Alaska Archives - State of the Planet

The Columbia Glacier: Climate Change and Glacial Dynamics

One of the most rapidly changing glaciers in the world shows us that once climate change triggers retreat, glacial mechanics can make melting a whole lot worse.

by |February 23, 2018
caribou graze in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge: How Drilling for Oil Could Impact Wildlife

Congress is moving closer to opening Alaska’s pristine wilderness to oil and gas development. What might that mean for the creatures living there?

by |December 6, 2017

New Images From Under Alaska Seafloor Suggest High Tsunami Danger

Scientists probing under the seafloor off Alaska have mapped a geologic structure that they say signals potential for a major tsunami in an area that normally would be considered benign.

by |July 31, 2017

Creating Earthquake Heat Maps: Temperature Spikes Leave Clues in the Rock

When a fault slips, the temperature can spike by hundreds of degrees, high enough to alter organic compounds in the rocks and leave a signature. Lamont scientists have developed methods to use those organic signatures to reconstruct past earthquakes and better understand what controls them.

by |December 16, 2016

Photo Essay: Where the Trees Meet the Tundra

Due to warming climate and increasing human exploitation, far northern forests and the tundra beyond are undergoing rapid changes. In northern Alaska, scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and other institutions are studying the responses of trees at the very edge of their range.

by |November 16, 2016

Where Trees Meet Tundra, Decoding Signals of Climate Change

In northern Alaska’s Brooks Range, the earth as most of us know it comes to an end. The northern tree line-a boundary that circles all of earth’s northern landmasses for more than 8,300 miles, and forms the planet’s biggest ecological transition zone–runs through here. Scientists from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are studying how climate may change it, and the tundra beyond.

by |November 16, 2016
A side view of the June 28, 2016, Glacier Bay landslide. Photo: Paul Swanstrom/Mountain Flying Service.

Massive Landslide Detected in Glacier Bay’s Fragile Mountains

A 4,000-foot-high mountainside collapsed in Glacier Bay National Park this week in a massive landslide that spread debris for miles across the glacier below. Scientists at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are studying it to improve understanding of landslide risks.

by |July 2, 2016
A 200 million ton landslide on Oct. 17 local time in Icy Bay, Alaska, landed on the toe of Tyndall Glacier and in the water of Taan Fiord. It was detected by seismologists on the other side of the country. NASA Image

Detecting Landslides from a Few Seismic Wiggles

Over the last six years, seismologists Göran Ekström and Colin Stark have been perfecting a technique for picking out the seismic signature of large landslides. They just discovered North America’s largest known landslide in many years – 200 million tons of sliding rock in Alaska.

by |December 18, 2015
Subduction zone mechanics

Ancient Faults & Water Are Sparking Earthquakes Off Alaska

Ancient faults that formed in the ocean floor millions of years ago are feeding earthquakes today along stretches of the Alaska Peninsula, and likely elsewhere, a new study suggests.

by |November 16, 2015

Alaska: Hotspot for Oil and Climate Change

In September, Shell Oil abandoned its offshore oil drilling projects in the Alaskan Arctic. Why is Arctic drilling so controversial and what impacts will Shell’s announcement have?

by |November 12, 2015