Monday, November 16, 2009

The changing Tanana

In the last couple years, the Tanana river by Fairbanks has really changed. In particular, this was noticeable in the late fall before we got permanent snow, when the water levels were in their lowest of the year (since there is no melt of snow or glaciers, and no rain input) - I could cross easily onto the island that's across from the airport (the main mass that does have some channels cutting across it, here). There was just a trickle of water, together with some ice covering bare rocks... but really, no water to speak of. If the dogs hadn't run off ( I stupidly let them both off the leash since I was on 'an island' - well, they could get off that 'island' just as easily as I could get onto it), I would have checked out the main channel of the river, which is now on the far side of that island. As a result of it, all of that water heads straight into the bluff visible in some of our pictures and then continues into the slough (this one). This slough that Sonja played in two years ago as a toddler no longer has the lazy water it had then, nor the mud beaches that provided so much fun. It is amazing to watch that river change so much in such a short time. Glad our house is nowhere next to it - definitely a dangerous neighbor.

This picture is looking west from the end of the trail by the airport (map) towards where the Chena enters the Tanana (by the leaning trees visible on the right side), October 2009:

Summer 2007, same spot:

Closeup (Saphira, Mica, Sonja):

2007, looking upriver from the same spot:

October 2009, looking upriver from across the "river", the only flowing part of the river across which I had to jump across is visible in the lower portion of the picture

I wonder how different that beach where we've been hanging out every now and then will be next summer, if indeed more and more of the water is flowing in a different channel. Time will show.

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