LEO Network
The Northern Climate Observer

The Northern Climate Observer


An unusual fireweed. Photo M. Brubaker
A fireweed mystery - In the circumpolar north, fireweed is one of the most important and beloved of plants. In summer the hills are pink with the bright flowers and buzzing with bumble bees. In the fall the leaves turn fire red and for a second time they brighten the hills with vivid color. Children learn how to strip the leaves off the stem with one sweep, and wave them in the air like a miniature baton, or take on a friend with a fireweed sword fight. The plants are also important as a wild food and medicine. The shoots, stems and leaves are nutritious and can be eaten raw or made into a medicinal tea. The flowers are sweet and are used for a delicious jelly, and the pollen makes as fine a honey as you can find anywhere. Fireweed is also a natural calendar. The flowers bloom sequentially up the single, straight reddish stem. When the last flower blooms it is a signal for the end of summer. For these and many other reasons, it is one of our very favorite plants.

So my attention was piqued when Holly Dean posted her observation to LEO Network entitled Multi-headed Fireweed. She writes, "I counted 19 flowering heads coming from one stem! I have never seen this phenomenon before, is this something new?" Botanist Justin Fulkerson explained that these abnormalities are likely caused by a genetic mutation, not climate or weather. But the appearance of "several" of these plants is curious and I wondered if the phenomena was restricted to Holly's property. Then, two weeks later an article appeared in the Juneau Empire, (see Planet Alaska: The lool always knows), describing a similar phenomena with fireweed in Southeast Alaska.

That got the LEO Network team going and resulted in even more posts of abnormalities in the Anchorage area. So ... what is going on with the fireweed? Are these instances of abnormal plants from Juneau to Fairbanks in any way connected? We are asking our friends in the LEO Network to share observations about any unusual plants in their areas. A special thank you to Holly Dean for opening our eyes to this interesting event. Mike Brubaker - Editor

Khatanga, Krasnoyarskiy, Russia
Atle Staalesen / The Independent Barents Observer / August 21, 2020

Climate change is triggering behavior change among animals across the Arctic. In Northern Siberia wild reindeer this summer started migrating almost a month earlier than normal.

Read article on The Independent Barents Observer



Pevek, Chukotskiy Avtonomnyy Okrug, Russia
Siberia Times / August 24, 2020

It is still not clear if the family was brought so close to people by hunger as most locals believe or, as one account suggests, out of fear of being followed by an aggressive large male.

Read article on Siberia Times



Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Svalbard and Jan Mayen
BBC News / August 28, 2020

The man, identified as 38-year-old Dutch citizen was attacked in his tent before dawn and died shortly afterwards of his injuries. Svalbard officials say there were seven people on the site at the time and they are being looked after by health services.

Read article on BBC News



Gruve 7, Advendtdalen, Svalbard
Anja Ariel Tørnes Brekke, Aslaug Aarsæther / NRK / August 31, 2020

The glacier over Mine 7 in Adventdalen on Svalbard is thawing in the summer heat. This has resulted in a severe flood with thousands of liters of water.

Read article on NRK



Alexander Elliott / RÚV / August 21, 2020

A jökulhlaup flood struck West Iceland’s Hvítá river in the early hours of Tuesday morning when water from a lagoon by the Langjökull glacier suddenly broke a new path and flowed in a different direction. Thick glacial mud now coats the river banks, and much of Borgarfjörður fjord.

Read article on RÚV



Ester, Alaska, United States
Holly Dean / LEO Network / July 10, 2020

Genetic mutation causes fireweed plants to grow multiple flowering heads.

Read post on the LEO Network



Juneau, Alaska, United States
Vivian Mork Yéilk’ / Juneau Empire / July 29, 2020

This summer, fireweed has been telling us to prepare for winter. It's been telling us the season is off kilter, too. Here in Juneau we've had fireweed plants that are blooming halfway up the stalk growing next to fireweed with barely any buds.

Read article on Juneau Empire



Unalaska, Alaska, United States
Alaska Public Media / August 27, 2020

Two dead whales have washed up on Unalaska's shores in the past week: an adult fin whale — which is the second largest mammal in the world — and a juvenile humpback.

