Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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From Our Listeners
Alaska and Yukon Headlines
A 300-mile trip by foot and packraft from the Dalton Highway to the Arctic Ocean brings a new appreciation of transformation and tension facing the Arctic -- as well as its singular beauty.November 22, 2013
Ice Coats Southcentral; Snow, Ice Expected Overnight
Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage
Freezing rain created hazardous driving conditions in Southcentral Alaska today.
Team Rubicon To Help Kotlik Clean Up After Storm
Zachariah Hughes, KNOM – Nome
Team Rubicon, the disaster-relief NGO made up of retired military personnel, is heading to Kotlick on Monday. The same group has sent volunteers to Haiti, Pakistan, Chile, and, most recently, the Philippines. It’s part of the multi-agency effort to help communities in Western Alaska clean-up after powerful storms two weeks ago.
Alaska SeaLife Center Using Resurrection Bay For Heat
Anne Hillman, APRN – Anchorage
As energy bills rise for most people across the state, the Alaska Sea Life Center’s are actually dropping. That’s because they’re using the cold waters of Resurrection Bay to heat their building.
Department of Defense Releases Arctic Strategy Document
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Department of Defense released a 16-page Arctic strategy document today. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talked about it at an event in Nova Scotia. The report states the arctic is at a ‘strategic inflection point’, transforming from a region of relative isolation to one of increasing access to resource extraction, fishing and tourism as sea ice recedes faster than projected.
Richardson Highway Speed Limit Changed To 65 Between Delta Junction, Valdez
Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks
The State Department of Transportation began changing speed limit signs this week along the Richardson Highway between Delta Junction and Valdez from 55 to 65 miles per hour.
How Fairbanks Covered JFK’s Assassination
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fifty years ago when news of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy spread around the world, Alaska’s connection to the Lower 48 was limited by technology.
JBER Soldier Receives Soldier’s Medal
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A JBER soldier was awarded the highest military honor for an act of heroism in a non war setting yesterday. Sergeant 1st Class John Kerns received the Soldier’s Medal for pulling a man from a burning car after it crashed and before it exploded a few moments later.
AK: City Under One Roof
Travis Gilmour, Alaska Public Media
It takes a different kind of person to live in Whittier, Alaska. The town is accessible only by water or by tunnel, the weather is extreme, and the only housing option is an ugly apartment building. But the community has managed to win over grade school teacher Erika Thompson.
300 Villages: Portage Creek
This week, we’re going to the southwest Alaska where a self-sufficient couple makes up the entire year round population of Portage Creek. The community is a speck on the map about 30 miles southeast of Dilligham. Chris Carr lives in Portage Creek with his wife Leona.
Freezing rain created hazardous driving conditions across Southcentral Alaska today and the roads aren’t much better tonight.
Freezing rain began coating snow at around 9 a.m. By noon cars were stranded across Anchorage and the People Mover Bus system shut down.
Anchorage Police Department Spokesperson Anita Shell says icy road conditions caused traffic problems.
“The majority of our crashes were occurring in the morning hours up until about 2 o’clock. It seems like it’s tapered off right now for the moment,” Shell said. “We’ve had reported 30 accidents today. Three additional accidents that had minor injuries and then 46 vehicles in distress. Most of those ended up in the ditch or some other method of breakdown.”
People Mover buses resumed their regular schedules around 3 o’clock after suspending service for more than three hours. Officials say riders should expect significant delays and reroutes and they urge riders to be careful walking to and from bus stops.
Icy conditions stretch beyond Anchorage from Seward to as far North as Talkeetna. The Valley Mover Bus system in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley is operating on a delayed schedule and plans to make evening runs to help people get back home from work in Anchorage.
Some 65 road incidents in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley were called into Alaska State Troopers by 1 p.m. today, according to a spokesperson for Alaska State Troopers.
The Matsu Borough says there were at least three separate school bus accidents this morning, including one where the bus slid onto its side off a road. There were 14 students on board. Three students reportedly suffered minor injuries.
After school activities are canceled in the Mat-Su School District and in Anchorage. Both districts advise delays are likely for school busses transporting students home.
University of Alaska Anchorage closed at noon.
Matanuska Electric Association reports 500 members are without power in Butte, Meadow Lakes, and the area from Sutton to Matanuska Glacier. Officials say the outage was a combination of icy and windy weather and they are working to get the power back on.
A winter weather advisory remains in effect for snow in Anchorage overnight and for snow and freezing rain in Wasilla and Glenn Allen.
Anchorage School District:
- Classes will continue as normal.
- All after-school activities are canceled.
University of Alaska Anchorage:
- Anchorage, Eagle River and JBER campuses of UAA will be closing at 12:45 p.m. today due to icy road conditions.
- Classes beginning after 12:45 p.m. are canceled.
- UAA hockey game this evening at Sullivan arena will continue to be played as scheduled.
Alaska Pacific University
- Closing at 1:30 PM today Friday, Nov. 22.
- All classes, activities, and performances are cancelled for the remainder of the day.
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson:
- JBER has instituted an early release, allowing non-essential personnel to go home.
- Road Condition: Red – Drivers will exercise caution and reduce speeds by 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.
- Alaska Special Olympics bowling has been cancelled for TODAY. Weather permitting, events will continue tomorrow and Sunday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- The National American Indian Heritage event that was scheduled for 1 p.m. at the Talkeetna Theater on JBER-Elmendorf, has been cancelled due to weather.
