Arctic Life

The Arctic is swarming with a wide range of scientists, from sea ice physicists, to meteorologists and climatologists, marine biologists, Arctic tundra ecologists, ornithologists, and archaeologists, to name a few.  The formal partnership between Paul Shepson and Peter Lourie began with Peter’s work interviewing scientists involved with a project called “OASIS” (Ocean-Atmosphere-Sea Ice-Snowpack).  Here, these and other scientists try their hand at explaining what they do and the passion behind why they do it. 

Featured Characters

Physical scientist working for Environment Canada’s Air Quality Research Division

Iñupiaq Elder from Wainwright, AK, descendant of a Boston whaler

President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association and Iñupiaq Elder 

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Villanova University 

Owner of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant

Executive Director, BASC

Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources.

Research Physical Scientist

Areas Wildlife Biologist, Alaska’s Department of Fish & Game

Dr. Anne Jensen

Dr. Anne Jensen

Physical scientist working for Environment Canada’s Air Quality Research Division
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Meet Anne Jensen Arctic Archaeologist

Anne talks about how she began work on Nuvuk an Iñupiaq settlement at Point Barrow, Alaska.

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Why Live in the Arctic?

Anne talks about her love of the Arctic, everythin about itg, the long summer days, the sky, the plants, the people, one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The most interesting puzzle for her is why and how did people migrate when they did, what set it off, how then did people change into who they are today across the Arctic, and what can that tell us about climate change which happened during that time and still does. You can’t take climate change out of an understanding of cultural change. So why do some people adapt to change and some don’t?

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Archaeology Across the Arctic

Ann talks about the interior of the North Slope not being explored archaeologically. Evidence of people on the North Slope over 10,000 years old. The coast has changed and been lost so we don’t have coastal sites before 4000 BC. Not a lot of sites found and dated. People have been attracted to large coastal villages.

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Conducting Research at the Cemetery at Nuvuk

With Inupiaq elder approval, ancient and modern dna analysis of North Slope peoples. They’ll finish the ancient DNA and then follow up with the modern DNA analysis and correlate the findings.

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Dating Ancient Sites on the North Slope

Anne talks about dating of ancient sites in the Arctic and the relationship of ancient peoples across the Arctic, how people can communicate in their own language across 4 thousand miles of territory

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Eskimo Whaling Today & in Ancient Times

Anne talks about the whaling of the Inupiaq Eskimos today and thousands of years ago and how the transition was made from traditional whaling to Yankee whaling tools in the early 1900s, which is still being used today. She also talks about how bowhead whales may live a few hundred years; ivory and stone points pre 1880 have been found in recently caught whales. She also talks about an elder who once saw an 80-foot whale!

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Eddie Bodfish

Eddie Bodfish

Iñupiaq Elder from Wainwright, AK, descendant of a Boston whaler

Eddie grew up in Wainright, Alaska, a small Inupiaq village south of Barrow. Here he talks about what it was like to grow up out at fish camp for three months of the year and then start whaling for his father’s crew until he went to high school in Sitka, Alaska.

He talks about how whaling crews had to walk 9-15 miles out on the ice to get the whales because Wainright, unlike Barrow, is tucked into a bay, and to get the whales, the whalers have to walk out to the open sea where the whales pass during migrations

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Being a Whaler

Eddie grew up in Wainright, Alaska, a small Inupiaq village south of Barrow. Here he talks about what it was like to grow up out at fish camp for three months of the year and then start whaling for his father’s crew until he went to high school in Sitka, Alaska.

He talks about how whaling crews had to walk 9-15 miles out on the ice to get the whales because Wainright, unlike Barrow, is tucked into a bay, and to get the whales, the whalers have to walk out to the open sea where the whales pass during migrations

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Stories of Whaling

Eddie talks about his role as project manager for the DEW line (Distant Early Warning) and for building airports in the Arctic, which he did for 24 years. He also talks about missing the whaling because he misses the stories of the old whalers that are told in whale camp.

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Eugene Brower

Eugene Brower

President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association, Whaling Captain, and Iñupiaq Elder 

Inupiaq Eskimo elder and whaling captain Eugene Brower knows the ice in the Chukchi Sea off Barrow, Alaska, through many thousands of hours hunting the bowhead whale. Out there, he has seen some amazing things.

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Alaska in the Early Days: Part One

Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower talks about living outside Barrow, Alaska, in the early days. Sod houses, stoves they used, dog sleds, ice skates they made.

