The Juneau Ice Field is located just north of Alaska’s capital city. The ice field covers 1500 square miles, more than a third larger than Rhode Island, and stretches from Alaska across the border into British Columbia. The ice field is home to over 40 large glaciers and more than 100 smaller glaciers. The Juneau Ice Field has been one of the most studied in the world, with the Juneau Ice Field Research Project being conducted annually since 1946.
Taku Glacier, as seen across the Taku River
One of the most talked about glaciers within the Juneau Ice Field has been Taku Glacier. It has been the last advancing glacier within the ice field. It’s “mass balance” has been in the positive; it has been gaining more snow during the coarse of a year than it has lost in melt.
Taku Glacier from the air
Taku is the thickest measured glacier in Alaska. It is considered a high elevation glacier, which has helped it maintain the title of an advancing glacier.
That designation has officially come to an end. With the increasingly warm temperatures that Alaska has been experiencing over the past decade plus, the Taku Glacier is now retreating.
When Taku has calved in the past, it has sent icebergs into the Juneau harbor. Massive calving events would not only send icebergs to Juneau, but also into the Inside Passage.
When Columbia Glacier in Prince William Sound started its retreat, sending icebergs into The Sound, the State of Alaska was forced to create an ice-watch program for oil tankers and cruise ships.
It’s that time of year again. The aurora forecast from UAF’s Geophysical Institute is up and running again. A moderate aurora is being forecast for Thursday, with it being visible directly overhead for Fairbanks, weather permitting.
In Canada, Dawson City, Fort Nelson and Fort McMurray will find the northern lights directly overhead, assuming cloud cover doesn’t obscure viewing.
The aurora will be low on the horizon for Marquette, Michigan and Sundsvall, Sweden.
An equal, but opposite aurora will be taking place in the Southern Hemisphere, as well.
The Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks puts out their geomagnetic forecast daily.
Four members of the Frozen Foursome+ made the pilgrimage to Toronto to visit the Hockey Hall of Fame during the off day of the college tournament. The Hall was established in 1943; it has been in its current location since 1993.
Dedicated to Mr Hockey
Currently, there is an exhibit honoring #’s 9 & 99: Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky. A nice video tribute on both of the legendary players, as well as exhibits highlighting their connection.
One section of the Wayne Gretzky exhibit
One can not argue with the contribution both made to the game of hockey: Mr Hockey & The Great One.
Hobey Baker’s induction plaque
The plaques honoring the players that have been inducted and the various trophies are displayed in the Great Hall, which is in the historic Bank of Montreal building.
The Great Hall’s ceiling
The Great Hall is a stunning room, the highlight of which is the 24 fanned-panel, stained glass dome, with eight stained glass circles, and even more detailed panels on the outer edge and inner section.
Herbie’s induction plaque
The Bank of Montreal building, which is home to The Great Hall was constructed in 1885.
The Original: Lord Stanley’s Cup
The original Stanley Cup, and the retired bands from the current cup, are stored in the old bank’s vault. Now known as Lord Stanley’s Vault.
The Canadiens are well represented
The HHof receives around 300,000 visitors a year. This year, with the Frozen Four held in nearby Buffalo, NY, there was a definite influx of college hockey fans while we visited.
Conn Smythe Trophy
Miracle on Ice
There is an entire section dedicated to international hockey, which includes Olympic Hockey. A large exhibit honoring the 1980 Miracle on Ice team was prominent.
They do play hockey Down Under
A hockey fan could spend several days exploring the Hall. I know that all of our group would have loved to spend more time than we had, but it was a well worth the trip across the border to experience the history of hockey.
A very small section of the exhibit dedicated to the evolution of the goalie mask
Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.. The 400 plus acre park was established in 1885. I spent an entire afternoon exploring its trails and taking in the sights and sounds of The Falls.
Niagara Falls from the American side
Compared with last autumn, when I was on the other bank with the Curator & Brazil Lucas, the crowds this week were at a minimum. From the looks of things, May 1 is the date that things open up. The lower trails were still closed off, and few, if any attractions/facilities were open.
Statue dedicated to Nikola Tesla
In 1896, Nikola Tesla sent AC power, generated at The Falls, to Buffalo for the first time, proving to the world that it could be done. Previously, the DC power generated at The Falls could only be transmitted 100 yards.
Canadian Goose enjoying lunch at The Falls
It was a beautiful day to be out walking the trails. There is a trolley that runs through the park. You can get on and off as many times as you need during a day for $3. Not a bad price when you consider that a horse drawn carriage ride around The Falls in 1895 cost $1/hour.
Waterfall leading up to Three Sisters Islands
There is a pedestrian bridge and a vehicle bridge over to Goat Island. There are actually several islands at this end of the park, with foot bridges connecting them all. Some nice views of both sides of The Falls can be had from the island, with the Niagara River surrounding you.
Niagara from Goat Island
Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River, before it flows into Lake Ontario. 75,750 gallons of water a second goes over American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, and another 681,750 gallons per second over Horseshoe Falls.
It will take 50,000 years, due to erosion, for Niagara Falls to cease to exist.
March 20 means that spring has sprung, and for Fairbanks, it actually feels like spring on the first day of spring. Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories have all seen record temps the past few days, and all three have seen 70F degrees this month. It is the earliest on record for all of us to hit that mark.
The third, and final Supermoon of the year is also taking place on the first day of spring. This full moon, is also known as the Worm Moon. Not as catchy as the Super Blood Wolf Moon, but as it historically signals when worms start coming out of the frozen earth, I can get into the Worm Moon. Quite honestly, even though this has been an insanely mild winter in the far north, I am more than ready for spring. I only have three salmon fillets left in my freezer.
Goose watching season has also begun here in Fairbanks. Alaskans are easily entertained, so we have an annual bet on when the first Canadian Goose shows up at Creamer’s Field. Whoever guesses the date and time of the first goose landing, without going over, wins $500.
Fairbanks Weather Almanac for March 20:
High temp………………….. +39F
Low temp…………………… +26F
Record high………………… +56F
Record low…………………. -37F
Average high……………….. +28F
Average low………………… – 1F
Length of day………………. 12 hrs 15 mins
….. For a gain of 6 mins 44 secs from yesterday
Wednesday, 27 February, is International Polar Bear Day.
Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus) close-up. Hudson Bay, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
There are 25,000 estimated polar bears world-wide. On average, a male polar bear weighs 1500 lbs, and can stand close to 10 feet tall on its hind legs. The largest known came from Alaska, and stood 12 feet, and weighed 2210 lbs. Females are quite a bit smaller, weighing on average 500 lbs, and only standing 8 feet tall.
Polar bears are closely related to brown bears. The two populations likely became isolated around the time of the last ice age, around 150,000 years ago. The two species can interbreed, but have adapted to very different habitats. Neither species would last long in the other’s habitat. For example, the polar bear is so adapted to the Arctic climate, that they can not take temperatures above 50F for very long.
Only female polar bears who are pregnant hibernate. Male bears are active year round.
Polar bears can, but rarely, live past 25 years in the wild. Although, in captivity, they have reached 43 years.
Russia outlawed the hunting of polar bears in 1956, the United States began protecting them in 1972. Regulation in Greenland started in 1994. Currently, Canada allows the hunting of up to 500 polar bears annually.