Science & Environment

Science and environmental reporting on news and community topics. Science coverage is occasionally provided by community members.

courtesy NOAA’s Fisheries Science Center


Climate change may get all the attention, but it has a less-talked-about but no less troubling twin: ocean acidification. A growing chorus of Alaskans, from shellfish growers to fishermen, are fretting about the potential impacts to the state’s waters. Now a new collaboration is aiming to bring ocean acidification into the spotlight — with the hope that better understanding it will better prepare the state to adapt.


Scientists have increased the alert level for Pavlof Volcano for the second time this month.

On Thursday, the Alaska Peninsula volcano showed signs of low-level eruptive activity, prompting officials to raise its alert level from "advisory" to "watch."

 "We saw pretty vigorous de-gassing of steam in our web camera images, and we got some detections of volcanic ash in satellite views," said Dave Schneider, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey at the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

 But that does not necessarily mean there will be an eruption.

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After weeks at sea, Dario Schwörer and his family were grateful to have landed in Unalaska again. “We were so happy when we saw the Aleutians coming out of the fog,” he said. Dario sails with his wife, Sabine, their five children, ranging in age from 11 years to seven months, and two volunteers.

Riccardo Rossi via Wikimedia Commons

In the 1960s, king salmon were abundant in Alaska, and it stayed that way through the 90s. After the new millennium, though, Chinook numbers fell — and they've remained low since.

"People have scratched their heads and said, 'Where are all the kings? What happened to all the kings?'" said Andy Seitz, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. 

Courtesy NOAA Fisheries


Every summer, biologists visit Alaska to count Steller sea lions. The western stock of the population has been in decline for nearly 40 years — hitting a low in 2002. The count helps determine whether sea lions stay on the endangered species list, which puts costly restrictions on the commercial fishing fleet. Even after decades of research, the reason for the decline is still a mystery.