UW Today


February 2, 2016

UW awarded private, public grants to develop earthquake early warning tool

map with concentric circles

The UW is among West Coast universities awarded new funding to further develop ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system for the region.


February 1, 2016

UW seismologist speaking at White House earthquake preparedness summit

map with concentric circles

UW seismologist John Vidale will participate in a White House summit focusing on national earthquake preparedness.


January 29, 2016

Moon’s tidal forces affect amount of rainfall on Earth

oscillating graph

Satellite data show that the moon’s gravity puts a slight damper on rainfall on Earth.


January 26, 2016

Mathematical model explains huge recurring rainstorms in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans

person with weather balloon

A new model explains the fundamental features of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which some scientists predict will be the “next El Nino.”


January 20, 2016

UW-designed climate change games honored this week in Washington, D.C.

people playing a board game

Two University of Washington teams claimed top prizes in a national competition to design a game about climate adaptation.


January 11, 2016

Northwest winter weather: El Niño, coastal effects, no more ‘blob’

Map showing precipitation forecasts

What some have called the “Godzilla El Niño” is now lumbering ashore, right on schedule. El Niño tends to influence North American weather after the first of January, and indeed, we’re seeing warm temperatures in Alaska and much-needed rain in California. University of Washington researchers are tracking what the season will deliver to the Pacific…


January 6, 2016

UW climate scientists to give free talks at Mt. Baker Ski Area

poster with mountains and speakers' photos

UW scientists will give free talks on climate change for three consecutive Saturdays at Mt. Baker Ski Area.


December 22, 2015

Dating historic activity at Oso site shows recurring major landslides

person standing in mud

The large, fast-moving mudslide that buried much of Oso, Washington in March 2014 was the deadliest landslide in U.S. history. Since then it’s been revealed that this area has experienced major slides before, but it’s not known how long ago they occurred. University of Washington geologists analyzed woody debris buried in earlier slides and used…


December 18, 2015

Oxygen provided breath of life that allowed animals to evolve

Earth, covered in ice.

It took 100 million years for oxygen levels in the oceans and atmosphere to increase to the level that allowed the explosion of animal life on Earth about 600 million years ago, according to a study co-authored by two University of Washington scientists and led by the University College London.


December 16, 2015

UW Tacoma geoscientist tracked risks from deadly 2015 Nepal earthquake

The Annapurna Massif thrones above the city of Pokhara, and has shed several cubic kilometers of earthquake debris to form the city’s foundations.

When an earthquake struck Nepal in late April 2015, thousands of lives were lost in the initial disaster. But it was hard to assess the scale of the damage to rural areas, and still lurking were threats from unstable slopes and dammed glacier-fed lakes that could dislodge at any time to flood villages below. A…


December 9, 2015

Iceland volcano’s eruption shows how sulfur particles influence clouds

lava and big emission plume

The long, slow 2014 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano offers a testbed to show how sulfur emissions, from volcanoes or humans, act to brighten clouds and reflect more sunlight.


December 3, 2015

Citizen-science climate project adds logs from historic Arctic whaling ships

handwritten pages with whale sketches

A citizen science project that asks volunteers to transcribe historic ships’ logbooks to uncover data about past Arctic climate has added logbooks from hundreds of whaling ships. The hunters’ handwritten logs will provide new clues about the history of Arctic climate and sea ice.


November 17, 2015

New report outlines Puget Sound region’s future under climate change

ferry with mountains

A new report by the University of Washington synthesizes all the relevant research about the future of the Puget Sound region to paint a picture of what to expect in the coming decades, and how to prepare.


November 12, 2015

Oceans — and ocean activism — deserve broader role in climate change discussions

Joshua Cinner, at Australia's James Cook University, interviews fishermen in Papua New Guinea about adapting to changing social and environmental conditions.

