UW News

Environment


September 21, 2017

Scott Montgomery makes case for nuclear power in new book ‘Seeing the Light’

"Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century," by the UW's Scott L. Montgomery with Thomas Graham Jr., was published in September by Cambridge University Press. Story is a Q and A with Montgomery.

Scott L. Montgomery of the UW Jackson School of International Studies discusses his new book, “Seeing the Light: The Case for Nuclear power in the 21st Century.”


Hacking a pressure sensor to track gradual motion along marine faults

instrument on seafloor

Deep below the ocean’s surface, shielded from satellite signals, the gradual movement of the seafloor — including along faults that can unleash deadly earthquakes and tsunamis — goes largely undetected. As a result, we know distressingly little about motion along the fault that lies just off the Pacific Northwest coast. University of Washington oceanographers are…


September 20, 2017

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

yellow board on ship deck

A hardy ocean drone made a first-ever attempt to surf across Antarctica’s stormy Drake Passage gathering data about ocean mixing.


September 18, 2017

Catching a diversity of fish species — instead of specializing — means more stable income for fishers

The industrial croaker fishery off the coast of Uruguay is one of the fisheries where management strategies are being implemented in strong cooperation among fishers, managers and scientists. Credit: Sebastián Jiménez /DINARA

Researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of revenue and permitting records for individuals fishing in Alaskan waters and tracked how their fishing choices, in terms of permits purchased and species caught, influenced their year-to-year income volatility.


September 14, 2017

Old fish few and far between under fishing pressure

head of old halibut fish

A new study by University of Washington scientists has found that, for dozens of fish populations around the globe, old fish are greatly depleted — mainly because of fishing pressure. The paper, published online Sept. 14 in Current Biology, is the first to report that old fish are missing in many populations around the world.


September 13, 2017

Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

john day river

  Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges, provided they can find space and a clear trajectory among our urban developments and growing cities. But what are the chances for fish to survive as climate change continues to warm waters around the world? University…


September 7, 2017

Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense

lightning over dark sea

More than a decade of lightning strikes over the Indian Ocean shows for the first time that ship exhaust along major shipping routes alters thunderstorm intensity.


Land-sea experiment will track earthquakes, volcanoes along Alaska Peninsula

map of Alaska Peninsula

The National Science Foundation is funding the largest marine seismic-monitoring effort yet along the Alaska Peninsula, a region with frequent and diverse earthquake and volcanic activity. Involving aircraft and ships, the new Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment will be led by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with partners at the University of Washington and…


Q&A | Sanne Knudsen: Consumers need more protection from chemicals and pesticides

Regulation of chemicals and pesticides effectively leave it to consumers to manage their own risk of exposure, writes Sanne Knudsen, a University of Washington associate professor of law.

  Sanne Knudsen was an undergraduate in Chicago when she got her first close-up look at environmental justice. As an environmental engineering student at Northwestern University, Knudsen answered an attorney’s call for volunteers to study several neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side, communities that had endured more than their share of pollution and exposure to chemicals….


August 31, 2017

Q&A: How Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are confronting climate change

barn with mountains in the back

A new book focuses on climate change risks in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and how managers of public lands can prepare.


Record-low 2016 Antarctic sea ice due to ‘perfect storm’ of tropical, polar conditions

map of Antarctica

This exceptional, sudden nosedive in Antarctic sea ice last year was due to a unique one-two punch from atmospheric conditions both in the tropical Pacific Ocean and around the South Pole.


August 24, 2017

Scientists to create digital encyclopedia of 3-D vertebrate specimens

snake scan

A $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant will daylight thousands of specimens from their museum shelves by CT scanning 20,000 vertebrates and making these data-rich, 3-D images available online to researchers, educators, students and the public. The University of Washington is a partner institution contributing most of the fish and bat scans.


August 21, 2017

Native American youth launch high-altitude balloons for unique perspective on solar eclipse

balloon launch

While many people across the country donned viewing glasses and prepared to watch Monday’s solar eclipse, a group of 100 teenagers from tribes across the Pacific Northwest launched balloons thousands of feet into the air, gaining a novel perspective of the eclipse — and the chance to send meaningful artifacts to the edge of space during a memorable moment in history.


August 16, 2017

Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related

James Dimond snorkeling to collect coral in Belize. He collected 27 coral samples from different environments and with a range of branch thicknesses.

As corals face threats from warming oceans, a new study uses modern genetic-sequencing tools to help reveal the relationships between three similar-looking corals.


August 14, 2017

Probiotics help poplar trees clean up Superfund sites

trees in field

Researchers from the University of Washington and several small companies have conducted the first large-scale experiment on a Superfund site using poplar trees fortified with a probiotic — or natural microbe — to clean up groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE.


August 10, 2017

Researchers, students on annual expedition to maintain internet-connected deep-sea observatory

student working on deck

The annual maintenance cruise for the Pacific Northwest’s deep-sea observatory continues through Aug. 29. Two dozen students will participate, and more than 120 ocean instruments will get their yearly checkup.


