Friday, October 30, 2009

UAF hosts natural resources career day

SNRAS Forest Soils Lab Field Technician Matthew Robertson tests carbon dioxide in the forest floor. Careers such as this will be discussed at the natural resources career day on Nov. 4. (Photo by Todd Paris, UAF Marketing)
Students interested in careers in natural resources are encouraged to attend the UAF Natural Resources, Fisheries, and Sciences Career Day Wednesday, Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Wood Center.

In addition to nearly forty career information booths there will be panel discussions from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 2 p.m. Participants are Heather Knudsen, US Fish and Wildlife Service; DeAnne Stevens, Alaska Division of geological and Geophysical Surveys; Matt Evenson, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Sport Fish Division; and Steve Murphy, ABR Inc.

Students attending the fair will learn what qualities, skills, education, and experience employers look for; the wide range of possible educational, employment, and internship opportunities available; and whether or not a graduate degree is helpful in a particular field.

The event is sponsored by UAF Career Services, SNRAS, UAF Alumni Association, College of Natural Science and Mathematics, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.

SNRAS professor publishes views on climate change

SNRAS Professor Glenn Juday (pictured at right) was the featured author in the latest issue of Witness the Arctic online newsletter. Witness has an audience of over 14,000 arctic scientists, educators, agency personnel, and policymakers. Published by Arctic Research Consortium of the United States, the newsletter requested scientists to submit articles on how their personal thinking about their research has changed over time. In Juday’s article, titled, “Coincidence and Contradiction in the Warming Boreal Forest,” he details the forestry research he has been conducting since the 1970s, highlighting the warm seasons Alaska has experienced.

About the beginning of his work Juday wrote, “...I considered global warming from human-caused increases in greenhouse gas as an explanation, something as dramatic as global-scale climate and ecosystem change seemed like a distant prospect, not something likely actually to be important in my career.”

As the years passed and national interest in climate change waxed and waned, Juday decided to focus on the potential effects of warming on boreal tree growth and forest health. In the late 1980s he learned tree ring analysis. He plotted ring-width sample data against Fairbanks climate data, expecting to see no relationship, but found out his assumption was wrong.

Following is a short excerpt from the article.

As I analyzed the Alaska temperature data, the pile of squiggly lined graphs grew higher and higher, and nearly all displayed a sharp upswing at the far right of the page, representing the high temperatures of the most recent years. Again, this sounds elementary today, but at the time it was a noteworthy trend—seeing the hard data at so many stations going up to such high levels was compelling.
My results also showed a strong cyclic feature in the record, which was partly related to the solar cycle and to El NiƱo, as a few others had suggested earlier. In addition to giving a summary perspective on about 80 years of climate data, I was looking for a reasonable and specific test that would address the question of greenhouse gas warming. I concluded that "if, as expected, CO2 begins to overwhelm the natural range of climate variability between now [1982] and the end of the century, Alaska would experience a stairstep increase in temperatures, the peaks of which would reach unprecedented highs." That basically describes what happened, but, of course, I wasn't certain at the time.

Related posts:

"Forestry professor included in new climate change book," SNRAS Science & News, Dec. 19, 2008

"The Case of the Missing Budworms," SNRAS Science & News, Oct. 16, 2008, by Glenn Juday

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Public input sought on Alaska forests

An all-day workshop addressing climate change impacts on Alaska’s forests is planned for Thursday, Nov. 5. Registration is due by Friday, Oct. 30.

Hosted by the Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning (SNAP) and the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station, the workshop will be held via video conference from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 5 in Fairbanks, Anchorage, Juneau, and Sitka. The goals of the climate change impacts on forested ecosystems of Alaska project are to review and synthesize existing knowledge, provide a baseline and scenarios of change, and identify data gaps and uncertainties.

The workshop is an opportunity to engage with the core research team to let them know what issues are important and how the issues can be addressed so the report is relevant and useful. For more information e-mail Angie Floyd or call 907-474-2424.

In Fairbanks the location is on the UAF campus, room 204 Butrovich Building, 910 Yukon Drive. In Anchorage, it is the Gordon W. Hartlieb Hall, AV Lab 103 on the UAA campus. In Juneau, it is the UAS Egan Library, room 113. The Sitka location is 1332 Seward Ave., Room 206.

