UW Today

Department of Atmospheric Sciences

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


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


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.

December 17, 2013

Hack the planet? Geoengineering research, ethics, governance explored

ship that sprays clouds

A special interdisciplinary issue of the journal Climatic Change includes the most detailed description yet of the proposed Oxford Principles to govern geoengineering research, and surveys the technical hurdles, ethics and regulatory issues related to deliberately manipulating the planet’s climate.

November 4, 2013

UW Bothell prof, students present crowd-funded study of coal train emissions

The undergraduate student team (l-r): Jeffrey Thayer,  Justin Putz (UW Bothell), Greg Hof and Sofya Malashanka.

Atmospheric scientist Dan Jaffe tonight will present the first results of a crowd-funded study of train emissions, conducted with four undergraduates from the Seattle and Bothell campuses and funded by public donations.

October 20, 2013

Global ocean currents explain why Northern Hemisphere is the soggier one

World precipitation map

A new study in Nature Geoscience explains a major feature of global precipitation, and shows how a current originating from the poles influences tropical rainfall in Africa and southern India.

September 30, 2013

UW researchers helped draft international assessment of climate change

Graphic of IPCC report depicts temperatures at the end of the 21st century.

UW faculty members were among international researchers who compiled the fifth climate-change assessment report. The UW will host a seminar Tuesday, Oct. 1 with some of the Seattle-area authors.

August 1, 2013

Scientists review the ecological effects of sea ice loss


A UW atmospheric scientist is co-author of a review paper, published this week in the journal Science, looking at the ecological consequences of sea ice decline.

July 9, 2013

Hazy days of summer: Southeast U.S. field work measures mercury, smog


Dozens of atmospheric scientists, including three University of Washington faculty members, are taking part in what’s being described as one of the largest atmospheric field campaigns in decades.

June 6, 2013

Pollution in Northern Hemisphere helped cause 1980s African drought


Air pollution in the Northern Hemisphere in the mid-20th century cooled the upper half of the planet and pushed rain bands south, contributing to the prolonged and worsening drought in Africa’s Sahel region. Clean air legislation in the 1980s reversed the trend and the drought lessened.

April 25, 2013

Keeping beverages cool in summer: It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity

Sweat on a can of Miller beer.

Drops forming on the outside of your drink don’t just make the can slippery. Experiments show that in hot, humid weather, condensation heats a drink more than the surrounding air.

March 11, 2013

Remote clouds responsible for climate models’ glitch in tropical rainfall

photo of cloudy sea

One of the most persistent biases in global climate models is due to poor simulation of cloud cover thousands of miles to the south.

February 28, 2013

Changes in cloud distribution explain some weather patterns

A cumulonimbus cloud formation.

Regional cloud changes may be as important for climate change as the overall amount of cloud cover.

February 6, 2013

Smartphones, tablets help UW researchers improve storm forecasts


Atmospheric scientists are using pressure readings from some new smartphones and tablet computers to improve short-term thunderstorm forecasts. A weather station in every pocket would offer an unprecedented wealth of data.

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