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When most people consider the arctic, or high-altitude mountain landscapes, they think of endless snow, ice and bare rock. But pastel-coloured flowers, sometimes just a few millimetres wide, bloom in these dramatic places too. The miniature flowers not only weather some of the toughest habitats on Earth, but can also help engineer the landscape for other species.
Such a large, sudden die-off and a lack of sea ice were a red flag for scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
As Alaska faces an increased risk of spring breakup flooding this year, scientists are asking residents to share photos documenting major rivers’ progress from ice to water to help them predict with more accuracy where flooding might occur.
Since the first big winter storms, snow on the western Kenai Peninsula has collapsed roofs, broken gas meters and raised backcountry avalanche risk. “I think we can safely say that this was the most snow in any winter for the northwest Kenai Peninsula since the winter of 2011, 2012,” said Rick Thoman.
At the world’s northernmost year-round research station, scientists are racing to understand how the fastest-warming place on Earth is changing — and what those changes may mean for the planet’s future.
"Siku" means sea ice in the Siberian Yup'ik language. But about a hundred other Yup'ik words describe different types of sea ice, including icebergs, floating pressure ice ridges, solid ice safe for travel — and "pequ," "an unsuitable area in ice field where the current causes ice to heave up or break up," Vera Metcalf said.
Engineers caution that residents wanting to clear their own roofs face greater risk of hurting themselves or damaging roofs than from a collapse.
Atmospheric rivers, those long, powerful streams of moisture in the sky, are becoming more frequent in the Arctic, and they’re helping to drive dramatic shrinking of the Arctic’s sea ice cover.
Backyard Buoys project will give residents real time data such as wave height to whaling crews and communities throughout the North Slope. A system of buoys will be displaced across the slope this summer.