Presenters/facilitators will be SNAP Director Scott Rupp, SNAP Stakeholder Liaison Sarah Trainor, and Teresa Hollingsworth, a research ecologist for the USFS Pacific Northwest Research Station and an affiliate assistant professor for SNRAS.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Experts take close look at AMSA recommendations

From left, Shiji Xu (Chinese Arctic and Antarctic Administration),Carl Uchytil (US Coast Guard), Denise Michels (mayor of Nome), Pablo Clemente-Colon (US National Ice Center), examine the AMSA report.
For three days last week, an international group of scientists, policymakers, military and government officials examined ways to implement the seventeen recommendations of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment. Participants in the University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy came from the US, the United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Canada, China, and Japan.

“This is a subject that touches all citizens of the north,” said UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers in the opening session of the AMSA workshop, hosted by the UA Geography Program and held in Fairbanks Oct. 22-24. “The arctic is a place of challenges and opportunities where people have lived and thrived for ages. We need to discover a roadmap forward.”

Mead Treadwell, chair of the US Arctic Research Commission, said the AMSA report brought together the eight arctic nations for the first time in hundreds of years. “We asked how do we do it right,” he said. “We looked at what shipping is in the arctic as well as what it can be.” The three key words the Arctic Council used in forming the AMSA were: safe, secure, and reliable, Treadwell said.

Denise Michels, mayor of Nome, said marine traffic is very important to her city. “We’re doing our best to accommodate all this traffic,” she said. In 1990 Nome had 34 port calls and in 2008 there were 234, including four cruise ships. Michels said she sees maritime activity as Nome’s next economic focus. “We’re trying to be very proactive,” she said. “These policies affect us immediately and they need to work for all of us who live in Alaska.”

The attendees broke into three groups for the workshop, making recommendations on: enhancing arctic marine safety, protecting arctic people and the environment, and building the arctic marine infrastructure. The groups were charged with identifying primary stakeholders who should be involved, developing roadmaps for each recommendation (what actions are required), naming sources of funding, and establishing a timeline. The findings will be published in a report and distributed widely to arctic communities.

“Nearly every square mile of the Arctic Ocean has been traversed by ships,” said Lawson Brigham, a lead author of the AMSA report and a UA Geography Program professor. “We decided with all this marine traffic maybe we should take a look at protecting the Arctic Ocean and its environment and people. After holding over a dozen major workshops and fourteen town hall meetings, the report was approved by the eight arctic states April 29. “This goes well beyond climate change. It is about interplay of marine use. AMSA is a message of the arctic states to the world.”

Brigham said research opportunities abound, including arctic sea ice, arctic routes and boundaries, pipelines, marine ecosystem responses to arctic sea ice retreat, socio-economic responses to global climate change, noise, emissions, mapping, and effects of cold region spill response technologies.

The workshop brought an international group of experts to explore in-depth the way forward for AMSA, Brigham said. “We held rich discussions. We focused on the issue of protecting the arctic people and the place. The meetings were successful because they brought the right mix of actors and stakeholders together.”

Monday, October 26, 2009

Conference examines invasive species

Scientists, experts, and citizens’ groups concerned about invasive plants and animals will gather in Ketchikan Oct. 27-29 for two conferences.

The tenth annual Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plants Management Workshop will meet Oct. 27-28. The fourth annual Alaska Invasive Species Working Group Conference will follow on Oct. 29. The UAF Cooperative Extension Service will host both conferences at the Cape Fox Lodge.

Conference organizer Michele Hebert, an agriculture and horticulture agent with Extension’s Tanana District, said participants will include teachers, the public, and representatives from state and federal agencies who hope to raise awareness of the invasive species problem and to coordinate research and prevention efforts. Both conferences are in Ketchikan for the first time and include special sessions on marine invasive species.

A variety of speakers will discuss control efforts involving invasive plants and animals around Alaska. Gino Graziano, invasive weeds and agricultural pest coordinator from the Alaska Division of Agriculture, will provide an update on the Alaska strategic plan for invasive weeds and agricultural pest management. Margaret Brady of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will talk about aquatic invasive species and federal legislation. University of Washington professor Sarah Reichard will talk about the ecological impact of knotweed, an aggressive plant that can damage spawning areas. Gary Freitag, an Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program agent, will discuss marine invasive species sampling in Ketchikan. Reichard and Freitag will also speak at a public lecture from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, at the Forest Service Discovery Center at 50 Main Street.

Other conference events will include a teacher-training workshop from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Oct. 26. The public is invited to a poster session from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27.

To register, visit UAF Cooperative Extension Service's website.

(One of Alaska's many invasive plants, the Common Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare), is pictured above.

Related reading:
"Alaska Invasive Species Conference coming up" SNRAS Science & News, Oct. 6, 2009

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Workshop addresses Arctic Ocean issues

Sea ice off the coast of Greenland.

Scientists, military leaders, and government and non-governmental organization representatives will gather in Fairbanks this week for a three-day workshop on policies for the future of the Arctic Ocean.

