UW News

climate change


December 6, 2018

Biggest extinction in Earth’s history caused by global warming leaving ocean animals gasping for breath

orange and red ocean with fossil images

New research from the University of Washington and Stanford University combines models of ocean conditions and animal metabolism with published lab data and paleoceanographic records to show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe. As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for them to survive.


November 29, 2018

Forests, human health, Northwest outlook: UW researchers involved in Fourth National Climate Assessment

cover of Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II showing wildfires

University of Washington researchers contributed to the Fourth National Climate Assessment that considers impacts, risks and adaptation across the United States.


November 14, 2018

First tally of U.S.-Russia polar bears finds a healthy population

polar bears on rocky beach

The first assessment of polar bears that live in the biologically rich Chukchi Sea region that spans the U.S. and Russia, finds that the population is healthy and not yet suffering from declining sea ice.


November 8, 2018

Common allergen, ragweed, will shift northward under climate change

ragweed against blue sky

The first study of common ragweed’s future U.S. distribution finds the top allergen will expand its range northward as the climate warms, reaching new parts of upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, while retreating from current hot spots.


October 11, 2018

UW professor of global health a lead author on new climate report

IPCC 30th anniversary logo.

Kristie Ebi, a UW professor of global health, was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C” that compares the effects of 1.5 versus 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.


October 1, 2018

High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, which could worsen climate change effects, researchers say

A tree canopy in a tropical rainforest.

When levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves. Now two University of Washington scientists have shown that this reaction by plants will actually worsen climate change by making the global “carbon sink” contributed by plants was less productive.


September 17, 2018

Shift in large-scale Atlantic circulation causes lower-oxygen water to invade Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence

red and blue swirls on map

Rapid deoxygenation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is caused by shifts in two of the ocean’s most powerful currents: the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current. A detailed model shows that large-scale climate change is causing oxygen to drop in the deeper parts of this biologically rich waterway.


September 6, 2018

Volcano under ice sheet suggests thickening of West Antarctic ice is short-term

animation of straight blue line over bumpy base

Evidence left by a volcano under the ice sheet suggests that the observed bulging of ice in West Antarctica is a short-term feature that may not affect the glacier’s motion over the long term.


August 30, 2018

Climate change projected to boost insect activity and crop loss, researchers say

Image of ears of wheat

In a paper published Aug. 31 in the journal Science, a team led by scientists at the University of Washington reports that insect activity in today’s temperate, crop-growing regions will rise along with temperatures. Researchers project that this activity, in turn, will boost worldwide losses of rice, corn and wheat by 10-25 percent for each degree Celsius that global mean surface temperatures rise.


August 20, 2018

California plain shows surprising winners and losers from prolonged drought

wildflowers on hill

Meticulously tracking of 423 species before, during and after the worst droughts to hit California in more than a thousand years shows surprising patterns. Key prey species plummeted in the third year of the drought, and carnivores were hardest hit in later years.


July 30, 2018

Sea-level rise report contains best projections yet for Washington’s coasts

Google Map of Washington

A University of Washington report provides the best projections yet for sea-level rise due to climate change at 171 sites along Washington’s coasts.


July 18, 2018

Atlantic Ocean circulation is not collapsing – but as it shifts gears, global warming will reaccelerate

Depiction of Atlantic circulation with red arrows pointing north and blue arrows pointing south.

New research suggests the Atlantic Ocean is transitioning back to its slower phase, which means average global air temperatures will go back to rising more quickly.


June 11, 2018

Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

corn field in sunshine

A study of global maize production in 2100 shows dramatic increases in the variability of corn yields from one year to the next under climate change, making simultaneous low yields across multiple high-producing regions more likely, which could lead to price hikes and global shortages.


May 23, 2018

A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core

yellow tent on snow

The oldest ice core so far provides 800,000 years of our planet’s climate history. A UW field survey in Antarctica has pinpointed a location where an entire million years of undisturbed ice might be preserved intact.


May 8, 2018

UW researchers will survey Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier as part of major international effort

International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration logo

UW glaciologist Knut Christianson is part of a massive collaboration that will collect on-the-ground data about a key Antarctic glacier that shows signs it could be collapsing into the sea.


April 25, 2018

UW faculty selected as authors, editors of international report on climate change

IPCC 30th anniversary logo.

