UW News


July 17, 2017

Bottom-trawling techniques leave different traces on the seabed

boat with net

Bottom trawling techniques are not all created equal. The most common, otter trawling, removes about 6 percent of the animal and plant life from the seabed, while other methods remove closer to one third.


June 29, 2017

UW oceanography senior finds plastic microfibers are common on Puget Sound beaches

person sitting on sand

A UW undergraduate in oceanography sampled tiny pieces of plastic on 12 Puget Sound beaches. She found that plastic fragments are widespread, and include some surprising sources.


May 22, 2017

Weathering of rocks a poor regulator of global temperatures

river flowing through mountain valley

Evidence from the age of the dinosaurs to today shows that chemical weathering of rocks is less sensitive to global temperature, and may depend on the steepness of the surface. The results call into question the role of rocks in setting our planet’s temperature over millions of years.


May 17, 2017

Earth’s atmosphere more chemically reactive in cold climates

researcher in lab

A study of a Greenland ice core shows that during large climate swings, chemically reactive oxidants shift in a different direction than expected, which means we need to rethink what controls these molecules in our air.


May 9, 2017

Shrubs, grasses planted through federal program crucial for sage grouse survival in Eastern Washington

closeup of bird

A federal program that pays farmers to plant agricultural land with environmentally beneficial vegetation is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington’s Columbia Basin, according to a new study by UW, state and federal researchers.


May 4, 2017

UW seismologist John Vidale elected to National Academy of Sciences

mug shot of John Vidale

John E. Vidale, a UW professor of seismology and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


May 2, 2017

New book by UW’s David R. Montgomery addresses how to rebuild Earth’s soils

cover showing wheat field

“Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” is a good-news environment story about how shifts in farming practices can restore health and fertility to soils.


April 17, 2017

Models, observations not so far apart on planet’s response to greenhouse gas emissions

New analysis debunks reports that recent observations are showing that Earth’s temperature responds less to greenhouse gases than predicted by climate models.


Retreating Yukon glacier caused a river to disappear

chunks of sediment-covered ice

A new study provides a postmortem on the Yukon’s Slims River, whose flow was diverted in early 2016. It is the only documented case of “river piracy” in modern times.


April 10, 2017

USGS, partners launch a unified, West Coast-wide earthquake early warning system

screenshot

Events Monday celebrated the launch of a West Coast-wide earthquake early warning prototype system, and initial test users in Washington and Oregon.


March 28, 2017

Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth’s crust

instrument on mountain

An algorithm for stock prices can be used with GPS data to automatically detect slow-slip earthquakes at a single station, offering a new way to monitor seismic activity.


March 15, 2017

How to conserve polar bears — and maintain subsistence harvest — under climate change

Polar bear testing the ice thickness

A new analysis shows a properly-managed subsistence harvest of polar bears can continue under climate change.


March 13, 2017

Rapid decline of Arctic sea ice a combination of climate change and natural variability

a photo of Arctic sea ice as seen from an ice breaker

Dramatic declines in Arctic sea ice during the past four decades are due to a mixture of global warming and a natural decades-long hot spot over Greenland.


March 1, 2017

Polar Science Weekend attractions range from old-fashioned ice sled to future NASA satellite

Polar Science Weekend poster

University of Washington polar scientists are holding the 12th annual Polar Science Weekend, Friday through Sunday, March 3-5, at Pacific Science Center in Seattle. This year’s lineup includes a simulation from NASA of its new ICESat-2 instrument. Visitors can get scanned by an instrument above their head that measures a person’s height using an infrared…


February 15, 2017

UW affiliate faculty member in anthropology presents her book, ‘Seawomen of Iceland’

SeawomenIceland-Willson-v5b-copy

Maritime communities take various forms around the planet and through the centuries. Margaret Willson, affiliate associate professor of anthropology and Canadian Studies Arctic Program at the University of Washington, is the author of “Seawomen of Iceland: Survival on the Edge,” published in 2016 by University of Washington Press. UW Today asked Willson a few questions…


‘The blob’ of abnormal conditions boosted Western U.S. ozone levels

equipment on chairlift

Ozone levels in June 2015 were significantly higher than normal over a large swath of the Western U.S. Analysis ties this air quality pattern to the abnormal conditions in the northeast Pacific Ocean, nicknamed “the blob.”


February 8, 2017

Hidden lakes drain below West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier

topography of lakes

Drainage of four interconnected lakes below Thwaites Glacier in late 2013 caused only a 10 percent increase in the glacier’s speed. The glacier’s recent speedup is therefore not due to changes in meltwater flow along its underside.


February 3, 2017

New digital collection from UW Libraries: Glaciers and Landforms

ridged ice

Thousands of photos of glaciers, volcanoes, rivers and other natural phenomena are now easily viewed by the public through the University of Washington Libraries. UW Libraries’ Special Collections this fall released a new Glacier and Landforms Photograph Collection. The collection is designed to provide online access to photos of glaciers, geology and related subjects. At…


January 25, 2017

Monsoons to mosquitoes: UW researchers attend national weather conference in Seattle

satellite image of clouds

Researchers from across the UW are presenting their work at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting this week in Seattle.


