UW Today

Environment


June 4, 2015

Warmer, lower-oxygen oceans will shift marine habitats

shark in the water

Warming temperatures and decreasing levels of dissolved oxygen will act together to create metabolic stress for marine animals. Habitats will shift to places in the ocean where the oxygen supply can meet the animals’ increasing future needs.


June 3, 2015

Ocean Modeling Forum to bring human element to herring fishery, others

An albatross catches a herring.

The Ocean Modeling Forum is trying something very rare — bringing together multiple science models and people who care about a particular ocean resource or fishery to decide what’s most important for its vitality and the communities it serves.


May 27, 2015

Invisible helpers of the sea: Marine bacteria boost growth of tiny ocean algae

mosaic made out of different shaped diatoms

Using seawater collected in Seattle, Whidbey Island and other sites, UW oceanographers show that just as with plants on land, a common species of ocean diatom grows faster in the presence of helpful bacteria.


May 20, 2015

Burke Museum paleontologists discover the first dinosaur fossil in Washington state

The first dinosaur fossil from Washington state (left) is a portion of a femur leg bone (full illustration right) from a theropod dinosaur.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture paleontologists have documented the first dinosaur fossil from Washington state. The fossil was collected by a Burke Museum research team along the shores of Sucia Island State Park in the San Juan Islands.


May 19, 2015

UW’s Deborah Kelley publishes atlas of seafloor volcanoes and deep-ocean life

book cover with photo of tall pillars

Oceanographer Deborah Kelley is one of the lead authors of a first-of-its-kind atlas of the deep sea, titled “Discovering the Deep.”


May 15, 2015

Washington Sea Grant’s Ed Melvin wins presidential award for seabird-saving streamer lines

A pollock fishing boat.

A Washington Sea Grant staff scientist is sharing top honors for developing gear that nearly eliminates seabird bycatch in long-line fisheries from the West Coast to South Africa.


Chemical tags in ear bones track Alaska’s Bristol Bay salmon

Chinook-TILE

A chemical signature recorded on the ear bones of Chinook salmon from Alaska’s Bristol Bay region could tell scientists and resource managers where they are born and how they spend their first year of life.


May 14, 2015

UW Regents vote to divest from coal companies

U. of Washington

The University of Washington Board of Regents on Thursday voted to prohibit direct investment of endowment funds in publicly traded companies whose principal business is the mining of coal for use in energy generation. The Board also reaffirmed the importance of the University’s wide-ranging sustainability efforts. The vote is the culmination of a process that…


May 8, 2015

New book celebrates work, legacy of UW landscape architect Richard Haag

Thaisa Way's book on landscape architect Richard Haag was published by University of Washington Press.

Thaisa Way, associate professor of landscape architecture in the UW College of Built Environments, discusses her book, “The Landscape Architecture of Richard Haag: From Modern Space to Urban Ecological Design.”


May 6, 2015

Fishermen, communities need more than healthy fish stocks

A typical day at the fish market in Dakar, Senegal.

The Fishery Performance Indicators are the most comprehensive, global tool that considers social factors in addition to the usual biological measures when gauging a fishery’s health.


May 4, 2015

Puget Sound’s clingfish could inspire better medical devices, whale tags

Northern clingfish.

Researchers at the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories are looking at how the biomechanics of clingfish could be helpful in designing devices and instruments to be used in surgery and even to tag and track whales in the ocean.


April 30, 2015

Seafloor sensors record possible eruption of underwater volcano

sensor on ocean floor

Sensors on the ocean’s floor installed by UW researchers show that late on April 23, a seismic event took place on the 3,000-foot underwater volcano off Oregon’s coast.


Sustainability progress should precede seafood market access, researchers urge

A fish market in the Solomon Islands, near Papua New Guinea.

