UW Today

Science


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 13, 2015

AAAS symposium looks at how to bring big-data skills to academia

word cloud

A session Feb. 15 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting will explore how big data scientists can find careers at universities and within academic settings.


AAAS talk: Some bilinguals use emoticons more when chatting in non-native language

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A research team has found that one group of bilingual speakers used emoticons more often when typing in their second language in casual, online communication than they did when typing in their native tongue.


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 9, 2015

3-D printing with custom molecules creates low-cost mechanical sensor

glowing UW

A UW chemistry lab teamed up with UW engineers studying 3-D printing to create 3-D printed objects with new capabilities.


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 28, 2015

Some potentially habitable planets began as gaseous, Neptune-like worlds

Strong irradiation from the host star can cause planets known as mini-Neptunes in the habitable zone to shed their gaseous envelopes and become potentially habitable worlds.

Two phenomena known to inhibit the potential habitability of planets — tidal forces and vigorous stellar activity — might instead help chances for life on certain planets orbiting low-mass stars, University of Washington astronomers have found.


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.


December 2, 2014

‘Mirage Earth’ exoplanets may have burned away chances for life

Illustration of a low-mass, M dwarf star, seen from an orbiting rocky planet.

Planets orbiting close to low-mass stars are prime targets in the search for life. But new research led by an astronomy graduate student at the UW indicates some such planets may have long since lost their chance at hosting life because of intense heat during their formative years.


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

Major brain pathway rediscovered after century-old confusion, controversy

Drawing of brain

A scientist looking at MRI scans of human brains noticed a large fiber pathway that seemed to be part of the network that processes visual information. He just couldn’t couldn’t find it in any of the modern textbooks.


‘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 14, 2014

Portable planetarium takes astronomy to school

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The UW Astronomy Department’s Mobile Planetarium visits Sammamish High School in Bellevue, where students give their own planetarium presentations.


November 12, 2014

Moving cameras talk to each other to identify, track pedestrians

Tracking camera example

University of Washington electrical engineers have developed a way to automatically track people across moving and still cameras by using an algorithm that trains the networked cameras to learn one another’s differences.


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.


UW study shows direct brain interface between humans

An example of how the brain to brain interface demonstration would look.

University of Washington researchers have successfully replicated a direct brain-to-brain connection between pairs of people as part of a scientific study following the team’s initial demonstration a year ago.


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

New study shows three abrupt pulses of CO2 during last deglaciation

This image from December 2010 shows a 1-meter-long section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide core with a dark ash layer.

Increases of atmospheric carbon dioxide that helped end the last ice age more than 10,000 years ago happened in three abrupt pulses, not gradually.


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 15, 2014

Science communication should consider cultural perspectives

Two images from Native-American-authored children's books.

New research suggests that considering differences among a variety of cultures can have an impact on how well science and scientific concepts are communicated to the public.


October 14, 2014

Orphanage care linked to thinner brain tissue in regions related to ADHD

brain scan image

Psychological studies of children who began life in Romanian orphanages shows that institutionalization is linked to physical changes in brain structure. The thinning of the cortex leaves a lasting legacy that can explain impulsivity and inattention years later.


October 10, 2014

Engineering lecture series focuses on technologies for the heart

2014 flyer image

The University of Washington’s College of Engineering 2014 fall lecture series will feature faculty researchers in engineering and medicine who are improving cardiac medical care with new technologies.


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.



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