When President Barack Obama visited the shrinking Exit Glacier in September, he pointed to a very obvious sign of our warming planet literally at his feet. Less visible, but perhaps more indelible, signs of changing climate lie in the oceans. A University of Washington researcher argues in the journal Science that people — including world…


From garden to gut: New book from UW’s David Montgomery explores an unfolding scientific revolution

The Hidden Half cover

A new book by University of Washington geologist David Montgomery weaves history, science and personal challenges into an exploration of humanity’s tangled relationship with microbes, perhaps the least loved and most misunderstood creatures on Earth — and in you. “The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health” comes out Nov. 16…


November 11, 2015

UW, NASA measure rain and snowfall to gauge new precipitation satellite

clouds on water

With high-tech weather radars, weather balloons, ground instruments and NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory, scientists will be watching rain and snow storms on Washington’s famously wet Olympic Peninsula.


October 26, 2015

UW affiliate prof writes biography about discoverer of continental drift

Mott Greene, an emeritus professor at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma and an affiliate professor in the UW’s Department of Earth & Space Sciences, has published a biography of Alfred Wegener, the man who laid the foundations for plate tectonics. “Alfred Wegener: Science, Exploration, and the Theory of Continental Drift” was published this…


October 20, 2015

UW study: Will Puget Sound’s population spike under climate change?

Seattle panorama at night

A UW graduate student’s research paper is the first serious study of whether climate change is likely to cause human migration to the Puget Sound region.


October 15, 2015

Oceanography consortium donates XPrize winnings to UW sensor lab

A team of industrial, academic and nonprofit institutions that was among the top finishers of the recent ocean acidification XPrize is donating its winnings to a University of Washington lab that helps track ocean conditions worldwide. Scientists from the UW’s Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean checked the accuracy of chemical…


October 14, 2015

UW polar scientist part of new book, museum exhibit on Northwest Passage

A University of Washington expert on sea ice is part of a new book and museum exhibit focused on an idea that has captured many imaginations: a Northwest Passage that would allow ship traffic between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The book, “Arctic Ambitions: Captain Cook and the Northwest Passage” was published in March by…


Bubble plumes off Washington, Oregon suggest warmer ocean may be releasing frozen methane

Sonar image of bubbles rising from the seafloor off the Washington coast.

The location of bubble plumes off the Pacific Northwest coast supports the idea that gradual ocean warming at about a third of a mile depth may be releasing frozen methane in the seafloor, causing it to bubble up as a gas.


October 9, 2015

College of Environment lectures focus on natural hazards

A lecture series presented by the UW College of the Environment will focus on “Surviving Disaster: Natural Hazards & Resilient Communities.” The five evening lectures will explore the latest developments in social and natural sciences that are helping people prepare for and respond to environmental disasters. Q&A with David Montgomery, who presents the first lecture…


October 5, 2015

UW workshop basis of national climate-science training for tribes

A workshop on climate science, developed at the University of Washington and delivered for five years to scientists in this region, will become the framework for a new national workshop for early-career tribal members from across the country. The program, announced in September by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Idaho, will be…


October 1, 2015

Simulating path of ‘magma mush’ inside an active volcano

colored image of mixing

The first simulation of the individual crystals in volcanic mush, a mix of liquid magma and solid crystals, shows the mixing to help understand pressure buildup deep inside a volcano.


September 30, 2015

UW scientists talk earthquakes, landslides in NSF series on natural hazards

Two University of Washington scientists are featured in a new series — created by the National Science Foundation, NBC Learn and The Weather Channel — that focuses on natural hazards. Each of the short videos features an NSF-supported scientist who studies one of ten types of natural disasters. Two of them are from the UW’s…


September 21, 2015

Summer 2015 tally of Arctic Ocean ice volume confirms long-term decline

A University of Washington tool that monitors the amount of ice in Arctic waters calculated that we remain on track for a gradual disappearance of the Arctic ice cap in summer. “Last year, when the ice had bounced back by some percentage both in extent and in volume, there was a bit of talk about…


September 14, 2015

Take a virtual voyage to the Arctic Ocean

If you’ve ever wanted to travel north of the Arctic Circle in early fall, when the expanse of water dotted with ice floes reaches its greatest extent, this is your chance. Follow the ArcticMix website or on Twitter at @_following_seas through Sept. 26 A University of Washington oceanographer is one of three principal investigators on…


August 26, 2015

Lab experiments question popular measure of ancient ocean temperatures

The study looked at Thaumarchaeota archaea, which are found throughout the world's oceans. These single-celled organisms have just one membrane sac that encloses their bodies. This organism, used in the study, was collected from a tropical-water tank at the Seattle Aquarium.

