Explosion Shakes Aleutians' Cleveland Volcano

Tuesday, July 21 2015

Crater of Cleveland Volcano in July 2014. Pavel Izbekov, Alaska Volcano Observatory / University of Alaska Fairbanks photo.

An explosion shook Cleveland Volcano in the east-central Aleutian Islands at 8:17 local time Tuesday morning.

It’s the volcano’s first explosion since November.

Kristi Wallace with the Alaska Volcano Observatory in Anchorage called it “a small, discrete, short-duration event.”

“We aren’t certain whether or not a significant ash cloud was produced, likely not, mostly because it was short duration,” she said.

Federal Authorization Could Force Shell to Change Chukchi Exploraton Plans

Tuesday, June 30 2015

The US Fish and Wildlife Service issued a Letter of Authorization today [Tuesday] to Shell. The authorization allows the oil company to “take small numbers of Polar bears and Pacific walrus incidental to activities occurring during its ‘Outer Continental Shelf 2015’ exploration drilling program in the Chukchi Sea” this summer.  

In an accompanying email, Department of Interior Press Secretary Jessica Kershaw writes that “It is important to note that [the Letter of Authorization] does not green-light Shell’s activity this summer, nor does it preclude Shell’s proposed activity.” According to Kershaw, in order to proceed with exploratory drilling, Shell will have to comply with the “Letter [of Authorization] and strong federal oversight.”

Researcher Talks About the Effects of Marine Plastics on Seabirds

Tuesday, May 19 2015

Unalaska, AK   -  Since 2009, biologists have been collecting sea birds along the Aleutian chain.  What began as a study to look at food webs, became an investigation into what happens when seabirds ingest plastic marine debris.

University of Alaska PhD student Veronica Padula delivered a presentation on her research to an audience in Unalaska Monday night.  She said eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean annually worldwide and it doesn’t break down or biodegrade.

Clean-Up Pulls Old Skiffs, Docks and More from Iliuliuk River

Monday, May 11 2015

Walter Tellman, in yellow, watches with Frank Kelty as a city boom truck tries to lift an old skiff out of the river during Saturday's clean-up. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)

The creek that runs through the heart of Unalaska can support thousands of salmon every year.

It’s also full of decades worth of junk. With salmon runs declining, locals have been leading the charge to clean up the Unalaska Lake and Iliuliuk River watershed.

KUCB’s Annie Ropeik was there on Saturday as they got started.

Q. Tribe to Lead Iliuliuk River Clean-Up

Tuesday, May 05 2015

Debris like this will be removed from the lower river on Saturday. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)

Earlier this year, locals rejected a state-funded plan to restore the lower Iliuliuk River. Now, they’re mounting a clean-up on their own terms.

The Qawalangin Tribe, Unalaska Native Fishermen’s Association and others will pull an estimated five tons of debris out of the river on Saturday.

They’ll use heavy equipment and help from local divers to remove derelict skiffs and sunken trash from near the boat launch at the mouth of the creek.

UNFA and the tribe got a state permit for the project, and are contributing $15,000 each. The city, Ounalashka Corporation and other local companies are donating time and tools.

Southwest's Healthy Sea Stars Could Shed Light on Wasting Disease

Thursday, April 23 2015

Josh Good holds a healthy solaster, or sun star, on an Unalaska beach. (Annie Ropeik/KUCB)

A mysterious virus that’s been wiping out sea stars on the West Coast since 2013 has spread all the way to Southeast Alaska -- but it hasn’t made it to Southwest. That’s what a group of researchers found last month in Unalaska and Kodiak.

Now, they hope the islands’ healthy sea stars will give them new clues about how the virus works. KUCB's Annie Ropeik has more.

Migrating Birds May Carry Viral Baggage

Monday, April 20 2015

The Izembek Refuge sits between two major flyways for migrating birds. (Courtesy of USGS)

Right now, a lethal strain of bird flu is wreaking havoc in the Lower 48.

It’s clear that migrating flocks have something to do with spreading the illness between farms and across continents -- but exactly what is still fuzzy.

As KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal reports, a remote spot in southwest Alaska may hold some clues.

Chilly Weekend Brought a Chance of Thundersnow

Monday, April 20 2015

Vertical storm clouds stacked up quickly over the Eastern Aleutians this weekend. (Lauren Rosenthal/KUCB)

This weekend brought a wintry blast of hail and rain to the Aleutian Islands -- and the potential for a unique kind of storm.

"Thundering snow is not the loud crack or rolling rumble that you hear with normal thunderstorms," says Michael Kutz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "In fact, a lot of people would mistake it for somebody moving something in another room."

AVO Puts Volcano Near Adak Back on Watch

Wednesday, March 25 2015

A composite view of Semisopochnoi in January. (Courtesy: Dave Schneider/AVO)

A volcanic island in the Western Aleutians is stirring again, after several months of quiet.

Semisopochnoi was put on an advisory alert level on Wednesday morning. It’s the first alert at the volcano since a seismic flare-up last June, which was its first activity in almost 30 years.

The Alaska Volcano Observatory says earthquake activity began at Semisopochnoi in January, and increased over the past few days. They also report new seismic tremors they say could indicate magma moving inside the volcano.

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