UW Today

Environment


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.


November 10, 2014

Global warming not just a blanket – in the long run, it’s more like tanning oil

sun and earth

Instead of carbon dioxide, or CO2, creating a blanket that slowly warms the planet, long-term warming happens because a darker surface and more moist air can absorb more of the incoming rays.


November 7, 2014

Undergrads use sonar to uncover Lake Union shipwrecks

ship image on screen

Undergraduates this week were among the first people to try the latest in seafloor mapping technology — and use it to image a shipwreck on Seattle’s urban lake.


November 6, 2014

Zebrafish stripped of stripes

Sideview of fish

Within weeks of publishing surprising new insights about how zebrafish get their stripes, University of Washington researchers now explain how to “erase” them.


November 5, 2014

Incorporate more voices to loosen conservation gridlock, scientists urge

Looking down into treetops and dead snags

More diverse voices could help break a deadlock gripping the conservation community, say 238 co-signatories – including a dozen from the University of Washington.


November 4, 2014

‘Future proofing’: Present protections against challenges to come

Figure 6 - Arctic Building Exterior from SW - DSC_0163

You can’t predict the future, but you can prepare for it — that’s the thinking behind architect (and architecture graduate student and UW staff member) Brian Rich and his principles of “future proofing” existing and historical buildings.


October 30, 2014

Trout trick-or-treat: fish gobble furry animals with four feet

A fish on its side out of wter and a line up of dead shrews

Freshwater fish with bellies full of shrews – one trout a few years back was found to have eaten 19 – aren’t as random as scientists have thought.


October 29, 2014

Fires and floods: North Cascades federal lands prepare for climate change

mountain lake

UW scientists worked with managers of federal parks and forests to come up with a strategy to address warmer temperatures, increased wildfires and more flooding in the North Cascades region.


October 24, 2014

Large X-ray scanner to produce 3-D images for labs across campus

A photo of an example of a scanner.

A state-of-the-art imaging machine is coming to the University of Washington for use by researchers in a variety of disciplines.


U.S. Navy awards $8 million to develop wave, tidal energy technology

students on boat

The UW has an $8 million, four-year contract to develop technologies that can harness waves, tides and currents to power naval facilities worldwide.


October 16, 2014

Athletics initiatives, barriers to sustainability topics for Sustainability Summit

SustainableUW Festival square logo

Theannual one-day Sustainability Summit this year is the centerpiece of a new weeklong SustainableUW Festival.


October 10, 2014

Citizen science key to keeping pace with environmental change

Seven students stand on beach holding bird carcass

Better integration of citizen science into professional science is a growing consideration at the UW and elsewhere.


October 9, 2014

Migrating animals’ pee affects ocean chemistry

school of fish

Tiny animals migrating from the ocean’s surface to the sunless depths helps shape our oceans. During the daylight hours below the surface the animals release ammonia, the equivalent of our urine, that plays a significant role in marine chemistry, particularly in low-oxygen zones.


October 3, 2014

Not stuff of musty museums: Enlist evolutionary biology against modern threats

Full-size models of elephant, leopard, rhino on display

Using evolutionary biology is one way to try to outwit evolution where it is happening too quickly and to perhaps find accommodations when evolution occurs too slowly.


September 23, 2014

Dying brain cells cue new brain cells to grow in songbird

Sparrow perches among tree branches

Using a songbird as a model, scientists have described a brain pathway that replaces cells that have been lost naturally and not because of injury.


September 19, 2014

Join expedition online: UW students help install cabled deep-sea observatory

octopus near instrument

UW students have had a unique experience off the coast of Washington and Oregon helping scientists and engineers complete construction of the world’s largest deep-ocean observatory.



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