The membranes of sediment-entombed archaea are an increasingly popular way to determine ocean surface temperatures back to the age of the dinosaurs. But new results show that changing oxygen can affect the reading by as much as 21 degrees C.


August 13, 2015

Lessons from Australia: Understanding public support for carbon pricing

A new study finds that acceptance of a policy is an important process through which people’s beliefs and economic ideologies influence their support for putting a price on carbon emissions, but general acceptance doesn’t always lead to support. A University of Washington researcher led a study looking at views towards a carbon pricing policy before…


August 7, 2015

UW scientists explore recently erupted deep-sea volcano (with video)

When University of Washington oceanographers visited the deep-ocean Axial Volcano in late July, parts of the seafloor were still warm. The team knew to expect changes in the mile-deep volcano 300 miles off the Oregon coast. This spring, seafloor seismometers connected to shore by a new Internet cable showed that Axial Volcano, a 3,600-foot-tall underwater…


Washington state climatologist provides weekly drought updates

This year’s pathetic snow season wasn’t just a problem for skiers. Now that it’s summer, salmon are struggling because there’s not enough snowmelt to feed streams, and water managers are worried by lack of snowpack or summer rains to feed water supplies until the fall. When Gov. Jay Inslee first declared a drought in April,…


July 30, 2015

Four West Coast universities funded for earthquake early warning system

map with concentric circles

The U.S. Geological Survey today announced $5 million in funding that will allow the University of Washington and three other institutions to help transition the prototype ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system, under development since 2005, into a public-facing tool.


July 29, 2015

Two UW researchers elected AGU fellows

Two University of Washington scientists have been elected as new fellows of the American Geophysical Union. The Earth sciences group recognizes only one in 1,000 members each year for major scientific work and sustained impact. The UW honorees are among 60 new 2015 fellows from U.S. and international institutions. They will both be honored in…


NOAA funds UW, partners to investigate West Coast harmful algal bloom

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced last week it is committing $88,000 in event-response funding for our state to monitor and analyze an unusually large and long-lived bloom of toxic algae that has been affecting shellfish in the region. UW-based Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, or NANOOS, was awarded $75,000 of the…


July 17, 2015

Marine plankton brighten clouds over Southern Ocean

an image showing clouds and sun.

New research led by the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory suggests tiny ocean life in vast stretches of the Southern Ocean plays a significant role in generating brighter clouds overhead.


July 15, 2015

Students, researchers at sea working on recently erupted deep-sea volcano

Students onboard the R/V Thompson collect velella velella (by-the-wind-sailors) off the starboard side during the first leg of the expedition.

A team of researchers, engineers and students is now at sea to check the equipment in a massive seafloor laboratory, where underwater stations off the Pacific Northwest coast collect data and provide a real-time, virtual eye on the deep sea for people on shore.


July 10, 2015

Ice core records show how huge volcanic eruptions cooled the planet

When big volcanoes like Mount St. Helens or Mount Pinatubo really blow their tops, the skies darken and temperatures drop. But since such massive eruptions – luckily for us – are fairly uncommon, scientists have few examples to help them piece together the details of how much it cools, and how far and long the…


July 8, 2015

Seafloor hot springs a significant source of iron in the oceans

seafloor topography with colored water above

A two-month voyage tracking a deep current flowing from one of the most active underwater volcanoes proves that iron released from hydrothermal vents travels thousands of miles, providing a significant source of iron to support life in the broader oceans.


July 6, 2015

Risk of interbreeding due to climate change lower than expected

light brown baby bear

Despite worries about interbreeding due to climate change, a new study finds that only about 6 percent of closely related species in the Americas are likely to come into contact by the end of this century.


July 1, 2015

International meeting on the inner life of ocean diatoms

A meeting on campus the week of July 7, “Molecular Life of Diatoms 2015” will bring together leading experts on diatoms—the same type of drifting algae now causing a huge harmful algal bloom off the West Coast—to discuss the perils and promise of these microscopic algae that live throughout the world’s oceans. A dazzling variety…



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