UW Today

climate change


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.


April 20, 2016

UW experts call Paris climate agreement ‘bold,’ ‘encouraging’

Eiffel Tower with 'Paris Climate 2015'

As the U.S., China and other countries sign the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions and limit climate change, UW experts talk about the possibilities and risks in what could be a turning point for global economies.


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 11, 2016

Video contest challenges students to creatively define climate change

contest logo

The UW’s School of Environmental and Forest Sciences is hosting its second-annual contest for undergraduate and high school students in Washington to create videos about what climate change means to them, in three minutes or less.


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.


December 10, 2015

Trees either hunker down or press on in a drying and warming western U.S. climate

Trembling aspen.

Two University of Washington researchers have uncovered details of the radically divergent strategies that two common tree species employ to cope with drought in southwestern Colorado. As they report in a new paper in the journal Global Change Biology, one tree species shuts down production and conserves water, while the other alters its physiology to continue growing and using water.


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 17, 2015

New report outlines Puget Sound region’s future under climate change

ferry with mountains

A new report by the University of Washington synthesizes all the relevant research about the future of the Puget Sound region to paint a picture of what to expect in the coming decades, and how to prepare.


November 12, 2015

Oceans — and ocean activism — deserve broader role in climate change discussions

Joshua Cinner, at Australia's James Cook University, interviews fishermen in Papua New Guinea about adapting to changing social and environmental conditions.

When President Barack Obama visited the shrinking Exit Glacier in September, he pointed to a very obvious sign of our warming planet literally at his feet. Less visible, but perhaps more indelible, signs of changing climate lie in the oceans. A University of Washington researcher argues in the journal Science that people — including world…


October 20, 2015

UW study: Will Puget Sound’s population spike under climate change?

Seattle panorama at night

A UW graduate student’s research paper is the first serious study of whether climate change is likely to cause human migration to the Puget Sound region.


September 14, 2015

A more acidic ocean will bend the mermaid’s wineglass

Mermaid's wineglass algae.

New research from the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories shows that a more acidic ocean can weaken the protective shell of a delicate alga. The findings, published Sept. 9 in the journal Biology Letters, come at a time when global climate change may increase ocean acidification.


July 6, 2015

Risk of interbreeding due to climate change lower than expected

light brown baby bear

Despite worries about interbreeding due to climate change, a new study finds that only about 6 percent of closely related species in the Americas are likely to come into contact by the end of this century.


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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 10, 2014

Students calculate future sea-level rise in Olympia

Aerial view of Olympia

Students in a UW statistics course did a case study on sea-level rise in Olympia. All are co-authors on a new paper that looks at the uncertainties around estimates of rising seas.


May 20, 2014

Shrub growth decreases as winter temps warm up

Campbell Island, New Zealand, hillside covered with the shrub Dracophyllum.

Many have assumed that warmer winters as a result of climate change would increase the growth of trees and shrubs because the growing season would be longer. But shrubs achieve less yearly growth when cold winter temperatures are interrupted by temperatures warm enough to trigger growth.


May 12, 2014

West Antarctic Ice Sheet collapse is under way

ice

The collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet has begun, according to computer models using detailed topographic maps. The fast-moving Thwaites Glacier will likely disappear in a matter of centuries, researchers say, raising sea level by nearly 2 feet.


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.


March 27, 2014

Citizen scientists: UW students help state legislator with climate policy

students at table with papers

Four graduate students were part of a year-long legislative process in Olympia working to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Washington state.


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.


February 3, 2014

Greenland’s fastest glacier sets new speed record

floating iceberg

Observations of Jakobshavn Glacier from 2012 and 2013 show the fast-moving glacier has set new records for the speed of ice flowing toward the ocean.


January 29, 2014

Deaths attributed directly to climate change cast pall over penguins

Six penguin chicks stand under shrub

Climate change is killing penguin chicks from the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins, not just indirectly but directly because of drenching rainstorms and heat.


January 2, 2014

El Niño tied to melting of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier

ice and sky

A new study in Science, co-authored by the British Antarctic Survey and UW authors, shows that melting of the floating Pine Island ice shelf is tied to global atmospheric patterns associated with El Niño.


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.


December 10, 2013

What climate change means for federally protected marine species

salmon

As the Endangered Species Act nears its 40th birthday at the end of December, conservation biologists are coming to terms with a danger not foreseen in the 1970s: global climate change.


November 4, 2013

More wildfires, earlier snowmelt, coastal threats top Northwest climate risks

mountain and snow

A new comprehensive report co-authored by the UW’s Climate Impacts Group looks at what climate change will mean for Washington, Oregon and Idaho.


October 29, 2013

Redwood trees reveal history of West Coast rain, fog, ocean conditions

redwoods in fog

Scientists found a way to use coastal redwood trees as a window into historic climate, using oxygen and carbon atoms in the wood to detect fog and rainfall in previous seasons.


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.


September 17, 2013

Stronger winds explain puzzling growth of sea ice in Antarctica

sea ice

Despite warming temperatures, Antarctic sea ice is on track to hit a record high. A new study suggests stronger polar winds can explain the recent increase in Southern Hemisphere sea ice.


August 30, 2013

New ocean forecast could help predict fish habitat six months in advance

school of sardines

UW researchers and federal scientists have developed the first long-term seasonal forecast of conditions for the Northwest ocean ecosystem.


August 1, 2013

Scientists review the ecological effects of sea ice loss

caribou

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 30, 2013

Santa’s workshop not flooded – but lots of melting in the Arctic

pool of water

Widespread media reports of a lake at the North Pole don’t hold water — but scientists who deployed the monitoring buoys are watching closely as Arctic sea ice approaches its yearly minimum.



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