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Alaska In the Early Days: Part Two

Sod houses, fish storage, bone runners…

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Breaking Trail & Finding Whales

Breaking trails to the open water during the spring bowhead whale hunt and finding whales

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President of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association, Alaska

Eugene talks about being mayor of the city of Barrow, Alaska, the northernmost city in the United States. And about being president of the Barrow Whaling Captains Association for more than three decades.

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Whaling Part One: Brower talks about growing up whaling

As a young boy Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower from Barrow, Alaska, moved up the ranks to Harpooner and finally to whaling captain. On a Sunday in March 2009, he took some time out to talk about whaling

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Whaling Part Two: Growing up hunting for the bowhead

As a young boy Iñupiaq Eskimo elder Eugene Brower from Barrow, Alaska, moved up the ranks to Harpooner and finally to whaling captain. On a Sunday in March 2009, he took some time out to talk about whaling

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Whaling Part Three: From Harpooner to Whaling Captain
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Whaling Part Four: 1970s from subsistence to cash economy

Changes have come to the Iñupiaq Eskimo community after oil was struck. From dog sleds to snow machines. The expense of continuing the Eskimo tradition

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The Whaling Camp & What the Whales know and See

Whaling camps and what the whales see and know and how the whalers must learn to keep quiet and undetected if there is to be a successful hunt.

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Dr. Amanda Grannas

Dr. Amanda Grannas

Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Villanova University, Villanova, PA

She was in Barrow in 2008 and 2009 (along with several students) studying the cycling of persistent organic pollutants in air, snow and ice, as well as their potential photochemical breakdown in this region. Her research group is interested in a number of environmentally-relevant topics including cycling of pollutants in the environment, pollutant photochemistry and remediation techniques. She is also involved in a number of education activities including development of environmental chemistry curriculum for K-12 and inclusion of high school students in research activities.

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Why study pollutants in Arctic snow
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Running Experiments in Snow

Amanda takes us outside to see her experiment in the snow

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Amanda's Lab

Amanda shows us in the lab how she processes samples taken from the snow

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What it's like to work in Alaska

Dr. Grannas talks about working in Barrow, Alaska, where Inupiaq whalers still practice their ancient traditions.

Fran Tate

Fran Tate

Owner of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant

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Fran: Part 1

Fran Tate of Pepe’s North of the Border Mexican Restaurant talks about opening up in Barrow, Alaska

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Fran: Part 2

Fran Tate of Pepe’s talks about being an electrical engineer and coming to Barrow in the 1970s and the community spirit of the Arctic

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Fran: Part 3

Fran’s compares growing up in the lower 48 to living here in the Arctic

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Fran: Part 4

Fran gives her take on goose poop..

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Fran: Part 5

Fren speaks about recent changes in Barrow, Alaska

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Fran: Part 6

Fran talks about growing up poor and coming to Barrow decades ago where she ran a sewage and water business while opening her Mexican restaurant.

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Dr. Glenn Sheehan

Dr. Glenn Sheehan

Founding Executive Director of BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium)

Dr. Sheehan is the founding Executive Director of the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium (BASC), which started in 1996. BASC provides scientists with field logistical support, including serving as the ashore contact for U.S. and foreign science icebreaker missions. In a recent year over 626 visiting researchers were assisted.Prior to BASC’s creation Dr. Sheehan was principal investigator for the three year NSF-funded Point Franklin Archaeology project on the North Slope.

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Why the Arctic is a Great Place to Live

“What I love about the Arctic is the people. If it wasn’t for the people, the Arctic would be a nice place to visit. The people here make it a great place to live.”

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Working as an Archaeologist and then Director of BASC

The Barrow Arctic Science Consortium is centered in the old Navy Arctic Research Lab in Barrow, Alaska

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Dr. Richard K. "Savik" Glenn

Richard K. "Savik" Glenn

Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources.

RICHARD K. “Savik” GLENN is Arctic Slope Regional Corporation’s Executive Vice President of Lands and Natural Resources. Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (“ASRC”) is the Alaska Native-owned regional corporation representing more than eight thousand Inupiat Eskimos of Alaska’s North Slope. The shareholders of ASRC own surface and subsurface title to nearly five million acres of Alaskan North Slope lands with oil, gas, coal and mineral resources. Richard is a member of ASRC’s Board of Directors. From 1995 to 2001, Richard headed Alaska’s North Slope Borough Department of Energy Management, where he supervised the energy programs for all of the North Slope Borough villages.

