When writing about Fashion, Life and Science at the Last Frontier, it is sometimes unavoidable to use some technical terms. Since it’s normal that even a highly educated person may not be familiar with the definition, I created this glossary of fashion and science terms for you. It helps to explain the fashion and science terms without disturbing the flow of post reading. Thus, you hopefully get a great reader experience. Links from this glossary of fashion and science terms open in a new window. All terms are explained in alphabetic order. Note this glossary is work in progress. If there is a term you are looking for and can’t find it here, please let me know by email. Thanks for helping improving the High Latitude Style glossary of fashion and science terms.

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Style blogger wearing a silk scarf, bold striped eShakti skirt and leather top for a work outfitHigh Latitude Style Glossary of Fashion and Science Terms


Accessories are everything a person can wear, except their clothes.
Active layer
refers to the uppermost soil layer that overlays permafrost. The active layer thaws and freezes annually. In this layer, plants can root.


Balto was the lead dog of Gunnar Kaasen, who delivered the serum against diphteria in Nome on Front Street. Read the story on the serum run here.


Conduction transmits heat (or electricity) thru a material when a difference of temperature (or of electrical potential) exists between adjacent regions. This process occurs without movement of the material. Example, the iron handle of an iron pan becomes hot when the pan is on a hot stove. In clothing, conduction can occur between your skin and the garment as well as between the garment and the ambient air.
Conveyor Belt
In meteorology, the term conveyor belt refers to how air masses of different temperature and moisture states move in an extra-tropical cyclone, i.e. in a mid-latitude low pressure system, in its maturing state. In such a low pressure system, typically three distinct large air streams exist called the warm, cold, and dry conveyor belts.
The conveyor belts transport air horizontally and vertically. In the northern hemisphere, the warm conveyor belt transports subtropical warm, moist air northward. As warm, moist air is lighter than cold air, the warm conveyor belt gradually lifts the warm, moist air over the cold air north of the low toward the 300 hPa level. There, the warm conveyor belt turns east, and joins the upper level jet stream. Concurrently, the movement of air around the upper level low pulls the warm conveyor belt to the west. Therefore, the warm conveyor belt looks like a S, which often is visible in satellite imagery in the high level clouds. The cold conveyor belt moves form north of the warm front clockwise into the upper level west winds. Note that observations are contradictory regarding the existence of the cold conveyor belt. The dry conveyor belt exists for continuity reasons. When air is lifted, air must sink elsewhere. Since the upper levels of the troposphere are usually dry and cold, this sinking air produces the cloud-free area behind the low that one also can see in satellite imagery.


Fata Morgana
See irage
Filling power
The term filling power is used to rank down coats. The higher the filling power of a down coat, the more air can be trapped in a specific weight of downs. Read more on how to find the best down coat for your climate region.


In weaved fabrics, gauge refers to the number of shots a garment has per inch. The finer the yarn the higher is gauge value. However, in knit fabrics, gauge gives the number of needle stiches per inch. This number can vary with the knit pattern (ribbed, cable knit, etc.) even for the same yarn. Furthermore, the larger the needles the lower is the gauge for same yarn. In knitting, the gauge also depends on the tension applied during the production process. In hand-knitted pieces, tension and hence, gauge may vary even within the piece.
Gray, Tammy
Tammy Gray has a banking career of 28 years working in corporate and community banks as a commercial lender. She has used her talents and expertise as a mortgage specialist working for an Alaska non-profit organization. Furthermore, she is a philanthropist, and business owner as well as a mentor for (young) women wanting to build their own business.


Hicks, India
India Hicks is UK born designer know her from her modeling career that started at Ralph Lauren. She was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding of the late Princess Diana.


