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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.

Good News!

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?


Do You Yahoo!?

Yahoo! Sports - live college hoops coverage http://sports.yahoo.com/

1. Moose on the Loose

2. Someday, this kite will actually fly - really.

3. Lunch break at Poker Flat. (From left to right: Marge, Martin, Lynette)

4. After finishing up with Jalpertia pond, we've been notified to stay put until the 17-foot rocket has been launched from Poker Flat. Martin is waiting patiently for permission to leave the site.

5. After leaving Jalpertia pond, we went back to Poker Flat for lunch. Luckily for us, people there decided to launch again. The rocket was too quick for a photograph.

6. Rockets usually land 30 miles out of the range.

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