Alaska's King

This site is for the exploration and discussion of a Constitutional Monarchy, as well as important Alaska news and information. Feel free to post your comments.

My Photo
Location: Alaska, United States

Welcome from the King of Alaska.

Friday, September 09, 2005

25 Mind-Numbingly Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina And Its Aftermath

If there was not enough evidence to support a Constitutional Monarchy (for all the right reasons) before, or if you need more evidence of the need for Alaska to have independence-then read the above link.

Arctic Shrubs Contribute to Global Warming

Warming in the Arctic is stimulating the growth of vegetation and could affect the delicate energy balance there, causing an additional climate warming of several degrees over the next few decades. A new study indicates that as the number of dark-colored shrubs in the otherwise stark Arctic tundra rises, the amount of solar energy absorbed could increase winter heating by up to 70 percent. The research will be published 7 September in the first issue of the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, published by the American Geophysical Union.

The study in western Alaska during the winters in 2000-2002 shows how the increasing abundance of high-latitude vegetation, particularly shrubs, interacts with the snow and affects Earth's albedo, or the reflection of the Sun's rays from the surface. The paper, which also analyzes the ramifications of continued plant growth in the tundra regions, written by researchers at the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory and at Colorado State University. It presents the first evidence that shrub growth could alter the winter energy balance of the Arctic and subarctic tundra in a substantial way.

The authors measured five adjacent sites in subarctic Alaska. They included areas covered by continuous forest canopy, others dotted with shrubs, and some of barren tundra. They found that mid-winter albedo was greatly reduced where shrubs were exposed and that melting began several weeks earlier in the spring at these locations, as compared to snow-covered terrain. The researchers note, however, that the shrubs' branches produced shade that slowed the rate of melting, so that the snowmelt finished at approximately the same time for all the sites they examined.

Matthew Sturm, lead author of the study, notes that warming in the region seems to have stimulated shrub growth, which further warms the area and creates a feedback effect that can promote higher temperatures and even more growth. This feedback could, in turn, accelerate increases in the shrubs' range and size over the four million square kilometer [1.5 million square mile] tundra and effect significant changes over the region.

"Basically, if tundra is converted to shrubland, more solar energy will be absorbed in the winter than before," Sturm says. And while previous research has shown that warmer temperatures during the Arctic summer enhance shrub growth, "our study is important because it suggests that the winter processes could also contribute to and amplify the rate of the [growth]."

Sturm cites satellite and photographic evidence showing increasing plant growth across the Alaskan, Canadian, and Euro-Asian Arctic and notes that continued warming will likely produce thicker stands of brush that protrude above the snow. The new, brushy landscape would replace the smooth, white environment that currently dominates the Arctic during its 8-10 month winter.

In addition, the increasing shrub cover would impact more than just the energy balance in the Arctic. With nearly 40 percent of the world's soil carbon is stored in Arctic soils, any change in vegetation and energy is likely to trigger a response in the Arctic carbon budget. Scientists are still trying to understand the nature of this response, but Sturm and his coauthors conclude that the feedback effects they describe would undoubtedly accelerate its rate. They conclude that combined effects of increasing shrubs on both energy and carbon could change the Arctic in a way that affects the rest of the world.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Alaskan fish processors use fish oil for fuel

OIL cooked out of fish heads, entrails and skeletons is generating heat and electricity for fish processors on the Aleutian Island of Unalaska, has reported.

Alaska companies are among the first in the world to use fish oil on a large scale as a cheaper, and more environmentally friendly substitute for diesel fuel.

At Unisea Inc., in Dutch Harbor, thousands of gallons of pollock fish oil are mixed each day with diesel and used to power the seaside plant's electrical generators and boilers. Replacing diesel with fish oil cuts costs, as well as harmful emissions such as sulfur and particulates, according to Unisea officials. In addition, the seafood company also saves on the expensive shipping rates it would otherwise have to pay to send the fish waste to buyers outside Alaska, such as aquaculture companies who use the oil as fish feed. The research and development manager for Unisea said that the orangish hue of pollock oil comes from the tiny krill the fish feast on in the Bering Sea. Blending the oil with diesel yields a pale yellowish liquid that leaves no fishy odours. The Unisea company and several fish processors in Alaska have used fish oil to run their boilers for years, but in 2001 Unisea, with the help of state funding, became the first to power its electrical generators with the renewable fuel.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

If you've lost a snake in Alaska, it might be dead

There are not supposed to be snakes in Alaska, but evidence to the contrary may have been found in Haines.

An 8-inch serpent was found crushed on the side of a road, leaving residents wondering if it was wild or an escaped pet.

The snake was found on Small Tracts Road and is not an ideal specimen. Crushed by a car and found on the shoulder of the road, it's dry, discolored and missing most of its skull.

"It could be the first vouchered specimen of a snake in Alaska," he told the Chilkat Valley News. Then again, it could be an escaped pet.

The carcass was in marginal shape.

"Real mashed," Shields said. "It had been there quite some time."

He's still gathering information, however, and urged residents to contact him at the Takshanuk Watershed Council.

"I'd be very curious to hear from anyone who lost a snake," he said.

Submitted by a reader.