A team of researchers has evaluated fishery improvement projects, which are designed to bring seafood from wild fisheries to the certified market while promising sustainability in the future. In a policy paper appearing May 1 in Science, they conclude these projects need to be fine tuned to ensure that fisheries are delivering on their promises.


April 29, 2015

Antarctic ice core shows northern trigger for ice age climate shifts

closeup of ice

UW glaciologists were part of a team that used a new Antarctic ice core to discover which region triggered sudden global-scale climate shifts during the last ice age.


April 28, 2015

UW apparatus measures single electron’s radiation to try to weigh a neutrino

colorful block figure

UW researchers and their collaborators used an experiment in the physics building to measure the energy of a single electron emitted by radioactive decay, a key step in their strategy to measure the mass of the elusive neutrino.


April 27, 2015

Tidal tugs on Teflon faults drive slow-slipping earthquakes

diagram showing brown slab below grey slab

Teasing out how slow, silent earthquakes respond to tidal forces lets researchers calculate the friction inside the fault, which could help understand when and how the more hazardous earthquakes occur.


April 9, 2015

‘Warm blob’ in Pacific Ocean linked to weird weather across the U.S.

colored map

A patch of warm water off the West Coast, nicknamed “the blob” by a UW scientist, is part of a larger shift in the Pacific Ocean that may be responsible for widespread weather changes.


April 7, 2015

Common birds bring economic vitality to cities, new study finds

House finch

A new study finds the economic value of enjoying urban birds to be $120 million each year for Seattle residents and $70 million for people living in Berlin. Residents in both cities spend more than the average U.S. adult on bird-supporting activities, which then benefit the local economies as residents invest in bird food and conservation.


April 6, 2015

Fishing amplifies forage fish collapses

Pacific herring

A new study implicates fishing in the collapse of forage fish stocks and recommends risk-based management tools that would track a fishery’s numbers and suspend fishing when necessary.


April 2, 2015

UW, NASA prepare for effort to measure rain, snow on Olympic Peninsula

Clouds on the Olympic Peninsula's Hurricane Ridge.

The University of Washington and NASA are preparing for an effort next winter to measure rain in America’s rainiest place: Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. As part of the current gear-up phase, they are looking for volunteers to help track rain.


March 19, 2015

UW geologist, engineer reflect back one year later on nation’s deadliest landslide

An aerial photo of the Oso, Wash., mudslide.

A UW geologist and geotechnical engineer look back at what the past year has meant, personally and professionally, as they helped recovery efforts from the nation’s deadliest landslide in our own backyard.


March 17, 2015

First global review on the status, future of Arctic marine mammals

closeup of polar bear

A University of Washington scientist is lead author on the first census of all Arctic marine mammals, including whales, walruses, seals and polar bears. The multinational report assesses the current status of these populations and makes recommendations for conservation of these species under climate change.


March 12, 2015

Naturally acidic waters of Puget Sound surround UW’s Friday Harbor Labs

photo of dock in sunshine

For more than 100 years, marine biologists at Friday Harbor Laboratories have studied the ecology of everything from tiny marine plants to giant sea stars. Now, as the oceans are undergoing a historic shift in chemistry, the lab is establishing itself as a place to study what that will mean for marine life. And the…


March 3, 2015

On thin ice: Combined Arctic ice observations show decades of loss

submarine poking through ice and people disembarking

Historic submarine and modern satellite records show that ice thickness in the central Arctic Ocean dropped by 65 percent from 1975 to 2012. September ice thickness, when the ice cover is at a minimum, dropped by 85 percent.


February 26, 2015

Embrace unknowns, opt for flexibility in environmental policies

image of a mountain landscape

Two University of Washington professors argue in a Science perspectives article that ecosystem managers must learn to make decisions based on an uncertain future.


February 20, 2015

Winter air campaign tracking how pollution handles the cold

view of city lights out cockpit window

A UW atmospheric scientist is leading a six-week survey of eastern U.S. skies to see how winter conditions affect air quality.