The University of the Arctic Institute for Applied Circumpolar Policy workshop will run Oct. 22-24 at the Fairbanks Princess Riverside Lodge and will focus on the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, an interdisciplinary report approved by eight arctic states.

As sea ice thins and arctic maritime travel becomes more predominant the future of arctic shipping becomes an increasingly important topic, said Lawson Brigham, a UAF geography professor who helped produce the assessment. “It’s not a question of whether maritime industry is coming to the Arctic. The global maritime industry has already come.”

SNRAS Associate Dean and UA Geography Program Director Mike Sfraga will lead the sessions. Participants will identify future action in each of the assessment’s three main arenas: enhancing arctic marine safety, protecting arctic people and the environment and building the arctic marine infrastructure. Following the session, a report will outline the participants’ recommendations.

“This is a first broad attempt to consider a roadmap forward,” Sfraga said. “Others will take this work and build on it.”

Among the guest speakers are Brigham; UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers; Mead Treadwell, chairman of the US Arctic Research Commission; Denise Michels, Nome mayor and representative of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference; Lars Kullerud, University of the Arctic president; Ross Virginia, director of the Institute of Arctic Studies at Dartmouth College.

Further reading:
Arctic Council Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment 2009 Report (PDF)

Monday, October 19, 2009

SNRAS doctoral student wins national award

David D'Amore is pictured in the field.
SNRAS doctoral student David D’Amore has been named the National Field Soil Scientist of the year by the US Forest Service. D’Amore, a soil scientist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Juneau, collaborated with land managers and researchers in his efforts to scientifically understand the cause of the die-off of yellow cedar in Southeast Alaska and the development of an adaptive management strategy for yellow cedar conservation and restoration. He also advanced a mitigation strategy for carbon management in the carbon dense coastal temperate rainforest and is developing mitigation strategies to limit exported carbon and nitrogen into aquatic ecosystems.

D’Amore accomplished his goals through extensive collaboration with land managers and numerous research facilities across the country. Though resources have been limited, he was able to leverage those resources with partners to achieve common goals. In his job, D’Amore’s primary research projects have focused on wetland hydrology, hydric soils, wetland delineation, and tree growth in forested wetlands. He served on an interdisciplinary team developing hydrogeomorphic models for wetlands in Southeast Alaska.

D’Amore’s advisor, Associate Professor David Valentine, said D’Amore’s association with SNRAS reflects the mutual desire of the US Forest Service and UAF to collaborate on issues related to the temperate rainforests of Southeast Alaska. For his dissertation, D’Amore is examining soil properties in streams draining through watersheds and how soils in temperate rainforests are influencing the carbon balance.

After earning a B.A. from the University of Virginia, D’Amore served in the Peace Corps in West Africa as a forestry and soil conservation specialist for four years, and then earned a master’s degree from Oregon State University.

Further reading:
"Doctoral student focuses on forest future," SNRAS Science & News, Dec. 10, 2008, by Nancy Tarnai

"Silviculture and Ecology of Southeast Alaska Team," 2008 Science Accomplishments, various reports by David D'Amore

Friday, October 16, 2009

Student group promotes resources knowledge

From left, Joe Kendall, RMS prime minister, Karl Holt, vice prime minister, and Dawn Holt, treasurer, sell plants to raise funds for the club.
Members of one of the oldest student organizations at UAF, the Resource Management Society, seek to spread knowledge about managing natural resources.

In addition to fun activities such as camping and hiking, the group does volunteer work. Conducting educational projects with children at Bunnell House, adopting a mile on the Parks Highway, hosting professional forums, and assisting with the Farthest North Forest Sports Festival are among the activities.

RMS welcomes new members, whether undergraduate or graduate students. The club meets on alternate Fridays at 6 p.m. in O’Neill Building, room 356, and holds Wednesday study sessions at 5 p.m. in the O’Neill third floor computer lab. Advisors are Associate Professor Peter Fix and Associate Professor Susan Todd.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Pilot project focuses on fire science communication

A consortium to communicate the results of northern latitude and boreal forest fire science to federal and state land and fire managers is forming. Funding for the pilot Joint Fire Information Consortium was recently given by the Joint Fire Science Program to the Scenarios Network for Alaska Planning and Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at UAF. The consortium is being created in collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management – Alaska Fire Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, and the Fire Research and Management Exchange System. The consortium will work with land and fire managers to optimize modes and methods of fire science communication.