Read article on Alaska Public Media



Juneau, Alaska, United States
Brian Mazurek / Juneau Empire / August 27, 2020

It is thought to be either an aborted fetus or a very young calf. The calf is one of six belugas that have been found dead this year, five in the last month.

Read article on Juneau Empire



The Northern Climate Observer is published weekly by the Center for Climate and Health. We track news coverage from across the circumpolar north and provide readers with a curated roundup of climate change related events. Thank you for reading our newsletter and for paying attention to our changing world.

Please forward this newsletter or share it on social media. Join the LEO Network to share your own stories of environmental change.

Connect with us:

Northern Climate Observer


Subscribe Unsubscribe


Northern Climate Observer #437
Sep 21, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #436
Sep 14, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #435
Sep 2, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #434
Aug 17, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #433
Jul 28, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #432
Jul 13, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #431
Jul 7, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #430
Jun 29, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #429
Jun 19, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #428
Jun 12, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #427
Jun 4, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #426
May 26, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #425
Feb 26, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #424
Feb 19, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #425
Feb 5, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #424
Jan 30, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #423
Jan 9, 2020
Northern Climate Observer #422
Dec 23, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #421
Dec 12, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #420
Dec 5, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #419
Nov 27, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #418
Nov 16, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #417
Nov 9, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #416
Oct 31, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #415
Oct 17, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #414
Oct 9, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #413
Oct 3, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #412
Sep 24, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #411
Sep 17, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #410
Sep 12, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #409
Aug 27, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #408
Aug 22, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #407
Aug 15, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #406
Aug 8, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #405
Jul 31, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #404
Jul 24, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #403
Jul 15, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #402
Jul 9, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #401
Jul 3, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #400
Jun 26, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #399
Jun 19, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #398
Jun 11, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #397
May 29, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #396
May 22, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #395
May 15, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #394
May 6, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #393
Apr 30, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #392
Apr 22, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #391
Apr 15, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #390
Apr 9, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #389
Apr 2, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #388
Mar 27, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #387
Mar 19, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #386
Mar 5, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #385
Feb 26, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #384
Feb 20, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #383
Feb 5, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #382
Jan 28, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #381
Jan 14, 2019
Northern Climate Observer #380
Dec 26, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #379
Dec 12, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #378
Nov 20, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #377
Nov 12, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #376
Nov 6, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #375
Oct 24, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #374
Oct 15, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #373
Oct 9, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #372
Oct 2, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #371
Sep 27, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #370
Sep 18, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #369
Sep 13, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #368
Sep 4, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #367
Aug 29, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #366
Aug 21, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #365
Aug 7, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #364
Jul 24, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #363
Jul 17, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #362
Jul 9, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #361
Jul 2, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #360
Jun 26, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #359
Jun 18, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #358
Jun 13, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #357
May 22, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #356
May 15, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #355
May 7, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #354
May 1, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #353
Apr 24, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #352
Apr 20, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #351
Apr 9, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #350
Mar 26, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #349
Mar 19, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #348
Mar 12, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #347
Mar 5, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #346
Feb 27, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #345
Feb 19, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #344
Feb 5, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #343
Jan 29, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #342
Jan 21, 2018
Northern Climate Observer #341
Dec 28, 2017
Northern Climate Observer #340
Dec 12, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #339
Dec 4, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #338
Nov 28, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #337
Nov 21, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #336
Nov 13, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #335
Nov 6, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #334
Oct 30, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #333
Oct 23, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #332
Oct 16, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #331
Oct 9, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #330
Oct 2, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #329
Sep 18, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #328
Sep 11, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #327
Sep 5, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #326
Aug 21, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #325
Aug 14, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #324
Jul 31, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #323
Jul 11, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #322
Jul 5, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #321
Jun 25, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #320
Jun 12, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #319
May 29, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #318
May 22, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #317
May 11, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #316
May 8, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #315
Apr 29, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #314
Apr 21, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #313
Apr 14, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #312
Apr 7, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #311
Mar 24, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #310
Mar 17, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #309
Mar 9, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #308
Feb 24, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #307
Feb 17, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #306
Feb 3, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #305
Jan 27, 2017
The Northern Climate Observer #304
Jan 20, 2017