February 18, 2015

Fearless birds and shrinking salmon: Is urbanization pushing Earth’s evolution to a tipping point?

Alberti_cropped_bird_featurephoto

We’ve long known that humans and our cities affect the ecosystem and even drive some evolutionary change. What’s new is that these evolutionary changes are happening more quickly than previously thought, and have potential impacts not in the distant future — but now.


February 16, 2015

Ancient rocks show life could have flourished on Earth 3.2 billion years ago

photo of red rocks and blue sky

Some of the oldest rocks on the planet push back scientific estimates of when life could have covered the Earth by 1 billion years.


February 11, 2015

Earthquake early warning begins testing in Pacific Northwest

graphic of map with numbers

The first early earthquake warning system for the region has begun testing with a small group of users at businesses and public agencies in Washington, Oregon and British Columbia.


February 5, 2015

New tool monitors effects of tidal, wave energy on marine habitat

From left to right: UW researchers Ben Rush, Nick Michel-Hart, James Joslin and Paul Gibbs prepare to test the monitoring device underwater in a tank on campus.

A robot developed at the University of Washington will deploy instruments to gather information in unprecedented detail about how marine life interacts with underwater equipment used to harvest wave and tidal energy.


January 27, 2015

UW researchers helping region get ready for the next Big One

colored map

On the anniversary of a massive earthquake off our region’s coast, UW researchers are working on everything from tsunami evacuation structures to updated seismic hazard maps.


January 20, 2015

Scientists drilling first deep ice core at the South Pole

photo of person in tent bending over ice core

A UW researcher is chief scientist this month on a project to drill the first deep ice core at the South Pole, to understand the climate history in that section of Antarctica.


January 15, 2015

Tiny plant fossils a window into Earth’s landscape millions of years ago

Patagonia-TILE

An international team led by the University of Washington has discovered a way to determine the tree cover and density of trees, shrubs and bushes in locations over time based on clues in the cells of plant fossils preserved in rocks and soil.


January 8, 2015

Epic survey finds regional patterns of soot and dirt on North American snow

person cutting snow

University of Washington scientists published the first large-scale survey of impurities in North American snow. An almost 10,000-mile road trip showed that disturbed soil often mattered as much as air pollution for the whiteness of the snow.


January 7, 2015

How the ‘Beast Quake’ is helping scientists track real earthquakes

seismograph

Scientists with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network will install instruments this Thursday to provide real-time monitoring of the stadium’s movement during the 2015 NFL playoffs. It’s a valuable test of their newest seismic technology.


December 17, 2014

Improving forecasts for rain-on-snow flooding

road in water

Many of the worst West Coast winter floods involve heavy rains and melting snow, and UW hydrology experts are using the physics of these events to better predict the risks.


December 9, 2014

Warmer Pacific Ocean could release millions of tons of seafloor methane

graphic of bubbles

Water off Washington’s coast is warming a third of a mile down, where seafloor methane shifts from a frozen solid to a gas. Calculations suggest ocean warming is already releasing significant methane offshore of Alaska to California.


November 25, 2014

‘Subirdia’ author urges appreciation of birds that co-exist where we work, live, play

Drawing of back of bird as it looks over buildings

Surprisingly, the diversity of birds in suburban areas can be greater than in forested areas, according to John Marzluff’s new book “Welcome to Subirdia.”


November 21, 2014

UW-made tool displays West Coast ocean acidification data

hands holding oysters

A new tool developed at the UW displays real-time ocean acidification data for the open ocean and protected bays, helping shellfish growers and scientists see changes in water chemistry.


November 17, 2014

‘Probiotics’ for plants boost detox abilities; untreated plants overdose and die

Two women and willow cutting in lab

Scientists using a microbe that occurs naturally in eastern cottonwood trees have boosted the ability of willow and lawn grass to withstand the withering effects of the nasty industrial pollutant phenanthrene.



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