Alaska is not that funny shaped island off of Hawaii
What is it with Alaskans and these extremes? Well it’s not because of being mistaken to live on that small funny shaped island close to Hawaii as many weather reports in newspapers may make people think. Actually, Alaska to scale would cover the US coast-to-coast.
Alaska is a state of extremes …
… and contradictions. The State of Alaska – called the Last Frontier – has quite a collection of extremes. It starts out being the largest state of the US with 663,268 sq mi (1,717,856 km2). At the same time, Alaska is the most sparsely populated state of the US with a population of 738,432 according to the 2015 US Census. This means when you distribute all Alaskans evenly over the state, there would be 1 Alaskan on every 0.898 sq mi (2.326 km2). Despite its sparse population, Alaska is the most populated area north of 60 N in America.
About half of the Alaskans live in Anchorage
This fact explains the sparse road network in the state, and the Alaskan humor in the photo below. Actually, there are many villages that are off the road network. Anything that can’t be produced in the village has to be flown in or be transported there by boat in summer or via a seasonal road in winter.
Despite the low infrastructure regarding the roadnet work, Alaska has two space ports.
What is the northern, eastern and western most state of the US?
What is the highest peak in Alaska?
Alaska holds the US record for the lowest temperature
The coldest temperature ever measured since onset of recording in the US was -80F (-62.2oC). It was observed at Prospect Creek Camp in the Endicott Mountains on January 23, 1971. In Barrow, the minimum average July temperature is 34F (1oC). Interestingly, Alaskans love to have their photo taken at 40 below in a bikini.
Alaska experiences over 1000 earthquakes each year
Alaska is also the US state with the most earthquakes per year as well as with the highest mean annual magnitude of earthquakes (6.7). Being located at the border of two tectonic plates Alaska experiences a magnitude 8 or higher earthquake on average every 14 years. I have been in the Alaska 2002 7.9 earthquake, and I don’t even want to know what an earthquake with a magnitude higher than 7.9 would feel/look/sound like. On average, about 1,000 earthquakes occur in Alaska each month.
Alaska has 130 volcanoes
Being located on the ring of fire, Alaska has 130 volcanoes that have been active within the last two million years. Note that in total, there are 169 volcanoes in the US that are considered to be active. You can find a active volcano catalog at the link. Pavlof is Alaska’s most active volcano.
The longest day
Due to its northern location, Alaska has the longest days and nights. At Barrow, the Sun stays below the horizon from November 19 until January 23. On the contrary, during summer, the Sun stays above the horizon from May 11 to August 2. Thus, Alaskan parents would never say to their kids to come home when it gets dark. They wouldn’t see them for summer.
Obsessions with extremes
With all these extremes, no wonder that there are various competitions to have the _____st of whatever. Add an adjective of your choice at the blank line. For instance, there is a competition that seeks Alaska’a hairiest man. At regional fairs or the State Fair, there are competitions for having grown the largest cabbage, found the largest mushroom, sewn the most beautiful quilt, you get the idea.
Growing the biggest whatever
I don’t participate in these growing competition. However, this year, I grew the biggest kohlrabi I ever have seen in my life. The one in the photo is one of 12 of this size! I think that the kohlrabies grew that big because this summer rain was relatively evenly distributed. There weren’t many dry days between wet days.
In our yard, I also saw the biggest mushroom I have ever seen in my life. Why do vegetables grow that big in Interior Alaska? It’s due to the white nights of the midnight Sun. The plants grow 24-7 for more than 80 days. The late spring leads to a green-up like bushing a button. The short growing season is more than compensated for.
Other extremes …
What are the extremes in the state where you live? Do you grow vegetables? I am curious.
Like the photos? If so, please feel free to pin them to your own Pinterest board.
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Photos of me: G. Kramm
Other photos: N. Mölders
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