Two upcoming events of interest to fire service and land management professionals are:
• Fire Science Technology Transfer Workshop. Friday, Oct. 16, 8:30 a.m. to noon in the conference room, National Park Service, 4175 Geist Road, Fairbanks.
• Webinar on Interagency Fuels Treatment Decision Support System by Stacy Drury, SonomaTech. Tuesday, Oct. 27, 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. To sign up contact Sarah Trainor.

Trainor, SNAP research assistant professor, said agencies are mandated to use the best available science, yet managers often don’t know what information is already available or the quality and applicability of that research to their management plans and projects. "Another problem is the research may not be integrated in a context meaningful to management," Trainor said. "And while the research may be of the highest quality and peer-reviewed, demonstration of science findings in the field is often lacking. The Joint Fire Science Program seeks to accelerate the awareness, understanding, and adoption of wildland fire science information by federal, tribal, state, local, and private stakeholders within identified regions. Their vision is a national network of regional consortia comprised of interested management and science stakeholders working together to tailor and actively demonstrate existing information to benefit management of a large ecologically similar region.”

A proposal to the Joint Fire Sciences Program in February 2010 will seek to implement an annual, in-person Alaska-wide workshop and tutorial for fire science delivery, institute a fire science newsletter and statewide fire science teleconference/webinar series, conduct information transfer workshops in remote hub-communities, staff an Alaska fire science help desk, update and coordinate existing fire science delivery products, develop innovative fire prediction tools, and evaluate methods.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Flying Axes: forest sports festival results

Double Buck Saw event, Fairbanks Experiment Farm, Oct. 3, 2009. UAF photo by Maureen McCombs

The 12th Annual Farthest North Forest Sports Festival, held Saturday, October 3, saw contestants pitching logs, building fires, and falling in the ice-cold water of Ballaine Lake in this traditional logging and forestry skills competition. "Weather and turnout were great," said Dr. David Valentine of the event. Teams (4- and 2-person) included AWGPT, Benthos, Crumb Buns, Dark Horse, Dutch Oven, the Expired Tags, Jersey, No Shamin' LadyJacks, No Team (and No Team!), Paxon, the Strangers, Spiklets & Slivers, Team Green, Team Hangover, the Tree Toppers, Watershed & Co., Whatever, and the Wood Chuck'rs. (For several of these teams, curiously--or perhaps not so curiously--no names are listed on the score sheet.) Winners in the various events were:
Belle of the Woods (overall female winner): Kristen Shake

Bull of the Woods
(overall male winner): Jamie Hollingsworth

Team Winner: Paxon
(including John Hogue, Patrick Pritchett, Amy Rath, and Kristen Shake)

Axe Throw (female): Kim Curtis

Axe Throw (male): Raymond Johnson

Birling (female): Lisa Beatie

Birling (male): Matt McAnder

Bow Saw (female): Kristen Shake

Bow Saw (male): Chris Garber-Slaght

Double Buck Saw (female): Amy Rath and Kristen Shake

Double Buck Saw (male): Jamie Hollingsworth and Tom Malone

Double Buck Saw (Jack & Jill): Jamie Hollingsworth and Kristen Shake

Fire Building (two-person team): Chris Garber-Slaght and Danny Jenson

Pulp Toss (four-person team): the Tree Toppers (including Adrian Baer, Brenden Bruns, Chris Garber-Slaght, and Gabe Peasemadore)
One of the participating teams. UAF photo by Maureen McCombs

The October 6, 2009 Sun Star has a full center spread of photos from the festival.

Highlights from some of the previous forest sports festivals:
2008: "Farthest North Forest Sports Festival participants show off their skills in contest," Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Oct. 5, 2008. See also this award-winning photo by UAF photographer Todd Paris.

2007: News-Miner photo from the 10th forest fest fire-building event, and the cover story from the October 9 Sun Star. See also this birling photo by Todd Paris (brrr!).

2005: "Farthest North Forest Sports Festival," by Tav Ammu, Sun Star, Oct. 4, 2005. Photos by Todd Paris from this year are also available.

2004: UAF photo by Todd Paris from the 7th festival.

2003: rules and links for the 6th annual festival.

2002: Dr. Scott Rupp's faculty page features a PowerPoint slideshow download of the 5th forest sports festival.

1999 Photos from the 2nd Annual festival.

1998: the first year! Harry Bader, Jamie Hollingsworth, and John Fox, along with a few others, came up with the idea and put it into action.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alaska Invasive Species Conference coming up

The 2009 annual Alaska Committee for Noxious and Invasive Plant Management (CNIPM) conference (Tuesday October 27th & Wednesday October 28th) will be held in conjunction with the annual Alaska Invasive Species Working Group (AISWG) conference on Thursday October 29th. Activities around the jointly held conference extend from Monday, Oct. 26 through Oct. 29. A free public lecture by Gary Freitag of the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program and Dr. Sarah Reichard of the University of Washington, titled "Ketchikan: Gateway to an Invasion Free Future," will be given Monday night, October 26th, starting at 7 PM, at the Discovery Center in Ketchikan.

