget increase through the U.S. Geological Survey. The observatory, a joint program of the USGS, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys, will replace aging equipment and increase staffing in an effort to both improve detection and warning of volcanic eruptions and understanding of what causes them. “Basically, this is taking us a very big step out of the 1970s and into the modern era,” said Jeff Freymueller, coordinating scientist for the observatory and a geophysics professor at the UAF Geophysical Institute. “The analog equipment that we were... read more
August 7, 2018

<i>Photo by Sarah Spanos</i><br /> Sikuliaq pulls into Seward before departing for the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-Term Ecological Research cruise in May 2018.

New funding and the use of the research vessel Sikuliaq have revolutionized data collection in the Gulf of Alaska by increasing the space and workforce available to conduct complex experiments at sea. With 20 years of research and data to support their efforts, scientists in the Northern Gulf of Alaska Long-term Ecological Research program strive to better understand how physical processes and climate variability influence the base of the food web in the productive northern Gulf of Alaska. Led by researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences and their collaborators, the first LTER research expedition on Sikuliaq concluded in May 2018. This is the first story in a four-part series documenting... read more
July 30, 2018

Larry Hinzman

University of Alaska Fairbanks Vice Chancellor for Research Larry Hinzman has been elected president of the International Arctic Science Committee. IASC is an international scientific organization that was formed in 1990 to encourage and facilitate cooperation throughout the Arctic research community. The nongovernmental institution, which includes representatives from 23 countries, promotes scientific cooperation and gives advice to the Arctic Council and other organizations on Arctic science issues. IASC champions critically important research programs that are either too big for any single nation to undertake or that require international collaboration to be successful. Hinzman’s role as president will be to ensure that the... read more
July 24, 2018

Kim Ovitz gives a presentation in Girdwood, Alaska.

Kim Ovitz’s research on beluga whales on the Kenai Peninsula has recently received international attention. Through her Alaska Sea Grant State Fellowship, Ovitz has been observing belugas whales at the mouth and lower reaches of the Kenai River. Aside from monitoring, Ovitz has also been using qualitative research methods to document local knowledge of marine mammal distribution and ecosystem change in the area. She’s been working under the supervision of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration staff from the Protected Resources Division in Anchorage. Her work was featured by the Peninsula Clarion, a story that was reprinted by the Associated Press, the New York Times and other news outlets. Ovitz’s observations are notable because... read more
July 17, 2018

<i>Photo by Heather McFarland</i><br>Elena Sparrow, at center right, teaches a group of educators about climate change during a June 2018 workshop.

Elena Sparrow was recently honored with a U.S. presidential award for her excellence in science, technology, engineering and mathematics mentoring. Sparrow is a University of Alaska Fairbanks research professor and the education outreach director at the International Arctic Research Center. The award, which includes a $10,000 National Science Foundation grant, recognizes the important role mentors play in the academic and professional development of future STEM professionals. Sparrow was one of 27 individuals chosen for the award and the only recipient from Alaska. “Each day more and more jobs require a strong foundation in STEM education, so the work that you do as teachers and mentors helps ensure that all students can have access to... read more
July 3, 2018

<i>Photo by Jeff Freymueller</i><br /> Lava flows from Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano, which is being studied with help from researchers from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Though Kilauea Volcano is more than 3,000 miles away, researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are helping study the ongoing eruptions there. “When there is a big eruption crisis like this, the (U.S. Geological Survey) pulls their own people from all sorts of different volcano observatories,” geophysics professor Jeff Freymueller said. “A number of our colleagues from the USGS here in Alaska have been sent to Hawaii to help out.” If there was a similar crisis in Alaska, USGS staff from Hawaii would be here to help respond, Freymueller said. “These crises tend to completely overwhelm the staff at any one place, so that’s part of the way that it gets managed.” In addition to USGS volcanologists who work at the Alaska Volcano... read more
July 2, 2018

<i>Photo by H. Sinnok</i><br>This young bearded seal with an amputated flipper was harvested in the Chukchi Sea near Shishmaref for subsistence purposes.

Something new is happening in the cold waters off northern and western Alaska. Unusual injuries such as bite marks and flipper amputations are showing up on seals in the Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea. Ice-associated seals and Steller sea lions appear to be encountering a typically uncommon predator in these waters, according to scientists, hunters and subsistence managers. The likely culprit? Sharks. Several shark species are known to visit the western and northern coasts of Alaska, including sleeper, dogfish, Greenland and salmon sharks.  A variety of northern shark species seem to be following the movements of prey species venturing farther north due to warmer ocean temperatures. That’s according to a group of scientists... read more
July 2, 2018

Bowhead whales

Bowhead whales are the marine mammals most vulnerable to disruption from increased ship traffic in waters off Alaska, a new study has concluded. Across the Arctic, narwhals are the most vulnerable. The study is the first to assess the vulnerability of the seven marine mammal species that could encounter more vessels as the ice-free season expands in Arctic seas. The study, produced by researchers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Washington, was published July 2 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In recent decades, parts of the Arctic seas have become increasingly ice-free in late summer and early fall. As sea ice is expected to continue to recede due to climate change, seasonal ship traffic... read more
June 28, 2018

<i>Photo by Ned Rozell</i><br>A boreal owl chick peers from a birdhouse recently in Fairbanks.

Just beneath the owl box, hung 20 feet up the stem of a balsam poplar, the backyard barbecue continued late into the evening. Despite the thwap of badminton birdies and the chirp of human voices, the boreal owl had work to do. With a vole in its talons, the hand-sized bird perched on a branch outside a wooden box nailed to the tree. After a quick scan of the activity below, the owl bent and grabbed the vole with its beak. It fluttered up, hovered, and slam-dunked the vole through the hole. The owl then disappeared into the shadows of the spruce forest. Scratching noises came from the nest box as the adult female within tore apart the vole into pieces her hatchlings could swallow. Over much of their range, boreal owls operate in the dark... read more