The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny...' --Isaac Asimov
That's Funny… random header image

Next stop, Greenland!

March 3rd, 2014 by eric
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Click through to check out my latest adventure: the Greenland Ice Microbiome Project!

greenland-traverse

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The coming extinction of old sea ice

February 22nd, 2014 by eric
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This video shows the disturbing truth hidden in the data, which is that while Arctic sea ice extent (the area of ocean covered by ice) has been declining at 13% per decade (in summer, 3% in winter), the volume and age of the ice have been declining more rapidly. Whereas in 1987 there were extensive areas of the ocean covered by thick, sturdy ice 10 years or older, by 2013 that type of ice is nearly extinct. Most Antarctic sea ice is first-year ice to begin with, so once it is gone from the Arctic it is probably not coming back in our species’ lifetime.

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Woohoo! Astrobiology course approved!

February 13th, 2014 by eric
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abcloud

My Astrobiology course was approved by the Provost, so next spring I will be able to offer MSL294 Astrobiology: Planets, Oceans, and Life at the University of Alaska Fairbanks!!

From the syllabus

Astrobiology is the study of the origins, evolution, and future of life on Earth and elsewhere in the Universe. From humble beginnings as self-replicating chemical systems in primordial oceans to advanced civilizations capable of interplanetary flight, life has survived and thrived on Earth for billions of years. But are we alone? The goal of this course is to discover what scientists have learned about life in the universe while working to answer that question.

MSL 294, Astrobiology, 3+0 credits
Prerequisites: ENGL 111X and one of the following: BIOL 103X, CHEM 103X, GEOS 101X, PHYS 102X.
Study of life in the universe from a transdisciplinary perspective, bringing together insights from physics, astronomy, geology, chemistry, and biology. Topics include the evolution of the universe, planets, oceans and life. Past and present oceans found in the Solar System provide case studies from which to examine the potential for life on and off the Earth. Societal questions related to the origins of life, global climate change, and the possibility of extraterrestrial life will be discussed

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Safe Return to Fairbanks

January 21st, 2014 by eric
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As a winter storm barreled over the North Slope this weekend, the plane that landed in Barrow to pick us up had had to skip over Deadhorse because it was too dangerous to land! Luckily we made it out safely, and here’s proof:

After a week in Barrow, where tomorrow the sun will rise for the first time this year, I was thankful to be back in Fairbanks with lots of light!

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Day 5: Off the Ice

January 17th, 2014 by eric
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Barrow, Alaska
January 17, 2014
-34°C (-30°F), clear, no wind

WINTER STORM WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM THIS
AFTERNOON TO 6 PM AKST SATURDAY…

A WINTER STORM WARNING FOR WIND CHILL AND LOCAL BLIZZARD
CONDITIONS REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 3 PM THIS AFTERNOON TO 6 PM
AKST SATURDAY.

* WIND CHILL…TO 65 BELOW.

* VISIBILITY…NEAR ZERO IN BLOWING SNOW.

* WINDS…NORTHEAST GUSTING TO 30 MPH.

* SNOW…ACCUMULATION 2 INCHES.

* TIMING…COLD WIND CHILLS WILL DEVELOP THIS AFTERNOON. WINDS
WILL INCREASE TONIGHT AND BLIZZARD CONDITIONS WILL DEVELOP AND
CONTINUE THROUGH SATURDAY.

* IMPACTS… VISIBILITY WILL BE VERY POOR AND SNOW WILL
ACCUMULATE INTO DRIFTS. WHITEOUT CONDITIONS SHOULD BE
EXPECTED. TRAVEL AND OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES WILL BE DIFFICULT
EXPOSED FLESH WILL FREEZE IN A SHORT TIME RESULTING IN
FROSTBITE.

Well, a winter storm is brewing and it’s about time to wrap up our on-ice operations.

We’re headed out tomorrow, assuming our flight from Barrow to Fairbanks takes off on schedule.

We’ll spend today finishing up some lab work and packing our equipment.

Late last night on our way back from the lab we noticed the aurora was out, so we got away from the lights and got some nice photos.

The almost full moon was out too, and the way it lit up the landscape was mesmerizing. A very fitting finale for this trip to Barrow.

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