UW Today

College of the Environment


March 28, 2017

Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth’s crust

instrument on mountain

Stock traders have long used specialized trackers to decide when to buy or sell a stock, or when the market is beginning to make a sudden swing. A new University of Washington study finds that the same technique can be used to detect gradual movement of tectonic plates, what are called “slow slip” earthquakes. These…


March 27, 2017

15 years of success for UW center in recruiting, supporting female STEM faculty

a sunny day

In the 15 years since the ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change opened its doors, the UW has nearly doubled the number of female faculty across 19 science, technology, engineering and math departments.


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.


March 7, 2017

‘Black swan’ events strike animal populations

black swan in nature

A new analysis by the University of Washington and Simon Fraser University is the first to document that black swan events also occur in animal populations and usually manifest as massive, unexpected die-offs.


February 22, 2017

Large-scale experiment on the rural Olympic Peninsula to test innovations in forest management

stream

Scientists at the University of Washington and the state Department of Natural Resources intend to test a management approach that mimics natural disturbance patterns and processes across a large portion of the Olympic Peninsula, an area known for having the most rainfall in the lower 48 states, high tree-growth rates and old-growth forests, part of which remain today.


February 21, 2017

Winners, losers among fish when landscape undergoes change

fish swimming underwater

A new study by the University of Washington and Simon Fraser University finds that some fish lose out while others benefit as urban and agricultural development encroaches on streams and rivers across the United States.


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.”


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 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.


Climate change prompts Alaska fish to change breeding behavior

Three-spine stickleback.

A new University of Washington study finds that one of Alaska’s most abundant freshwater fish species is altering its breeding patterns in response to climate change, which could impact the ecology of northern lakes that already acutely feel the effects of a changing climate.


Vitamin B-12, and a knockoff version, create complex market for marine vitamins

instrument over ocean

Vitamin B-12 exists in two different, incompatible forms in the oceans. An organism thought to supply the essential vitamin B-12 in the marine environment is actually churning out a knockoff version.


January 17, 2017

Diversification key to resilient fishing communities

Fishing boats in Juneau, Alaska.

Fishing communities can survive ― and even thrive ― as fish abundance and market prices shift if they can catch a variety of species and nimbly move from one fishery to the next, a new University of Washington study finds.


January 12, 2017

Ocean acidification to hit West Coast Dungeness crab fishery, new assessment shows

Dungeness crab.

The acidification of the ocean expected as seawater absorbs increasing amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere will reverberate through the West Coast’s marine food web, but not necessarily in the ways you might expect, new research shows.


January 11, 2017

UW oceanographer dropping robotic floats on voyage to Antarctica

people lifting sensor

Autonomous floating sensors built at the UW are being deployed to track conditions in the waters surrounding Antarctica.


January 10, 2017

Rapid Arctic warming has in the past shifted Southern Ocean winds

closeup of ice core in drill

Ice core records from the two poles show that during the last ice age, sharp spikes in Arctic temperatures triggered shifts in the winds around Antarctica.


January 5, 2017

Arctic sea ice loss impacts beluga whale migration

A beluga whale pod in the Chukchi Sea.

A new study led by the University of Washington finds the annual migration of some beluga whales in Alaska is altered by sea ice changes in the Arctic, while other belugas do not appear to be affected.


January 4, 2017

Eelgrass in Puget Sound is stable overall, but some local beaches suffering

An eelgrass bed near Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Eelgrass, a marine plant crucial to the success of migrating juvenile salmon and spawning Pacific herring, is stable and flourishing in Puget Sound, despite a doubling of the region’s human population and significant shoreline development over the past several decades.


January 3, 2017

Songbirds divorce, flee, fail to reproduce due to suburban sprawl

Dark-eyed junco, an "exploiter" species.

New research finds that for some songbirds, urban sprawl is kicking them out of their territory, forcing divorce and stunting their ability to find new mates and reproduce successfully, even after relocating.


December 19, 2016

Investing in fisheries management improves fish populations

Fishing boats in coastal Peru.

Research published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that successful fisheries management can be best achieved by implementing and enforcing science-based catch or effort limits.


December 16, 2016

What makes influential science? Telling a good story

laptop keyboard

Researchers from the University of Washington have found that scientific papers written in a more narrative style were more influential among peer-reviewed studies in the climate change literature. Their results were published Dec. 15 in the journal PLOS ONE.