Richard received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from San Jose State University in 1985 and a Master of Science degree in Geology from the University of Alaska (UAF) in 1991. Richard has special expertise in resource development in an Arctic setting, and is well-versed in on and offshore Arctic geologic processes. He is a certified professional geologist in the state of Alaska, and holds positions on many boards and commissions, most of them dedicated to education and scientific research. In addition to other postings, he has twice been appointed by the President to the United States Arctic Research Commission, is the Board President of the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium, and has served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Ilisagvik College.

Richard also serves as co-captain of the Savik Ahmaogak subsistence whaling crew. He is a member of the Suurimmaaniichuat Eskimo dance group and a budding rock-and-roll keyboardist.

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Iñupiaq Knowledge, Teachers, and the Arctic

Glenn talks about the beauty of traditional Eskimo knowlege and how it works. He talks about his role as a whaler in his family crew, and he tells a harrowing story about being out on the ice hunting the bowhead when the ice broke off and he and his crew started to flow away and were rescued by helicopter.

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The intersection between Eskimo and scientific knowledge

Richard’s mother an Inupiaq Eskimo married Richard’s father who came to the Arctic to work on the DEW Line (a system of radar stations set up in the Arctic to detect incoming Soviet bombers during the Cold War) and Richard grew up in two worlds–that of San Francisco during the year and with his Inupiaq relatives in the summers, until at 20 he moved permanently to the Arctic that he loves so much

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Yves Brower

Yves Brower

Yves talks about growing up in Mass and always wanting to come back to the land of his ancestors. Then he makes the move and has never been happier

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Meet Yves Brower

Yves talks about growing up in Mass and always wanting to come back to the land of his ancestors. Then he makes the move and has never been happier

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Hunting on the North Slope

Yves talks about preparing for, then leaving on a long hunt. How he makes camp in the snow and why he loves hunting so much

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Why Yves loves the Arctic and Barrow in particular

Yves goes into detail about why living in Barrow is so great. It’s all about family and the

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Dr. Mattew Sturm

Dr. Mattew Sturm

Research Physical Scientist conducing wide-ranging geophysical studies on snow in high latittudes, Fairbanks, AK

Dr. Sturm is responsible for conducting wide-ranging geophysical studies on snow in high latitudes. His work has taken him from the Antarctic to the Arctic, and he has been the leader of more than 30 expeditions in winter in pursuit of his science. He is based at the Alaska Office in Fairbanks, but collaborates with a wide range of scientists both at CRREL and elsewhere. His most recent work focuses on the role of snow cover on climate, with particular attention to snow ecology, and climate change resulting from snow-vegetation interactions.

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Why Study the Arctic

Matthew Sturm talks about the importance of studying the Arctic and how it is connected to the rest of the world

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Love of the Arctic

Matthew Sturm, ice and snow expert from Fairbanks, Alaska, talks about his love of the Arctic

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Long Traverses in the Arctic for Science

Matthew Sturm, ice and snow expert from Fairbanks, Alaska, talks about his long scientific trips across the Arctic on snowmachines.

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The Real Arctic

Matthew Sturm talks about the contradictions, the complexities of the Arctic

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Geoff Carroll

Geoff Carroll

Areas Wildlife Biologist, Alaska’s Department of Fish & Game

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Area Wildlife Biologist

Geoff Carroll, Area Wildlife Biologist for Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game, talks about his job looking after all the animals, especially caribou, in a 56,000 sq mile region.

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Geoff's Polar Bear Story

Geoff Carroll tells the story of an early morning polar bear in a whale census tent out on the ice.

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Love of the Arctic, the Sea Ice & the Freedom of Open Spaces but Big Changes Afoot

Geoff talks about the freedom of the open spaces but also about the changes that have come and are coming to the Arctic

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Moving to the Arctic & a Bowhead Whale Census

Wildlife biologist Geoff Carroll in Barrow, Alaska, talks about the extirpation and reintroduction of muskox on the North Slope.

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Muskox on the North Slope

Wildlife biologist Geoff Carroll in Barrow, Alaska, talks about the extirpation and reintroduction of muskox on the North Slope.

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Sled Dogs

Geoff Carroll, area wildlife biologist for Alaska’s Dept of Fish and Game, hitches up his sled dogs. After taking his sled out onto the ocean ice, Geoff talks a little about Greenland Huskies like the ones he took to the North Pole with Will Steger in 1986.

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To the North Pole

In 1986 Geoff helped Will Steger and others reach the North Pole by sled. In the first month they had only gone 100 miles and soon had to shed a great amount of gear in order to reach the pole. From years of working with the Inupiaq Eskimos Geoff knew the ice conditions and helped read the changing ice so that the expedition could make it a successful trip.

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