An Invasive Plant Curriculum Workshop will be held Monday, October 26th, from 12:30 to 4:30 PM. The workshop will be held at the Discovery Center. The workshop is free and open to any interested educators.

A poster session will be held Tuesday night at the Cape Fox Lodge, free and open to the public, from 5 PM to 7:30 PM.

Sessions on Wednesday will focus on spotted knapweed, impacts on natural resources, and plans of action.

See the agenda for full conference events. Contact information is available on the conference website. Early registration ends after Oct. 10, 2009. Registration forms are available here. (PDF)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lecturer pleads for US to halt aid to Israel

Alison Weir visits with students Trevor Borseth, left, and Alex Kellerhals Oct. 2 in Cary deWit's Geography of Europe class.
“Come to Palestine with me and see how your tax dollars are spent,” urged Alison Weir, founder of If Americans Knew, in a lecture at UAF Oct. 1.

At the invitation of the UA Geography Program and sponsorship by the Alaska World Affairs Council, Weir presented her findings concerning the conflict in Israel. “We are supplying the weapons that are destroying lives,” Weir said. “Weep with me for our victims and our guilt and then say no more.”

Weir, on her first trip to Alaska, warned the audience at the beginning, “This is not going to be a fun, entertaining lecture. It’s a serious topic.”

Nine years ago she knew very little about Israel and Palestine, she said. “The Middle East seemed distant to my daily life,” she said. “I skimmed headlines and accepted the confusion I found.” In 2000 she decided to seriously follow the news coverage for that area of the world. “Quickly I noted as a journalist that we were getting one-sided coverage. We were hearing from and about Israel, as we should. I expected to hear about Palestine too but that news came much less frequently. I felt we weren’t getting the whole story.”

Her organization conducted two-year studies of the New York Times, the three major television news networks, Associated Press, and regional newspapers to determine coverage of children’s deaths in Israel and Palestine. Major news outlets reported on Israeli deaths at a rate fourteen times that of Palestinian children. “This bizarre pattern is what we found again and again,” she said. Regional newspaper coverage was worse. She even found on one occasion that the San Jose Mercury News had “reversed” the news, claiming that the number of Palestinians killed actually applied to the Israelis, and vice versa. “I was astounded,” Weir said. “What if they had reported the Super Bowl backwards? These reversals had to do with life and death and no one noticed.”

When they studied National Public Radio there were surprising results. “Many pro-Israeli people accused NPR of being pro-Palestinian,” she said. Weir found NPR to be “distorted” in its coverage of the conflict, but the distortion was again pro-Israeli in nature. Seth Ackerman of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting wrote an article about this called “The Illusion of Balance.”

Calling the coverage “manipulative reporting,” Weir said, “The suicide bombings in Tel Aviv are reported. The Palestinian rockets we know about. We should also know about Palestinian children being killed. Eighty-two Palestinian children were killed before one Israeli child was killed. Many Americans think the chronology is reversed.”

She said Americans are getting half-truths in the news. “A major phenomenon in Israel is going virtually unreported,” she said. “The most significant omission is that American taxpayers are sending $7 million per day to Israel.” She urged the audience to be informed about issues they are involved in. “We are involved,” she said. “Our country has insufficient money for programs here and we are sending money to one of the smallest countries and one of the richest countries. This is not being reported.”

Her main point about the history of the region was that when the Zionists decided to claim Palestine’s “uninhabited” land as their own, it was already heavily populated. “This is an ancient crossroads of civilization,” Weir said.

She has visited Israel and the Gaza Strip, which she labeled a prison, many times, becoming more and more astounded and outraged. In her travels she busted many myths. She discovered that the Palestinians welcomed her, invited her to stay in their homes, and told her their stories. She visited hospitals and attended funerals; she even endured gunfire in one home. “I have no doubt the Israeli soldiers saw me and wanted me to go. They have killed journalists before.”

To sum up, Weir stated, “I saw a people and a land being destroyed. That’s newsworthy, especially since I am paying for it.”

The day after the lecture when asked what Americans can do to help, she said educating other people about the issue is the first priority. “Tell your friends. Write letters to the editor. Contact your elected representatives. Tell them you want policies that are rational and moral and based on American principles and American needs. End all aid to Israel immediately.”