Sea Change

The Arctic Ocean is beginning to look and act more like the Atlantic. It’s a shift that threatens to upend an entire food web built on frigid waters. On a cool morning in late July, the Oceania, a blue and white, three-masted research vessel, maneuvers through the dark waters of a fjord on the west coast of the Arctic island of Spitsbergen. Craggy peaks streaked with snow rise sharply out of the water. Expansive sweeps of glacial ice plow between mountains … Read more…

High Stakes in the High North

A Remote island that harbored the word’s last mammoths is becoming a holdout for Arctic wildlife once again. A stiff wind buffeted the helicopter as it set down near the gravel shore of Wrangel Island, a remote spot of land 300 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Russia’s extreme Far East. After flying two and a half hours from Pevek, Russia, mostly over open water, the aircraft smelled of vodka and gasoline from the extra fuel cans secured inside. … Read more…

Preventing Overfishing in the Arctic

The Atlantic A consortium of countries are meeting in Iceland, where they hope to strike a deal that protects the newly accessible ecosystem The Arctic Ocean has long been the least accessible of the world’s major oceans. But as climate change warms the Arctic twice as fast as anywhere else, the thick sea ice that once made it so forbidding is now beating a hasty retreat. Since 1979, when scientists began using satellites to track changes in the Arctic sea-ice … Read more…

Scars of the Earth

Discover Forensic anthropologist Amy Mundorff wants to make the search for the missing safer and more successful. One morning in July 2005, Amy Mundorff rode into the Bosnian countryside, tagging along with a team from the International Commission on Missing Persons. The roads wound past forests, farmland and villages. The group stopped near a filed in a hilly area on the outskirts of a village to meet an informant. From the gestures and the translator’s comments, Mundorff understood that the ground … Read more…

Greenland: A Tale of Fire and Ice

NOVA Next

Are wildfires melting Greenland’s glaciers?

During the summer of 2012, fires exploded across the drought-stricken Colorado Front Range—a heavily populated area where the Great Plains meets the Rockies. One evening in early June, lightning struck a tree in the foothills west of Fort Collins. It ignited a fire that burned quietly for a few days and then rocketed downslope, fueled

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Dept. of Household Sciences

The Last Word on Nothing Division of Rubbing and Scrubbing On a recent quiet Sunday morning, I resolved to clean the caked-on grime on my stove. A roiling pot of pasta had overflowed one night, and in the rush to get plate to table and food to four-year-old’s mouth, the cloudy starchy water had cured onto the enamel around the burner and now refused to budge. Two earlier attempts to remove the gunk with run-of-the-mill household cleansers had been a waste … Read more…

Lady of the Lakes

Nature

Diane Orihel set her PhD aside to lead a massive protest when Canada tried to shut down its unique Experimental Lakes Area.

It was an ominous way to start the day. When she arrived at work on the morning of 17 May 2012, Diane Orihel ran into distraught colleagues. Staff from Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area had just been called to an emergency meeting at the Freshwater Institute in Winnipeg. “It can’t be good,” said one.

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Frozen Assets

Maclean’s Ice cores tell the history of Canada’s climate, but now the government doesn’t want them anymore. In a nondescript government office in the middle of Ottawa’s downtown core lie more than 10,000 years of the Arctic’s climate history. Ice cores drilled from Canada’s northernmost ice caps and ice fields are packed into dog-eared, insulated cardboard boxes and loaded onto floor-to-ceiling shelves in a walk-in freezer in a government building on Booth Street. Notes duct-taped to the outside divulge the … Read more…

Broken Bones Stir Debate

Sapiens A controversial new study places our human ancestors on the North American continent 130,000 years ago—far, far earlier than previously thought In the fall of 1992, a construction crew made an unusual discovery during a freeway expansion in a coastal area of San Diego County. Buried deep within the silty soil were the bones, tusks, and molars of a mastodon, an elephant-like mammal that once lived in North America. When archaeologists took a closer look, they found signs that … Read more…