- People Mover buses have resumed operation as of 2:50pm.
- AnchorRIDES has canceled service except for life sustaining trips and returning riders transported this morning, back to their home locations. All other trips are canceled, including Eagle River Connect and Anchorage Neighborhood Health Center.
- Aiming to have 4:30pm and 6:30pm buses to pick up passengers in Anchorage. Subject to change.
Mat-Su Borough School District:
- All after school and Saturday activities are canceled due to weather.
- Anchorage and Mat-Su state offices Will close at 2:00pm due to inclement weather.
- Will be open, but parents need to get children picked up as early as possible from Camp Fire given the deteriorating road conditions.
Team Rubicon, the disaster-relief NGO made up of retired military personnel, is heading to Kotlik on Monday. The same group has sent volunteers to Haiti, Pakistan, Chile, and, most recently, the Philippines. It’s part of the multi-agency effort to help communities in Western Alaska clean-up after powerful storms two weeks ago.
As energy bills are rising for most people across the state, the Alaska SeaLife Center’s are actually dropping. That’s because they’re using the cold waters of Resurrection Bay to heat their building.
Agnes is a seven-month-old sea otter pup who was rescued and sent to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. She’s swimming around a pool with another orphaned otter.
The center’s marine mammal curator Derek Woodie says the otters don’t have any blubber, they rely on their thick coats of hair to stay warm.
“What they do is groom themselves and they’ll blow air into that fur and they create like a little bubble of air, almost like a wet suit, and it keeps them warm in that 40 degree water,” Woodie said.
That same chilly water rushing into Agnes’ pool is also being used to heat most of the building.
“It’s hard to explain, it doesn’t actually seem logical,” Tara Reimer Jones, president of the SeaLife Center, said. “I’m actually trained as an engineer and it still doesn’t quite make sense to me, but essentially we’re running reverse refrigerators.”
The SeaLife Center converted to the seawater-heat pump system to save money – tons of money.
In 2008, the center heated with oil and their energy bill was $1.2 million. Last year they spent less than half that amount. With savings like that, the entire system will be paid off in eight and a half years.
“Being able to reduce our energy costs as much as we have has enabled us to stay successful and be open to the public and keep our costs under control,” she said.
So how does it work? Facilities Director Darryl Schaefermeyer takes me to see the system.
First, they pump seawater into the building. They already do this to fill tanks and pools for the animals.
“Right now we’re probably pumping about 3,000 gallons per minute of sea water constantly through the building,” Schaefermeyer said.
Some of that seawater goes into a tall, thin metal box called a heat exchanger. You know when you open your window in winter and all of your heat rushes outside? It’s trying to warm up the cold air. The same thing happens inside of the heat exchanger. The seawater runs on one side of a titanium plate. On the other side is basically water and antifreeze. The heat from the seawater rushes into the antifreeze mix, warming it up to the same temperature. Schaefermeyer says it then goes to the heat pump, which is run by electricity.
“The refrigerant comes into contact with that 47 degree water temperature, causes it to boil, turns it into a vapor,” Schaefermeyer said. “Then there’s compressors in the heat pump that compress that vapor and it gets very hot.”
That compressed vapor produces the 120-degree water that heats the building and the pavement. Then the antifreeze loops back to the seawater to start the process all over again. Schaefermeyer says for every unit of energy added to the system, you get out three units of heat. And it’s more efficient with higher loads. He hopes the technology will be used beyond the SeaLife Center.
“We want to be able to ultimately see this technology exported into areas where we can heat downtown business districts, communities, literally with this heat,” he said.
And it is possible. Andy Baker, the consultant who helped design the Center’s system, says ocean heat pump technology is already widely used in Norway and Sweden. You just need community buy-in – and cheap electricity.
“If you’ve got low cost hydropower and expensive heating oil or propane, that’s where you’re going to see the heating pumps going in first,” Baker said.
Baker says people are even starting to install small-scale projects that work on the same concept but draw heat from the ground or lakes instead. But the technology isn’t useful in some of the communities that need it most.
“Its tougher because the cost of power is usually a lot higher. The cost of power, for example in Dutch Harbor, is about 42 cents per kilowatt hour,” Baker said. “That’s more than twice what it is in Seward, so the economics aren’t nearly as favorable there because of the high cost of power because it’s made from diesel fuel.”
But in Seward, where electricity is supplied by Chugach in Anchorage and runs about 12 cents per kilowatt hour, the innovation helps keep Agnes the otter happily swimming and squeaking.
“Agnes is a very vocal animal. It just happens that way.”
The Department of Defense released a 16 page Arctic Strategy document on Friday.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel talked about it at an event in Nova Scotia. The report states the arctic is at a “strategic inflection point,” transforming from a region of relative isolation to one of increasing access to resource extraction, fishing and tourism as sea ice recedes faster than projected.
The Pentagon’s desired outcome states it wants an arctic that is, “A secure and stable region where U.S. national interests are safeguarded, the U.S. homeland is protected and nations work cooperatively to address challenges.”
The document mentions twice the need to work with the Arctic Council, stating the council has a demonstrated ability to address a range of “soft security” issues, such as search and rescue and oil spill response.
Alaska Natives are referenced in a sentence stating consultation and coordination with them on policy will take place when appropriate.
The document identifies challenges such as funding cuts to DOD that may impact future infrastructure and response needs and taking care to not appear too aggressive in addressing anticipated security risks to avoid the perception that the arctic is being militarized, which could cause friction with other nations.