December 15, 2016

Underwater volcano’s eruption captured in exquisite detail by seafloor observatory

instrument on black lava

The cracking, bulging and shaking from the eruption of a mile-high volcano where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean…


December 12, 2016

Mountain glaciers are showing some of the strongest responses to climate change

mountain range with glaciers

A University of Washington study addresses controversies over the cause of mountain glacier retreat, and finds that for most glaciers the observed retreat is more than 99 percent likely due to climate change.


December 6, 2016

Put people at the center of conservation, new study advises

fishing boats off the coast of Thailand

People must be part of the equation in conservation projects to increase local support and effectiveness, according to a new study by the University of Washington and other institutions.


November 28, 2016

Our closest worm kin regrow body parts, raising hopes of regeneration in humans

Five days after being cut. A rudimentary head, including the mouth and proboscis, has formed.

A new study of one of our closest invertebrate relatives, the acorn worm, reveals that regenerating body parts might one day be possible.


November 21, 2016

Ocean acidification study offers warnings for marine life, habitats

Sea grass beds, like these off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, might buffer the impacts of ocean acidification

Acidification of the world’s oceans could drive a cascading loss of biodiversity in some marine habitats, according to research published Nov. 21 in Nature Climate Change.


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.


2 UW scientists lead effort to craft ‘blueprint’ for holistic fisheries management

A herring fishing boat.

Two University of Washington professors are leading an effort to help U.S. fisheries consider the larger marine environment, rather than just a single species, when managing a fishery.


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.


November 7, 2016

Mislabeled seafood may be more sustainable, new study finds

Fish labeled red snapper seen on ice in a fish market.

A University of Washington study is the first to broadly examine the ecological and financial impacts of seafood mislabeling. The paper, published online Nov. 2 in Conservation Letters, finds that in most cases, mislabeling actually leads people to eat more sustainably, because the substituted fish is often more plentiful and of a better conservation status than the fish on the label.


October 26, 2016

Completed boardwalk trail in Yesler Swamp offers access to wildlife, natural areas

The view from Yesler Swamp.

The UW’s Yesler Swamp, part of the Union Bay Natural Area along Lake Washington, has a newly completed, fully handicapped-accessible boardwalk trail that loops throughout the wetland, offering opportunities for birdwatching, exercise and a chance to experience nature in the heart of the city.


October 24, 2016

Nanometer-scale image reveals new details about formation of a marine shell

circular core with spikes radiating out

Oceanographers used tools developed for semiconductor research to view the formation of a marine shell in the most detail yet, to understand how organisms turn seawater into solid mineral.


October 11, 2016

Morel mushrooms pop up, cluster together after wildfires

morel mushroom

A new study finds that morel mushrooms cluster in groups across burned areas in the forest after a wildfire. It’s one of the only scientific studies to actually quantify morels’ abundance after a fire.


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 29, 2016

Ocean conditions contributed to unprecedented 2015 toxic algal bloom

map with animal icons

A study led by researchers at the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration connects the unprecedented West Coast toxic algal bloom of 2015 to the unusually warm ocean conditions — nicknamed “the blob” — in winter and spring of that year.


September 27, 2016

NSF award to launch citizen science initiative across Pacific Rim

Marco Hatch works with native students to instrument mudflats of Puget Sound for environmental data collection.

A team of researchers led by the University of Washington believes creating a network of community-based science is possible with new support from the National Science Foundation.


Missing fish catch data? Not necessarily a problem, new study says

kompong-phluk-kompong-953388_1920

A new study by University of Washington scientists finds that in many cases, misreporting caught fish doesn’t always translate to overfishing. The study was published online this month in the journal Fish and Fisheries.


September 19, 2016

Microbes help plants survive in severe drought

Poplars given microbes survived better in drought conditions

Plants can better tolerate drought and other stressors with the help of natural microbes, University of Washington research has found. Specifically, plants that are given a dose of microbes stay green longer and are able to withstand drought conditions by growing more leaves and roots and using less water.


September 15, 2016

Floating DNA reveals urban shorelines support more animal life

A view of downtown Seattle.

Researchers are now able to capture the cells of animals, sequence their DNA and identify which species were present at a point in time. A new University of Washington study is the first to use these genetic markers to understand the impact urbanization has on the environment — specifically, whether animal diversity flourishes or suffers.


September 13, 2016

Westerly winds have blown across central Asia for at least 42 million years

Buddhist flags blowing in wind

The winds that gust across the Tibetan Plateau have done so for far longer than previously believed, showing they are resilient to the formation of mountains and changes in carbon dioxide and temperature.



Next page