UW News

Department of Atmospheric Sciences


September 7, 2017

Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense

lightning over dark sea

More than a decade of lightning strikes over the Indian Ocean shows for the first time that ship exhaust along major shipping routes alters thunderstorm intensity.


August 31, 2017

Record-low 2016 Antarctic sea ice due to ‘perfect storm’ of tropical, polar conditions

map of Antarctica

This exceptional, sudden nosedive in Antarctic sea ice last year was due to a unique one-two punch from atmospheric conditions both in the tropical Pacific Ocean and around the South Pole.


July 25, 2017

Could spraying particles into marine clouds help cool the planet?

ship that sprays clouds

A first test of humans’ ability to modify clouds would help explain the behavior of clouds and aerosols, while also testing a possible future climate emergency measure.


May 17, 2017

Earth’s atmosphere more chemically reactive in cold climates

researcher in lab

A study of a Greenland ice core shows that during large climate swings, chemically reactive oxidants shift in a different direction than expected, which means we need to rethink what controls these molecules in our air.


April 17, 2017

Models, observations not so far apart on planet’s response to greenhouse gas emissions

New analysis debunks reports that recent observations are showing that Earth’s temperature responds less to greenhouse gases than predicted by climate models.


March 13, 2017

Rapid decline of Arctic sea ice a combination of climate change and natural variability

a photo of Arctic sea ice as seen from an ice breaker

Dramatic declines in Arctic sea ice during the past four decades are due to a mixture of global warming and a natural decades-long hot spot over Greenland.


February 15, 2017

‘The blob’ of abnormal conditions boosted Western U.S. ozone levels

equipment on chairlift

Ozone levels in June 2015 were significantly higher than normal over a large swath of the Western U.S. Analysis ties this air quality pattern to the abnormal conditions in the northeast Pacific Ocean, nicknamed “the blob.”


January 25, 2017

Monsoons to mosquitoes: UW researchers attend national weather conference in Seattle

satellite image of clouds

Researchers from across the UW are presenting their work at the American Meteorological Society’s annual meeting this week in Seattle.


January 18, 2017

Listen to the Earth smash another global temperature record

upward-sloping line

The year 2016 was officially the hottest in recent history, beating previous records in 2014 and 2015. UW scientists let you hear the data speak for itself.


November 16, 2016

Large forest die-offs can have effects that ricochet to distant ecosystems

dead conifers on slope

Major forest die-offs due to drought, heat and beetle infestations or deforestation could have consequences far beyond the local landscape. Wiping out an entire forest can have significant effects on global climate patterns and alter vegetation on the other side of the world.


November 10, 2016

How lightning strikes can improve storm forecasts

flash-1043778_1920

Research shows that real-time lightning observations could significantly improve forecasts of large storm events.


September 30, 2016

CO2 record at Mauna Loa, the music video: The sounds of climate change

smokestacks and smoke

University of Washington scientists have put world’s longest-running measure of atmospheric carbon dioxide to music. The result is a 90-second rendition of human-induced climate change: The video project was done by Judy Twedt, a UW doctoral student in atmospheric sciences, and Dargan Frierson, a UW associate professor of atmospheric sciences and amateur musician. Their techno…


September 12, 2016

UW scientist helping direct NASA field study of clouds off Namibia

plane on tarmac

UW atmospheric scientists are part of a month-long NASA effort to learn how smoke and clouds interact.


August 29, 2016

Plants’ future water use affects long-term drought estimates

farmers in field

Many popular long-term drought estimates ignore the fact that plants will be less thirsty as carbon dioxide goes up. Plants’ lower water use could roughly halve some current estimates for the extent of future drought, especially in central Africa and temperate Asia.


August 9, 2016

Three UW Earth scientists elected as AGU fellows

AGUFellows2016

Charles Eriksen, Deborah Kelley and Stephen Warren are among 60 newly elected fellows from U.S. and international institutions.


July 5, 2016

Long-term Pacific climate cycle linked to expansion of Antarctic sea ice

white continent on blue background

A long-term Pacific climate cycle may be driving the expansion of Antarctic winter sea ice since 2000, but a new study finds that the trend may soon reverse.