About twice each decade, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, looks at what is known about the science of climate change, the extent to which human activities are changing the Earth’s climate, and what risks these changes pose to human and natural systems. Organized into three working groups, each assessment is…


February 7, 2018

Ice core shows North American ice sheet’s retreat affected Antarctic weather

iceberg from above

A study from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Washington finds that the retreat of the ice sheet covering North America made Antarctic weather more similar from one year to the next.


February 5, 2018

UW atmospheric scientists flying through clouds above Antarctica’s Southern Ocean

clouds

UW atmospheric sciences faculty and graduate students are in Tasmania studying how clouds form over Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.


January 18, 2018

Civil War-era U.S. Navy ships’ logs to be explored for climate data, maritime history

soldiers on shore

A new grant will let a University of Washington-based project add a new fleet to its quest to learn more about past climate from the records of long-gone mariners. The UW is among the winners of the 2017 “Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives” awards, announced Jan. 4 by the Washington, D.C.-based Council on Library…


December 18, 2017

Partnership will use robotic network to explore Antarctic ice shelves

yellow instrument in dark water

A new partnership between the UW and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies will use a network of robots to observe conditions beneath a floating Antarctic ice shelf.


November 7, 2017

With climate change, Mount Rainier floral communities could ‘reassemble’ with new species relationships, interactions

Wildflowers growing on a mountain.

An unseasonably warm, dry summer on Mount Rainier in 2015 caused subalpine wildflowers to change their bloom times and form ‘reassembled’ communities, with unknown consequences for species interactions among wildflowers, pollinators and other animals.


August 31, 2017

Q&A: How Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are confronting climate change

barn with mountains in the back

A new book focuses on climate change risks in the Northern Rocky Mountains, and how managers of public lands can prepare.


August 7, 2017

UW to host Interior Department’s Northwest Climate Science Center

center logo

The University of Washington is the new host for the federally funded Northwest Climate Science Center, a consortium that supports climate-adaptation research in the Northwest.


July 31, 2017

Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century

bar chart

A new UW statistical study shows only 5 percent chance that Earth will warm less than 2 degrees, what many see as a “tipping point” for climate, by the end of this century.


July 27, 2017

UW building underwater robots to study oceans around Antarctica

people looking at float

Oceanographers are building swimming robots to carry out an ambitious mission gathering climate data from one of Earth’s most challenging locations: the icy water that surrounds Antarctica.


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.


Retreating Yukon glacier caused a river to disappear

chunks of sediment-covered ice

A new study provides a postmortem on the Yukon’s Slims River, whose flow was diverted in early 2016. It is the only documented case of “river piracy” in modern times.


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 8, 2017

Hidden lakes drain below West Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier

topography of lakes

Drainage of four interconnected lakes below Thwaites Glacier in late 2013 caused only a 10 percent increase in the glacier’s speed. The glacier’s recent speedup is therefore not due to changes in meltwater flow along its underside.


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 21, 2016

How to monitor global ocean warming – without harming whales

map with stripes

Tracking the speed of internal tides offers a cheap, simple way to monitor temperature changes throughout the world’s oceans.


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.


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 23, 2016

Week-long exhibit in La Conner joins climate scientists, artists

river valley and water

UW scientists worked with artists for an exhibit at the Museum of Northwest Art focusing on climate change impacts on coastal communities.


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.


July 25, 2016

Marine carbon sinking rates confirm importance of polar oceans

white dots on blue background

Polar oceans pump organic carbon down to the deep sea about five times as efficiently as subtropical waters, because they can support larger, heavier organisms. The finding helps explain how the oceans may function under climate change.


July 6, 2016

Acid attack — can mussels hang on for much longer?

Mussels

Scientists from the University of Washington have found evidence that ocean acidification caused by carbon emissions can prevent mussels attaching themselves to rocks and other substrates, making them easy targets for predators and threatening the mussel farming industry.


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 30, 2016

Deep, old water explains why Antarctic Ocean hasn’t warmed

global map red at top, blue at bottom

The waters surrounding Antarctica may be one of the last places on Earth to experience human-driven climate change, because of its unique ocean currents.


May 19, 2016

Will more snow over Antarctica offset rising seas? Don’t count on it

person in red coat pointing at ice

Heavier snowfall over Antarctica was supposed to be one of the few brakes on sea-level rise in a warming world. But that prediction is not reliable, says a new study of Antarctic snowfall over the past 31,000 years.



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