But one Alaska calendar pushes the envelope when it comes to value. Beyond its stunning images, the 2008 Alaska Coastal Calendar offers Alaskans and visitors alike a chance to actually learn something - in this case about the impacts of a warmer climate on the Last Frontier.
Climate change in Alaska is the theme of the 2008 International Polar Year edition of the award-winning Alaska Coastal Calendar, available directly from Alaska Sea Grant and from outlets across the state.
The 16-month wall calendar features captivating images of Alaska's amazing coastal wildlife, breathtaking scenery, and hardy people. Packed into the margins and sidebars are informative narratives, illustrations, and graphics that highlight research being done by IPY scientists to understand Alaska's changing climate, and what all the warming means for the land, sea, atmosphere, and inhabitants of the 49th state.
"Photographs often tell us Earth's best stories. This Alaska Coastal Calendar combines useful information with extraordinary images and, in doing so, conveys the scale and scope of Alaska's coastal environments and the far-reaching impacts of change in the arctic region," said Wendy Warnick, executive director of the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S., headquartered in Fairbanks, Alaska.
Kathy Kurtenbach, marketing coordinator for Alaska Sea Grant, said the calendar doesn't debate the causes of arctic climate change.
"We leave that issue for others," Kurtenbach said. "Our focus has been to offer accurate, unbiased, educational insight into the results of a changing climate that we all are seeing-changes both good and bad-to help people understand what is happening across the state. This is a valuable resource for all of us-residents, visitors, scientists, teachers, and students."
Each month is devoted to a different theme. March focuses on glaciers, and November is about Alaska Native culture, while August explores sea ice, for example.
Other themes include permafrost, atmosphere, oceans, vegetation, fish and shellfish, whales, and polar bears. The photos and narratives elaborate on the changes being experienced and the scientific research being done to better understand these changes.
The 2008 Alaska Coastal Calendar is the third in Alaska Sea Grant's annual award-winning calendar series.
"This beautiful calendar provides critical insights into our climate and the implications of global warming. It is a significant resource," said Deborah Williams of Alaska Conservation Solutions in Anchorage.
The calendar can be purchased for $12 at bookstores, gift shops, and other vendors across the state, or online at Amazon.com, keyword Alaska Coastal Calendar. The calendar also can be purchased from Alaska Sea Grant directly either online or by calling toll-free 1-888-789-0090.
To view sample pages and order online, go online to the Alaska Sea Grant Bookstore at http://seagrant.uaf.edu/bookstore/pubs/SG-ED-58.html.