UW Today

Environment


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.


September 11, 2014

UW-built sensors to probe Antarctica’s Southern Ocean

person with float

Floating sensors built at the UW will be central to a new $21 million effort to learn how the ocean surrounding Antarctica influences climate.


September 5, 2014

California blue whales rebound from whaling; first of their kin to do so

Overhead view of blue whale swimming in ocean

The number of California blue whales has rebounded to near historical levels and, while the number of blue whales struck by ships is likely above allowable U.S. limits, such strikes do not immediately threaten that recovery.


September 4, 2014

Predicting when toxic algae will reach Washington and Oregon coasts

animation of currents

Better understanding of how a deadly algae grows offshore and gets carried to Pacific Northwest beaches has led to a computer model that can predict when the unseen threat will hit local beaches.


September 2, 2014

Dwindling waterways challenge desert fish in warming world

Verde River Basic Oak Creek

One of Arizona’s largest watersheds – home to many native species of fish already threatened by extinction – is providing a grim snapshot of what could happen to watersheds and fish in arid areas around the world as climate warming occurs.


August 21, 2014

Cause of global warming hiatus found deep in the Atlantic Ocean

graph of global temperatures and ocean heat

Observations show that the heat absent from the Earth’s surface is plunging deep in the north and south Atlantic Ocean, and is part of a slow, naturally recurring cycle.


August 15, 2014

Research from 1960s shakes up understanding of West Coast earthquakes

people placing corer on boat

A new study used seabed samples collected by UW graduate students in the late 1960s to question current interpretations of earthquake frequency along the West Coast.


August 13, 2014

Snow has thinned on Arctic sea ice

person walking on snow

Historic observations and NASA airborne data provide a decades-long record showing that the snowpack on Arctic sea ice is thinning.


August 8, 2014

Ancient shellfish remains rewrite 10,000-year history of El Niño cycles

person with shell

Piles of ancient shells provide the first reliable long-term record for the powerful driver of year-to-year climate changes. Results show that the El Niños 10,000 years ago were as strong and frequent as they are today.


August 7, 2014

Ocean’s most oxygen-deprived zones to shrink under climate change

map

Predictions that the lowest-oxygen environments in the ocean will get worse may not come to pass. UW research shows climate change, by weakening the trade winds, will shrink these extremely low-oxygen waters.


August 6, 2014

Penguins at risk world over, scientists urge new strategies

A Magellanic penguin and two chicks

Scientists writing in the current issue of Conservation Biology call for marine protected areas and partially protected areas to help penguins cope.


August 1, 2014

A unique lab class: UW students explore nation’s largest dam removal

students walking on sand

A spring research apprenticeship course had nine undergraduates living at Friday Harbor Labs and studying what will happen to sediment released by dam removals on the Elwha River.


July 29, 2014

Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

water and ice

The first measurements of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean recorded house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. More sensors are going out this summer to study waves in newly ice-free Arctic waters.


July 22, 2014

Oso disaster had its roots in earlier landslides

An aerial view of the slide site at Oso, Washington, from March 31, 2014.

The UW is part of a new study that shows the disastrous landslide that killed 43 people at Oso, Washington, involved the “remobilization” of a 2006 landslide in the same place.


July 16, 2014

Tracking the breakup of Arctic summer sea ice

person on ice

An international team has placed sensors on and under Arctic sea ice to monitor this season’s retreat. Scientists hope to understand the physics of the ice edge in order to predict summer conditions in the Arctic Ocean.


July 15, 2014

Sustainable, sharing communities explored in Karen Litfin’s book ‘Ecovillages’

The forest provides firewood for the 40,000 Tamil villagers who live around Auroville. "Founded in 1968 upon a severely eroded plateau in south India, the first order of business for the pioneers was to revitalize the land. Three million trees later, Auroville is home to over 2,000 people from 43 different countries and is one of the few places on Earth where biodiversity is actually increasing," Litfin writes.

UW political scientist Karen Litfin spent a year traveling to 14 ecovillages worldwide in researching her book “Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community.”



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