UW Today


October 12, 2016

In new book, UW’s Estella Leopold revisits childhood at the family shack, described in Aldo Leopold’s best-seller ‘A Sand County Almanac’

Cover for "Stories from the Leopold Shack: Sand County Revisited" by Estella Leopold.

Estella Leopold, a University of Washington professor emeritus of biology, has written a new memoir of her formative years, “Stories from the Leopold Shack: Sand County Revisited.” She describes life on the land where her father, Aldo Leopold, practiced the revolutionary conservation philosophy described in his famous book of essays “A Sand County Almanac.”

October 11, 2016

Morel mushrooms pop up, cluster together after wildfires

morel mushroom

A new study finds that morel mushrooms cluster in groups across burned areas in the forest after a wildfire. It’s one of the only scientific studies to actually quantify morels’ abundance after a fire.

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 27, 2016

NSF award to launch citizen science initiative across Pacific Rim

Marco Hatch works with native students to instrument mudflats of Puget Sound for environmental data collection.

A team of researchers led by the University of Washington believes creating a network of community-based science is possible with new support from the National Science Foundation.

Missing fish catch data? Not necessarily a problem, new study says


A new study by University of Washington scientists finds that in many cases, misreporting caught fish doesn’t always translate to overfishing. The study was published online this month in the journal Fish and Fisheries.

September 23, 2016

How natural selection acted on one penguin species over the past quarter century

Adult Magellanic penguin and two chicks begging.

University of Washington biologist Dee Boersma and her colleagues combed through 28 years’ worth of data on Magellanic penguins to search for signs that natural selection — one of the main drivers of evolution — may be acting on certain penguin traits. As they report in a paper published Sept. 21 in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, selection is indeed at work on the penguins at the Punta Tombo breeding site in Argentina.

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 19, 2016

Microbes help plants survive in severe drought

Poplars given microbes survived better in drought conditions

Plants can better tolerate drought and other stressors with the help of natural microbes, University of Washington research has found. Specifically, plants that are given a dose of microbes stay green longer and are able to withstand drought conditions by growing more leaves and roots and using less water.

September 15, 2016

Floating DNA reveals urban shorelines support more animal life

A view of downtown Seattle.

Researchers are now able to capture the cells of animals, sequence their DNA and identify which species were present at a point in time. A new University of Washington study is the first to use these genetic markers to understand the impact urbanization has on the environment — specifically, whether animal diversity flourishes or suffers.

September 14, 2016

All polar bears across the Arctic face shorter sea ice season

polar bear on ice

A new University of Washington study finds a trend toward earlier Arctic sea ice melt in the spring and later ice growth in the fall across all 19 polar bear populations, which can negatively impact the feeding and breeding capabilities of the bears.

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.

UW forestry student wins Bullitt Foundation’s top prize for wildlife conservation

Bogezi captures a crocodile during one of her research projects in Uganda.

A Q&A with Carol Bogezi, a UW doctoral student in environmental and forest sciences who received the 10th annual Bullitt Environmental Prize. The award recognizes people with exceptional potential to become powerful leaders in the environmental movement.

September 8, 2016

How do shark teeth bite? Reciprocating saw, glue provide answers

A tiger shark.

A recent University of Washington study sought to understand why shark teeth are shaped differently and what biological advantages various shapes have by testing their performance under realistic conditions.

September 2, 2016

Invasive green crab found on San Juan Island by citizen science volunteers

a green crab

Earlier this week in Westcott Bay, San Juan Island, a team of volunteer monitors caught an invasive green crab, marking the first confirmation of this global invader in Washington’s inland waters.

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 26, 2016

Interactive map shows where animals will move under climate change

animated map of U.S.

The University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy have created an animated map showing where mammals, birds and amphibians are projected to move in the Western Hemisphere in response to climate change.

August 19, 2016

UW will host 2017 summer institute on teaching urban environmental issues

Photo by Katherine Turner.

Faculty members from the UW College of Built Environments, Jackson School of International Studies and departments of French and Italian studies and history will team up in 2017 to give a new, three-week course for university and college instructors on urban environmental humanities.

August 18, 2016

From White House to Tacoma, WA, urban agriculture is growing

Sally Brown

UW professor Sally Brown and collaborators have published the most extensive compilation to date explaining how to grow urban agriculture, and how doing so could save American cities.

August 16, 2016

Big fish — and their pee — are key parts of coral reef ecosystems

The Almaco jack is a large predator fish, pictured here in the Caribbean.

Large, carnivorous fish excrete almost half of the key nutrients, phosphorus and nitrogen, that are essential for the survival of coral reefs.

