UW Today

Environment


September 4, 2015

Climate change could leave Pacific Northwest amphibians high and dry

frog peeking out of water

A new model for snow-fed mountain wetlands projects that the extremely dry conditions seen this year could be commonplace by the 2070s, affecting mountain species.


August 26, 2015

Lab experiments question popular measure of ancient ocean temperatures

The study looked at Thaumarchaeota archaea, which are found throughout the world's oceans. These single-celled organisms have just one membrane sac that encloses their bodies. This organism, used in the study, was collected from a tropical-water tank at the Seattle Aquarium.

The membranes of sediment-entombed archaea are an increasingly popular way to determine ocean surface temperatures back to the age of the dinosaurs. But new results show that changing oxygen can affect the reading by as much as 21 degrees C.


August 24, 2015

Power lines restrict sage grouse movement in Washington

male sage grouse

Transmission lines that funnel power from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines across Eastern Washington affect greater sage grouse habitat by isolating fragile populations and limiting movement, a new study finds.


August 12, 2015

CO2 emissions change with size of streams and rivers

A stream in Wyoming.

Researchers have shown that CO2 appears in streams by way of two different sources — either as a direct pipeline for groundwater and carbon-rich soils, or from aquatic organisms releasing the gas through respiration and natural decay.


August 4, 2015

New fish genus and species named for its red, fingerlike fins

Red, orange and pink color variation.

University of Washington scientists recently announced the name of a new genus and species of frogfish, which are small, stocky creatures found in most tropical and subtropical oceans around the world.


July 30, 2015

Four West Coast universities funded for earthquake early warning system

map with concentric circles

The U.S. Geological Survey today announced $5 million in funding that will allow the University of Washington and three other institutions to help transition the prototype ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system, under development since 2005, into a public-facing tool.


July 29, 2015

Healthier Puget Sound depends on healthy people, report finds

man jumping into the water in puget sound

The Puget Sound Partnership on Wednesday adopted new targets that seek to quantify aspects of the natural environment that boost our collective happiness and wellness. These people-focused benchmarks will help inform restoration plans and assess future progress in cleaning up Puget Sound.


July 22, 2015

Distinguished faculty to be inducted into Washington State Academy of Sciences

Detail from the Turing exhibit at a science museum

In recognition of their outstanding records of scientific achievement, 12 University of Washington professors will be inducted this fall into the Washington State Academy of Sciences. The professors will be honored for their “willingness to work on behalf of the academy” to bring top-quality scientific methods to research issues pertaining to Washington state. The induction ceremony will be…


July 17, 2015

Marine plankton brighten clouds over Southern Ocean

an image showing clouds and sun.

New research led by the University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory suggests tiny ocean life in vast stretches of the Southern Ocean plays a significant role in generating brighter clouds overhead.


July 16, 2015

$2.3M energy conservation project in Physics/Astronomy Building complete

UW Associate Vice President of Facilities Services Charles Kennedy speaks in front of the Physics/Astronomy Building.

University of Washington Facilities Services, Puget Sound Energy, McKinstry and the Washington State Department of Commerce celebrated the completion of a $2.3 million energy conservation project Wednesday that will improve teaching and research laboratories within the iconic Physics/Astronomy Building. The capital retrofit project has drastically reduced ventilation system waste by installing high-tech controls, drives and…


July 15, 2015

Students, researchers at sea working on recently erupted deep-sea volcano

Students onboard the R/V Thompson collect velella velella (by-the-wind-sailors) off the starboard side during the first leg of the expedition.

A team of researchers, engineers and students is now at sea to check the equipment in a massive seafloor laboratory, where underwater stations off the Pacific Northwest coast collect data and provide a real-time, virtual eye on the deep sea for people on shore.


July 8, 2015

Seafloor hot springs a significant source of iron in the oceans

seafloor topography with colored water above

A two-month voyage tracking a deep current flowing from one of the most active underwater volcanoes proves that iron released from hydrothermal vents travels thousands of miles, providing a significant source of iron to support life in the broader oceans.


July 6, 2015

Risk of interbreeding due to climate change lower than expected

light brown baby bear

Despite worries about interbreeding due to climate change, a new study finds that only about 6 percent of closely related species in the Americas are likely to come into contact by the end of this century.


June 25, 2015

UW researcher helping pinpoint massive harmful algal bloom

researcher looking into microscope

A UW research analyst who monitors harmful algae in Washington state is aboard a federal research vessel surveying a massive bloom that stretches from California up to Canada.


June 24, 2015

Group at UW shows how to account for nature’s benefits in decisions

Planting mangroves for coastal protection in Placencia, Belize.

The Natural Capital Project, with offices at UW, wants to integrate the socioeconomic, cultural and spiritual values of nature into all major decisions affecting the environment and human well-being.


June 18, 2015

Evidence from ivory DNA identifies two main elephant poaching hotspots

elephants socializing

University of Washington biologist Samuel Wasser uses DNA evidence to trace the origin of illegal ivory and help police an international trade that is decimating African elephant populations. New results show that over the past decade, ivory has largely come from just two areas in Africa.


June 15, 2015

Genetic switch lets marine diatoms do less work at higher CO2

green cylinder on black background

Oceanographers found the genetic ‘needles in a haystack’ to gain the first hints at how diatoms — tiny drifting algae that carry out a large part of Earth’s photosynthesis — detect and respond to increasing carbon dioxide from burning of fossil fuels.


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…



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