May 3, 2016

Dennis L. Hartmann elected to National Academy of Sciences

Dennis L. Hartmann

Dennis Hartmann, a UW professor of atmospheric sciences, was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.


April 6, 2016

UW-led field project watching clouds from a remote island off Antarctica

penguins in front of research station

From a tiny island halfway between New Zealand and Antarctica, scientists hope to learn more about the physics of clouds above the stormy, inhospitable Southern Ocean.


March 9, 2016

Darkening of Greenland ice sheet due mainly to older, melting snow

ice with dark patches

A study by the UW and others finds that the darkening of the Greenland ice sheet is not due to an increase in wildfires, but is a side effect of a warming climate.


February 23, 2016

For weather forecasting, precise observations matter more than butterflies

thunderstorm with butterflies

Small disturbances, like the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, don’t really matter for weather forecasts. More important is boosting the accuracy of observations at larger scales.


January 29, 2016

Moon’s tidal forces affect amount of rainfall on Earth

oscillating graph

Satellite data show that the moon’s gravity puts a slight damper on rainfall on Earth.


January 26, 2016

Mathematical model explains huge recurring rainstorms in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans

person with weather balloon

A new model explains the fundamental features of the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which some scientists predict will be the “next El Nino.”


January 20, 2016

UW-designed climate change games honored this week in Washington, D.C.

people playing a board game

Two University of Washington teams claimed top prizes in a national competition to design a game about climate adaptation.


January 11, 2016

Northwest winter weather: El Niño, coastal effects, no more ‘blob’

Map showing precipitation forecasts

What some have called the “Godzilla El Niño” is now lumbering ashore, right on schedule. El Niño tends to influence North American weather after the first of January, and indeed, we’re seeing warm temperatures in Alaska and much-needed rain in California. University of Washington researchers are tracking what the season will deliver to the Pacific…


January 6, 2016

UW climate scientists to give free talks at Mt. Baker Ski Area

poster with mountains and speakers' photos

UW scientists will give free talks on climate change for three consecutive Saturdays at Mt. Baker Ski Area.


December 9, 2015

Iceland volcano’s eruption shows how sulfur particles influence clouds

lava and big emission plume

The long, slow 2014 eruption of Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano offers a testbed to show how sulfur emissions, from volcanoes or humans, act to brighten clouds and reflect more sunlight.


November 23, 2015

AAAS names four UW researchers as fellows

campus-TILE

Four University of Washington researchers are among 347 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2015.


November 11, 2015

UW, NASA measure rain and snowfall to gauge new precipitation satellite

clouds on water

With high-tech weather radars, weather balloons, ground instruments and NASA’s DC-8 flying laboratory, scientists will be watching rain and snow storms on Washington’s famously wet Olympic Peninsula.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


August 28, 2014

David Battisti, Qiang Fu elected AGU fellows

AGU logo

UW atmospheric scientists David Battisti and Qiang Fu have been elected fellows of the American Geophysical Union.


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.


May 7, 2014

Greenland melting due equally to global warming, natural variations

A canyon in the Greenland ice sheet filled with melt water in summer 2010.

Up to half of the recent warming in Greenland and surrounding areas may be due to climate variations that originate in the tropical Pacific and are not connected with the overall warming of the planet. Still, at least half the warming remains attributable to global warming caused by rising carbon dioxide emissions.


April 11, 2014

Greenland ice cores show industrial record of acid rain, success of U.S. Clean Air Act

person with ice core

Detailed ice core measurements show smog-related ratios leveling off in 1970, and suggests these deposits are sensitive to the same chemicals that cause acid rain.


February 26, 2014

Pine forest particles appear out of thin air, influence climate

Trees in snow

German, Finnish and U.S. scientists have discovered how gas wafting from coniferous trees creates particles that can reflect sunlight or promote formation of clouds.


February 18, 2014

Embarking on geoengineering, then stopping, would speed up global warming

Sun rays

Carrying out geoengineering for several decades and then stopping would cause warming at a rate more than double that expected due to global warming.



Next page