August 7, 2017

UW to host Interior Department’s Northwest Climate Science Center

center logo

The University of Washington is the new host for the federally funded Northwest Climate Science Center, a consortium that supports climate-adaptation research in the Northwest.


July 31, 2017

Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century

bar chart

A new UW statistical study shows only 5 percent chance that Earth will warm less than 2 degrees, what many see as a “tipping point” for climate, by the end of this century.


July 27, 2017

UW building underwater robots to study oceans around Antarctica

people looking at float

Oceanographers are building swimming robots to carry out an ambitious mission gathering climate data from one of Earth’s most challenging locations: the icy water that surrounds Antarctica.


July 25, 2017

Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?

ship that sprays clouds

A first test of humans’ ability to modify clouds would help explain the behavior of clouds and aerosols, while also testing a possible future climate emergency measure.


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.


June 27, 2017

Distant earthquakes can cause underwater landslides

flow diagram

New University of Washington research finds large earthquakes can trigger underwater landslides thousands of miles away, weeks or months after the quake occurs.


June 26, 2017

The New York Times recognizes UW student policy recommendations

photo of the four team members

Seeking to protect coastal communities from these devastating impacts, an interdisciplinary team of UW students authored a policy case for lawmakers. Their case won the inaugural APRU-New York Times Asia-Pacific Case Competition, besting submissions from 31 universities across the Americas, Asia and Australasia


June 1, 2017

Scientists launch global agenda to curb social and human rights abuses in the seafood sector

fishing boats in thailand

As the United Nations Oceans Conference convenes in New York, a new paper calls on marine scientists to focus on social issues such as human rights violations in the seafood industry


Video shows invasive lionfish feasting on new Caribbean fish species

the ember goby

Researchers from the University of Washington and Smithsonian Institution have reported the first observed case of lionfish preying upon a fish species that had not yet been named. Their results, published May 25 in PLOS ONE, may indicate an uncertain future for other fish found in the largely unexplored deep-ocean coral reefs.


May 31, 2017

Support for tidal energy is high among Washington residents

Puget Sound in Washington state.

A new University of Washington study finds that people who believe climate change is a problem and see economic, environmental and/or social benefits to using tidal energy are more likely to support such projects. Also, connecting pilot projects to the electricity grid is an important factor in garnering public support.


May 23, 2017

Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

gray wolf

Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded to the detriment of a balanced ecosystem, a new study in Nature Communications finds.


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 18, 2017

Seattle seawall’s novel fish features are a potential model for the world

finished seawall

As tourists and residents visit Seattle’s downtown waterfront, it may not be immediately apparent they are walking on arguably the largest, most ambitious urban seawall project in the world that prioritizes habitat for young fish and the invertebrates they feed on.


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 15, 2017

Code of conduct needed for ocean conservation, study says

fishermen in thailand

A diverse group of the world’s leading experts in marine conservation is calling for a Hippocratic Oath for ocean conservation ― not unlike the pledge physicians take to uphold specific ethical standards when practicing medicine.


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 8, 2017

Pumping up a new record: 10 million gallons of sewage diverted from Washington waters in 2016

Terry Durfee pumps out a bilge on Lake Washington.

In 2016, a record 10 million gallons of raw sewage was diverted from Puget Sound, Lake Washington and other state waterways that previously would have been dumped into vulnerable water.


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.


May 1, 2017

Researchers find more efficient way to make oil from dead trees

A forest with beetle-killed trees from Mt. Fraser, British Columbia.

A University of Washington team has made new headway on a solution to remove beetle-killed trees from the forest and use them to make renewable transportation fuels or high-value chemicals. The researchers have refined this technique to process larger pieces of wood than ever before ― saving time and money in future commercial applications.


April 26, 2017

Invasive green crab found at Dungeness Spit

green crab

A new population of invasive European green crab has been found at Dungeness Spit, near Sequim, Washington, rekindling concern over the potential for damage to local marine life and shorelines.


April 24, 2017

Conservation not an effective tool for reducing infectious disease in people, study finds

Zebras seen in Nairobi National Park in Kenya.

Conservation projects that protect forests and encourage a diversity of plants and animals can provide many benefits to humans. But improved human health is not among those benefits ― at least when health is measured through the lens of infectious disease. That’s the main finding of a paper published April 24 in Philosophical Transactions of…


April 17, 2017

New many-toothed clingfish discovered with help of digital scans

The only two known specimens out of water were found on museum shelves, after being caught 40 years ago.

Scientists at the University of Washington, Texas A&M University and the Western Australian Museum have discovered and named a new genus and species of clingfish after stumbling upon a specimen preserved in a jar dating back to the 1970s. High-resolution scans and 3-D printing helped the researchers make their discovery.


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.



Next page