UW News

Environment


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.


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 29, 2017

Tackling resilience: Finding order in chaos to help buffer against climate change

lotus flowers in the mississippi delta.

A new paper by the University of Washington and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center aims to provide clarity among scientists, resource managers and planners on what ecological resilience means and how it can be achieved.


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 7, 2017

‘Black swan’ events strike animal populations

black swan in nature

A new analysis by the University of Washington and Simon Fraser University is the first to document that black swan events also occur in animal populations and usually manifest as massive, unexpected die-offs.


Round 2 of UW cherry blossom season is underway

Cherry trees in full bloom last spring.

Full bloom for the iconic cherry trees in the UW’s Quad is expected the week of March 26, 2017.


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 22, 2017

Large-scale experiment on the rural Olympic Peninsula to test innovations in forest management

stream

Scientists at the University of Washington and the state Department of Natural Resources intend to test a management approach that mimics natural disturbance patterns and processes across a large portion of the Olympic Peninsula, an area known for having the most rainfall in the lower 48 states, high tree-growth rates and old-growth forests, part of which remain today.


UW’s Kristin Laidre awarded Pew marine fellowship to study effects of climate change, subsistence hunting on polar bears

Kristin Laidre

A new, two-part project led by the UW’s Kristin Laidre aims to explore the interacting effects of climate change and subsistence hunting on polar bears, while also illuminating the cultural value of the species to indigenous peoples and the role they play in conservation.


February 21, 2017

Winners, losers among fish when landscape undergoes change

fish swimming underwater

A new study by the University of Washington and Simon Fraser University finds that some fish lose out while others benefit as urban and agricultural development encroaches on streams and rivers across the United States.


February 15, 2017

‘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 24, 2017

Predator or not? Invasive snails hide even when they don’t know

invasive snail feeding on an oyster

The specific cues that trigger an animal’s natural defense vary depending on the species and its history in the ecosystem, a new University of Washington study finds.


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.


Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior

Three-spine stickleback.

A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska’s most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.


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.



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