January 18, 2017

Listen to the Earth smash another global temperature record

upward-sloping line

The year 2016 was officially the hottest in recent history, beating previous records in 2014 and 2015. UW scientists let you hear the data speak for itself.


Vitamin B-12, and a knockoff version, create complex market for marine vitamins

instrument over ocean

Vitamin B-12 exists in two different, incompatible forms in the oceans. An organism thought to supply the essential vitamin B-12 in the marine environment is actually churning out a knockoff version.


January 11, 2017

UW oceanographer dropping robotic floats on voyage to Antarctica

people lifting sensor

Autonomous floating sensors built at the UW are being deployed to track conditions in the waters surrounding Antarctica.


January 10, 2017

Rapid Arctic warming has in the past shifted Southern Ocean winds

closeup of ice core in drill

Ice core records from the two poles show that during the last ice age, sharp spikes in Arctic temperatures triggered shifts in the winds around Antarctica.


December 15, 2016

Underwater volcano’s eruption captured in exquisite detail by seafloor observatory

instrument on black lava

The cracking, bulging and shaking from the eruption of a mile-high volcano where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean…


December 12, 2016

Mountain glaciers are showing some of the strongest responses to climate change

mountain range with glaciers

A University of Washington study addresses controversies over the cause of mountain glacier retreat, and finds that for most glaciers the observed retreat is more than 99 percent likely due to climate change.


November 21, 2016

How to monitor global ocean warming – without harming whales

map with stripes

Tracking the speed of internal tides offers a cheap, simple way to monitor temperature changes throughout the world’s oceans.


November 18, 2016

Q&A: Harry Stern discusses historical maps, the Northwest Passage and the future of Arctic Ocean shipping

Historic map with red markings

See also: “How Capt. James Cook’s intricate 1778 records reveal global warming today in Arctic” Seattle Times, Nov. 16 Harry Stern, a polar scientist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, has been studying the Arctic Ocean for decades, and sailed part of the Northwest Passage in 2009. Stern’s latest work uses the earliest…


November 16, 2016

Large forest die-offs can have effects that ricochet to distant ecosystems

dead conifers on slope

Major forest die-offs due to drought, heat and beetle infestations or deforestation could have consequences far beyond the local landscape. Wiping out an entire forest can have significant effects on global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world.


November 10, 2016

How lightning strikes can improve storm forecasts

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Research shows that real-time lightning observations could significantly improve forecasts of large storm events.


November 2, 2016

New study co-authored by UW geologists looks at what lies below Mount St. Helens

snow-capped mountain in fall

Research that peers below Mount St. Helens finds that the material below the western and eastern half of the mountain is different material and temperatures, and suggests that the source of explosive magma is coming from the east.


October 24, 2016

Nanometer-scale image reveals new details about formation of a marine shell

circular core with spikes radiating out

Oceanographers used tools developed for semiconductor research to view the formation of a marine shell in the most detail yet, to understand how organisms turn seawater into solid mineral.


October 5, 2016

Atlantic Ocean’s slowdown tied to changes in the Southern Hemisphere

blue maps of oceans with colored arrows

Unlike in the movies, and in some theories of climate change, the recent slowdown of Atlantic Ocean circulation is not connected with the melting of the Arctic sea ice. Instead, it seems to be connected to shifts around the southern tip of Africa.


September 30, 2016

CO2 record at Mauna Loa, the music video: The sounds of climate change

smokestacks and smoke

University of Washington scientists have put world’s longest-running measure of atmospheric carbon dioxide to music. The result is a 90-second rendition of human-induced climate change: The video project was done by Judy Twedt, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences, and Dargan Frierson, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences and amateur musician. Their techno…


September 29, 2016

UW gets NOAA grant to begin testing new forecast for toxic shellfish

animation of model

UW oceanographers are working on a system that will act like a ‘weather forecast’ for Pacific Northwest harmful algal blooms.


Ocean conditions contributed to unprecedented 2015 toxic algal bloom

map with animal icons

A study led by researchers at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration connects the unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 to the unusually warm ocean conditions — nicknamed “the blob” — in winter and spring of that year.


September 23, 2016

Week-long exhibit in La Conner joins climate scientists, artists

river valley and water

UW scientists worked with artists for an exhibit at the Museum of Northwest Art focusing on climate change impacts on coastal communities.


September 13, 2016

Westerly winds have blown across central Asia for at least 42 million years

Buddhist flags blowing in wind

The winds that gust across the Tibetan Plateau have done so for far longer than previously believed, showing they are resilient to the formation of mountains and changes in carbon dioxide and temperature.


September 12, 2016

UW scientist helping direct NASA field study of clouds off Namibia

plane on tarmac

UW atmospheric scientists are part of a month-long NASA effort to learn how smoke and clouds interact.


August 29, 2016

Plants’ future water use affects long-term drought estimates

farmers in field

Many popular long-term drought estimates ignore the fact that plants will be less thirsty as carbon dioxide goes up. Plants’ lower water use could roughly halve some current estimates for the extent of future drought, especially in central Africa and temperate Asia.


August 18, 2016

Twins, especially male identical twins, live longer

Twin boys

Analysis of almost 3,000 pairs of Danish twins shows that they live longer than the general population, especially if they are identical.



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