18 March, 2002
Sunny, High 34, Low 0
The Science Behind Permafrost in Alaska
Permafrost is the underlying soil that remains frozen
all year round. In Alaska, permafrost makes up 82% of
the land and can be as thick as 2,100 feet. In the
northern areas, people have used permafrost as a solid
foundation for buildings, homes, and roads. Just above
the permafrost is called an active or seasonal layer,
which freezes in the winter and thaws in the summer
allowing vegetation to grow. Residents, in attempt to
prolong Alaska’s natural foundation build homes on
wooden foundations to prevent heat from seeping
through the ground. Currently at temperatures below
freezing, scientists fear that permafrost will
eventually begin to thaw. In 50 years, the average
permafrost temperatures increased 4 Celsius.
Launch crew members from Poker Flat have decided to
launch three 17-foot rockets to collect a mixture of
data from the atmosphere. Refer to the Poker Flat
Research Range website for more information.
http://www.pfrr.alaska.edu. Rocket launching dates
are unpredictable due to constantly changing weather
conditions. Instead, a window of 3 weeks to several
months is given to allow a few “perfect”
opportunities. Notification to crew members can be as
short as 10 minutes.
More Good News!
It’s now way past midnight and I’m back working on
this journal. The aurora forecast for
late this evening convinced me to wait up until 11:30.
Lynette and I bundled up in our
warmest clothes and walked into the open field, 3
miles west of Fairbanks. The forecast
was indeed true! I saw my first Aurora Borealis!
Seeping through the hills from afar
aiming for the cloudless sky, the greenish colored
Aurora boldly appeared in a range of dramatic,
artistic forms. I stood there in awe for almost an
hour, not realizing my hands and feet were becoming
So What Do You Think?
What are some common trees in Alaska?
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