Ice Fog
Ice fog is a common winter phenomenon in Fairbanks during extended extremely cold weather. Typically under these conditions, we have an inversion. This means that the temperature increases with height instead of decreasing with height. Inversions suppress vertical mixing of air. Thus, all the pollutants emitted into the inversion layer stay in the inversion layer. Over time water vapor and aerosols accumulate. The aerosols serve as cloud and ice nuclei. Once the air is humid enough, the aerosols start swelling. Small droplets build that may freeze. These haze or ice-fog plumes form in the near stagnant air. Since wind speeds are close to zero these plumes move slowly. Compared to their movement, their density changes fast.

fashion blogger in styled outerwear with ice fog above her head
Me in front of ice fog that exists above the street. Note that ice fog can become a hazard when driving. With a sudden, the car in front of you vanishes! It was 20 yard in front of you just a second ago. You are driving 10 mph into the fog, and just hope the car in front of you keeps its speed. Sometimes when you are at a traffic light and the lights turn green, the car in front of you vanishes in the fog made by its own exhausts.
Insolation is the exposure to solar radiation, i.e., to the Sun’s rays.
In clothing, insulation serves to keeping cold air from reaching a wearer’s skin, and, hence, reducing the loss of body heat. Often the term warmth is used instead.


See Pyrite
Kuspuk refers to a hooded button-less shirt traditionally worn by Alaskan Native. Its length can be anywhere between just below the hips to below the knees. Traditionally, it was sewn from animal hides. Today, kuspuks are made of bright cotton, calico, velvet or corduroy fabric with zig-zag trimming along the hood, pockets and skirt. Kuspuks made for women come also in printed cotton fabric. Winter versions have fleece lining. The kuspuk has to be put on like a pullover. Most people it wear them as top, i.e. over their underwear. Women wear it with or without pants. Due to its bulky comfortable cut, the kuspuk is very popular among Alaskans of all heritage. You can find photos of me in a kuspuk at the link. You can buy customer made kuspuks at the link.


Mary Shields
see Shields, Mary
Mirages are often visible in spring and fall over the Alaska Range. They form when the surface heats strongly, and so does the air in a thin layer above the surface. This process leads to a density inversion with a layer of lower density being underneath an air layer with higher density (the colder air). Of course such conditions are highly unstable, and do not stay long. However, under these conditions the sun rays get deflected at the layers of different density. Consequently, one sees the objects, in this case, the mountains mirrored upside down.


Particulate Matter
Particular matter (PM) refers to airborne particles that can be from natural sources like dust, silicates, pollen, sea-salt, volcanic ash and gas-to-particle conversion (a process similar to droplet formation by condensation) and anthropogenic sources. Particles are emitted by any combustion process. Depending on the fuel composition, the particles can be a mix of all kind of stuff. This means they are not a chemical element or a molecule. Particulate matter can be sulfate, nitrate, ammonium, elemental carbon, and various combination. Particles can grow by collection of each other as well as by water vapor or other gases depositing on them. Most particulate matter can serve as cloud condensation nuclei.
Permafrost is defined as a soil layer that stays frozen for at least two consecutive years. The layer above the permafrost starts thawing every spring and refreezes in fall. This layer is called the active layer. In this layer, plants can root and grow. The deeper this layer is, the taller vegetation can grow. Consequently, you can recognize permafrost without measuring the soil temperatures. Permafrost can destroy constructions.
A plugin is an electricity outlet that provides electric power for the block heater of cars in the sub-Arctic. The heater and plugin are connected by an extension cord while parking for an extended time at temperatures below zero Fahrenheit (-18oC). Plugins help to 1) reduce emissions from cold-starts and 2) start the car at all. For photos see what is a plugin?
Porosity in clothing refers to the fraction of all air spaces in a fabric both between yarns and inside them. Soil porosity is defined as the space in a soil volume that is not soil. It can be filled partly or totally as well as a mix of air, water or ice, and in polluted soils also hold the pollutant. It is the amount of water that a soil matrix has at saturation, i.e. when all soil pores are filled with water.
Pyrite also known as Katzengold forms in cubes in nature. This iron sulfide mineral often occurs with other sulfides or oxides in sedimentary rock, quartz veins, coal or metaphoric rock. Sometimes you see brass gold touches in granite floors. That’s pyrite. In fossils, pyrite often replaced the former animals soft tissue. Katzengold oxides fast when in contact with oxygen. Thus, the fact that in geologically very, very old sedimentary rocks of former river beds in South Africa, one can find rounded pyrite grains means that at that ancient time, there has not yet been oxygen in the atmosphere. These locations are the same ancient river beds where also real gold is found.


