Author Archives: icefogger

About icefogger

Just a basic, down to Earth, laid back type of guy here, who loves the outdoors, the indoors, jazz on the turntable, a fire in the woodstove, the northern lights blazing across the sky, and the company of good friends.

“White Swans Over the Tundra”

Oil on canvas, by Francis Lee Jaques, 1928

Katmai, Alaska; circa 1912

Katmai after the Novarupta Eruption; Photo was taken 9 weeks after the eruption

The eruption of Novarupta on 6 June 1912 was the largest of the 20th Century. The village of Katmai was destroyed in the eruption, buried under as much as 18 inches of volcanic ash.


“Alaskan Dinosaurs” on NOVA

Credit: PBS

New research on the dinosaurs that lived in the area that is now Alaska, will be featured on tonight’s (Wednesday) episode of NOVA.

Using LiDAR to unearth old secrets in the permafrost of Denali National Park in the Interior, and along the banks of the Colville River north of the Arctic Circle, researchers bring evidence of a flourishing community of dinosaurs in the far north.

Dinosaurs AND Alaska; how do you top that?

Check your local listings for showtimes.

Rendition of a herd of duck-billed dinosaurs in Alaska, 70 million years ago.


Mornings with the Moose

I’m ready for my closeup

With the dumping of snow, and especially the layer of freezing rain in-between, moose have had some challenges getting around. Like many of us, they will gravitate towards the route with the least resistance, which puts them on our trails, driveways and outhouse paths.

A moose cow and calf were hanging out before the snow storm, and they have been regulars since. My shoveled paths have become their trails, and the trees in the yard have received a decent trimming.

Things became a bit cozier when the temps dropped into the -35F range a week or so ago. I was laying in bed one morning after the alarm went off, debating the advantage of employment, when I heard a creaking coming from right outside the front door. Looking out the window, I could see a moose standing on the front walk. Actually, I could not see the whole moose, as it was larger than my window frame, but going out to warm up the truck would take some extra precaution.

When I came home that night, I could see the bed the moose made just off my walkway, underneath a large spruce tree. No doubt, it was warmer being up against the cabin like it was. I didn’t mind the sleeping arrangements as much as the several piles of moose droppings, and it was the first time I had ever used ice melt on my walk to break up moose urine.

The next morning, the same thing happened, and I heard the moose get up outside the cabin after the alarm went off.

With the recent rise in temperature, the moose have been sleeping elsewhere, but they still stop by almost daily to trim a few trees.

If moose nuggets were gold…


Hunga Tonga Eruption

An undersea volcano erupted Saturday near the island of Tonga. The satellite imagery above is pretty intense, and the ash plume reached 20km above the earth.

Tsunami alerts were put out almost immediately, and the island of Tongatapu had waves flooding into the capital.

Courtesy of NWS/NOAA

The tsunami reached Alaska’s southern coast this morning, with King Cove recording the highest waves at 3.3 feet.

Air pressure change

That wasn’t the only wave to hit Alaska from the eruption. The shock wave of the event caused a drastic air pressure change over the state as well.

Courtesy of the NWS and NOAA

Can you hear a volcano erupt from almost 6000 miles away? It turns out that you can. Many people, who were up between 3:30-4:00 am on Saturday reported hearing a sonic boom. It’s telling that many Alaskans initially reported being awaken by a large boom, and most of them assumed it was a “moose on the porch”. Various infrasound recorders placed around the state by Alaska Volcano Observatory confirmed that the sound heard was the volcanic pressure wave, not a moose.

I find that absolutely fascinating.

A second eruption pressure wave traveled over Anchorage 19.3 hours after the first wave, traveling in the opposite direction.

As of this writing, details of the damage remained sketchy at best. It is known that waves entered Tonga’s capital, and that a thick layer of volcanic ash was dumped on the island. No deaths have been reported at this time, and it is not known how many islands have seen damage from tsunamis or ash fall. Tonga’s internet service, much like Alaska, is served via undersea cables. It is thought that those cables were damaged in the eruption.

New Zealand has sent military aircraft to Tonga to assess the damage.


Alaskan Swarm

Map credit: AEC

A swarm of earthquakes and aftershocks hit the Aleutian Chain, just past Unalaska, on Tuesday. A couple of foreshocks were detected, then a 6.8 magnitude earthquake – which was the largest of the swarm, followed by a whole series of aftershocks. A dozen of the aftershocks came it at a 4.4 or higher, with one 6.6 magnitude shaker.

According to the Alaska Earthquake Center, the event was a “very unusual, very energetic swarm of earthquakes.”

No major damage was reported, and the earthquakes did not generate any tsunamis.


Jumping the glacier?

The Alaska Cruise Ship Industry is (roughly) forecasting a record 1.6 million tourists in 2022. That would be an increase of 18% over the previous record 1.3 million in 2019.

After two disastrous years due to the pandemic, I can see why the industry is desperate for a good year. But record breaking? That seems like a stretch, and might be a bit premature.

Will people be traveling at that level in 2022? Can the cruise ships, and more importantly, the small coastal businesses find the staff to handle those kind of numbers? 2022 will no doubt remain an interesting travel year within the 49th State.


Enjoy your Polar Vortex

Honestly…

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why the Lower 48 insists on stealing our polar air. Send it back home when the novelty has worn off.

-Alaska


A picture is worth a thousand flakes…


“Moose’s Tooth”

Film Friday:

Photograph by Bradford Washburn; 1958

I am a huge fan of Bradford Washburn’s photography. Here is an image of Moose’s Tooth, which is a 10,000 foot peak near Ruth Gorge in the Alaska Range. Moose’s Tooth is 15 miles southeast of Denali. The first known summit of the peak took place in 1964.