August 15, 2016

Luna moth’s long tail could confuse bat sonar through its twist

moth on finger

A detailed look at how sound waves bounce off a flying moth’s body offers new clues for how its long, twisted tail might help it evade predatory bats.

August 12, 2016

Q&A: Phil Levin joins UW, The Nature Conservancy in new role

Phil Levin

Phil Levin, a former senior scientist at NOAA Fisheries, recently began a joint role at the University of Washington and The Nature Conservancy. UW Today sat down with Levin to find out why he took this job and what he hopes to accomplish.

August 9, 2016

Three UW Earth scientists elected as AGU fellows


Charles Eriksen, Deborah Kelley and Stephen Warren are among 60 newly elected fellows from U.S. and international institutions.

August 4, 2016

UW geologist: Ancient Chinese flood is latest to match oral, geologic histories

Photo of Insights art

A Science commentary written by UW professor of Earth and space sciences David Montgomery discusses how recent geological findings support the historical basis for traditional tales about China’s Great Flood.

August 1, 2016

Twelve UW faculty elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences


A dozen scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences. According to a statement released by the organization, the new members were selected for “their outstanding record of scientific achievement and willingness to work on behalf of the academy in bringing the best available science…

July 27, 2016

Carbon-financed cookstove fails to deliver hoped-for benefits in the field

Photo of women using cookstoves in India

A study of the the first clean cookstove intervention in India financed through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism found expected benefits from newer, more “efficient” stoves — based on their performance in lab tests — did not materialize in the field.

Middle schoolers build underwater robot in science summer camp

Alexander Riley works on the ROV during summer camp.

Middle school students tried their hands at designing and building underwater robots this week during a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration science summer camp in Seattle. The ROV workshop was a joint project by UW-based Washington Sea Grant, NOAA and Atlantis STEAM.

July 25, 2016

Marine carbon sinking rates confirm importance of polar oceans

white dots on blue background

Polar oceans pump organic carbon down to the deep sea about five times as efficiently as subtropical waters, because they can support larger, heavier organisms. The finding helps explain how the oceans may function under climate change.

July 19, 2016

UW professor is digitizing every fish species in the world

fish scan

UW professor Adam Summers is scanning and digitizing all 25,000 species of fish that live on Earth. Each species soon will have a high-resolution, 3-D visual replica online, available to all and downloadable for free.

UW oceanographers grow, sequence genome of ocean microbe important to climate change

Marine microbes were collected from a low-oxygen fjord in Barkley Sound, off the coast of British Columbia.

A University of Washington team has shed new light on a common but poorly understood bacteria known to live in low-oxygen areas in the ocean. By culturing and sequencing the microbe’s entire genome, the oceanographers found that it significantly contributes to the removal of life-supporting nitrogen from the water in new and surprising ways.

July 15, 2016

Joseph Wartman, David Montgomery honored for Oso landslide report

headshots of two researchers

The Geological Society of America has honored two UW professors and other authors of a 186-page report on the causes and consequences of the deadly March 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.

July 14, 2016

Cougars could save lives by lowering vehicle collisions with deer

A cougar stands over its prey.

A research team including University of Washington’s Laura Prugh has found that within 30 years of cougars recolonizing the Eastern U.S., large cats could thin deer populations and reduce vehicle collisions by 22 percent — each year preventing five human fatalities, 680 injuries and avoiding costs of $50 million.

July 13, 2016

Opinion: Closing parts of the ocean to fishing not enough to protect marine ecosystems

Four line graphs showing rising trneds

In a three-page commentary in the journal Nature, fisheries professor Ray Hilborn argues that establishing marine protected areas is not as effective at protecting marine biodiversity as properly managing recreational and commercial fisheries.

July 7, 2016

Arctic sea ice volume, now tracking record low, stars in data visualization

four maps of Arctic Ocean

With Arctic sea ice roughly tied with previous record-low years, a University of Washington tool that tallies the total volume of ice in the Arctic Ocean is attracting attention.

July 5, 2016

Long-term Pacific climate cycle linked to expansion of Antarctic sea ice

white continent on blue background

A long-term Pacific climate cycle may be driving the expansion of Antarctic winter sea ice since 2000, but a new study finds that the trend may soon reverse.

June 28, 2016

UW geologist wins early career award from American Geophysical Union


Alison Duvall, a UW assistant professor of Earth and space sciences, was selected for the Luna B. Leopold Award for early-career scientists.

June 23, 2016

UW is top producer of earth and environment research

image of a wooded path

The University of Washington published the most earth and environmental science research last year, outpacing all other universities worldwide, according to a new report from Nature Index.

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