Tag Archives: UAF
A magnetic storm is headed our way from the sun, which should offer great aurora viewing Sunday and Monday. Hopefully the clear skies hang around tonight. With a forecast of -20F, I am assuming we will have the all clear for the aurora.
Graphic credit: UAF Geophysical Institute
Reverb in the Nenana Basin
The Nenana Basin lies southwest of Fairbanks. The Parks Highway runs along its eastern boundary, and the Tanana River runs right through the middle of it. The basin is 56 miles long and 7.5 miles wide. Over the course of millions of years, the basin has been filled in with river sediment. Considering that the basin is 4 miles deep (7km), that is a lot of fill.
Several entities have been drilling test holes throughout the basin looking for oil and gas, so the University of Alaska – Fairbanks has been studying the basin’s makeup. One thing they found is that earthquakes last longer and feel a lot stronger in the basin, than just outside the basin.
The shockwaves from an earthquake travel differently through the sediment, which is mostly gravel, than the solid rock along the ridge lines. Reverberation also plays a roll here: The seismic waves are amplified by the basin walls and floor.
Seismic sensors have verified what local residents have been claiming: The shaking is a lot worse down in The Flats than up in the hills.
Source credit: Alaska Public Media, University of Alaska – Fairbanks
The Islands of the Four Mountains
There is a cluster of volcanic islands in the Aleutian Chain that scientists have recently been asking a rather provocative question: Could they all be a part of one giant super volcano, similar to the Yellowstone Caldera?
This tight grouping of islands is home to six stratovolcanoes: Carlisle, Cleveland, Herbert, Kagamil, Tana and Uliaga. Mount Cleveland has been one of the most active volcanoes in North America over the past 20 years.
Most stratovolcanoes tend to have modest sized reservoirs of magma. Although that doesn’t mean they can’t have explosive eruptions, but they are dwarfed by caldera forming eruptions. A caldera is formed by tapping a huge reservoir of magma in the earth’s crust. A caldera forming eruption releases a massive amount of lava and ash, and they are catastrophic, often causing world-wide effects.*
Field work continues, although there is nothing easy about doing research in the Aleutians.
Photo and map credit: USGS, *University of Alaska – Fairbanks
Follow the leader?
I’m not sure which I find odder: The people skating on the river, or the people on the bridge watching the skaters on the river.
Times have certainly changed.
Happy Winter Solstice
The above photo was taken at noon of the Winter Solstice in ’98, as in 1898. P.S. Hunt arrived in Alaska that summer from San Jose, California. It would appear that Hunt named the cabin after his previous hometown.
Way to go Chicken!!
The Chicken, Alaska weather station continues to impress. -63F is the coldest I have ever experienced in Fairbanks.
It was -41F at the cabin on Tuesday morning.
Fairbanks Weather Almanac
Fairbanks had 5″ of snow in October, which is trending downward for the month. Between 1981 and 2010, October saw an average of more than 10″. Fairbanks has not seen an October with significantly above average snowfall in 18 years. Not that I’m complaining about that statistic. I’m in the “delay the snowfall for as long as possible” camp.
Sunday morning saw our first below zero temp of the season. It was -10F at the cabin. That is two days later than the average first dip into the negatives.
The Tanana River is at flood stage near Fairbanks due to an ice dam. We often think of ice dams causing trouble at break up, but they can cause havoc in the autumn too.
The length of day on Halloween in Fairbanks was 7 hours and 58 minutes. All Saints Day will be 6 minutes and 45 seconds shorter.
The record low on Halloween is -30F. The record high for the day is 46F. The average is +5 and +20 respectively. 2022 was slightly cooler than average.
Graphics credit: ACCAP/@AlaskaWX and NOAA
Weather permitting, we are looking at some phenomenal aurora viewing over the next few nights. Halloween weekend also looks to be quite good for viewing.
Water meets Gravity
The disappearance of Harry Potter Lake:
An arctic lake, with the amusing name of Harry Potter Lake, undertook a disappearing act this summer. The lake was large enough that someone standing on one shore, could not see across it. Running within 30 yards of the lake, and ten feet below it in elevation was Judy Kayaak Creek. Scientists were working in the area because oil companies were interested in developing it, and they noticed that the dam was about to break.
Setting up trail cameras and watching via satellite, the lake did not disappoint. Once the strip of tundra between the lake and creek was breached, gravity and the power of water took over. Within 24 hours, most of Harry Potter Lake was rushing towards the Arctic Ocean.
At the height of the rush, Judy Kayaak Creek had an estimated 100 times its normal volume. The village of Nuiqsut had been warned of the potential flooding, but no ensuing damage was reported.
Sources: UAF Geophysical Institute/Ned Rozell
Falling short of 90
Even though Alaska had a warm and very dry start to summer, the state has not seen 90F yet. although some recording stations have hit 89F. A few northern locations in the Yukon and Northwest Territories broke the 90 degree mark, but none in Alaska.