Shields, Mary,
Mary Shields is an Alaskan heroine. She was the first woman to finish the Iditarod, a sled dog race in remembrance of the serum run to Nome. Today she lives out in Gold Stream near Fairbanks and provides tours thru her kennel for tourists in summer and offers sled dog rides in winter.
Snow metamorphism
Snow metamorphism refers to the change of snow density and snow crystal structure over its lifetime. When a snow crystal hits the ground or the snow surface, it joins a process called snow metamorphism. The triple point is the temperature and water vapor pressure condition at which the solid, liquid and gas phase of water all co-exist. Since the water vapor pressure over water and ice differ and the water vapor pressure differs over convex and concave surfaces, a minimal  temperature, water vapor, and  pressure variations can quickly change the appearance of an ice crystal in the snow pack. Furthermore, when melting occurs, the water in the snowpack is subject to gravity and percolates through the pores of the snow thereby transporting heat as it may be warmer than the snow crystals deeper in the snowpack. Here the water may refreeze thereby releasing heat which further warms the snow pack. However, even at temperatures way below the freezing point, the ice crystals of a snowpack already change their form due to the load above, the diurnal temperature variations in the upper part of the snowpack, and the different water vapor pressure over concave and convex surfaces. Thus, the beautiful dendrites loose water vapor at their edges that then deposits on the crystal to form more hexagonal plate-type crystals. Concurrently, the snowpack becomes more compact and its density increases. The density of dendrites is less than 100 kg per cubic meter, while that of clear ice (from the freezer) is about 916 kg per cubic meter. Later in springtime, a snowpack turns into a pack of ice sphere of the size of needle pin heads. Their density is about 400 to 450 kg per cubic meter.
Sütterlin is the historical form of German handwriting. In Germany of the 1960s, students had to learn this writing in 4th grade for improvement of their handwriting skills. Students started learning Latin letters in first grade. Learning Sütterlin enabled the students to read letters from their grandparents who still used to write this way.


Tanaka, Tricia
Tricia Tanaka Grassroots fashion designer
The Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS) encompasses about 800 miles (1,300 km) of pipeline, several hundred miles of feeder pipelines, 12 pump stations, and the Valdez Marine Terminal. Due to the very complex terrain, the pipeline is above the ground in some places and below the ground in other places (See this post to learn about insider travel tips and pipeline facts).
Togo was Leonhard Seppala‘s lead dog during the diphtheria serum run to Nome.  Seppela trusted Togo‘s experience to smell open water and recognize thin sea-ice. By relying on his dog’s nose, he took the short-cut over the Norton Sound which is very hazardous due to the strong water currents. This shortcut saved one day in the delivery time and hence many lives. Therefore, for Alaskans, Togo is the real hero of the serum run. There is even a monument of him in Anchorage. Today the Iditarod remembers the historic run.


Inuit word for woman’s knife. Inuit, Yupik, Aleut, Athabaskan and other Alaskan Native women use the ulu as an all purpose knife. The original versions have caribou antler, walrus ivory or musk-ox horn serve as handle and a slate as the cutting surface. Typically, the modern version has a steel cutting surface and a hardwood handle. Home-made ulus are cut from a wood-saw. The knife differs in form depending on the region of origin. Industrial-made ulus are sold with cutting boards to tourists. They are available in gift stores in Alaska. The use of ulus dates back to 2500 BC. Note airlines prohibit ulus as carry-on.


Vegan fashion
Vegan encompasses clothes, shoes, bags and accessories made from non-animal sources. The material of vegan fashion varies widely. For instance, vegan leather can be made from cork or fossil oil, which are known as super-hide and faux leather aka pleather, respectively (See this post for the procedure to make Super Hide from cork).  Vegan jewelry and watches often consists of wood from downed trees. Typically, cotton, bamboo, hemp and other sustainable resources or fossil oil serve to make vegan clothing. For more on where to find vegan fashion see this link.

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