UW News

College of the Environment


November 17, 2017

When to fish: Timing matters for fish that migrate to reproduce

Alaska sockeye salmon.

A new University of Washington study points to yet another human factor that is hampering the ability of fish to reproduce: the timing of our fishing seasons. The study considers how the timing of fishing efforts might disproportionately target certain fish and change the life history patterns of entire populations.


November 15, 2017

Salt pond in Antarctica, among the saltiest waters on Earth, is fed from beneath

pond in bare valley with blue sky

One of the saltiest bodies on Earth, an analog to how water might exist on Mars, shows signs of being one piece of a larger aquifer.


Are petite poplars the future of biofuels? UW studies say yes

small poplars

A University of Washington team is trying to make poplar a viable competitor in the biofuels market by testing the production of younger poplar trees that could be harvested more frequently — after only two or three years — instead of the usual 10- to 20-year cycle.


November 6, 2017

‘Smart’ paper can conduct electricity, detect water

This "smart" paper produced at the University of Washington can conduct electricity and transmit information about its surrounding environment wirelessly to a receiver. The following images show how the paper is made.

A University of Washington team wants to simplify the process for discovering detrimental water leaks by developing “smart” paper that can sense the presence of water.


October 23, 2017

50 simulations of the ‘Really Big One’ show how a 9.0 Cascadia earthquake could play out

colored map of subduction zone

The largest number yet of detailed simulations for how a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake might play out provides a clearer picture of what the region can expect when the fault unleashes a 9.0 earthquake.


October 20, 2017

Mountain glaciers shrinking across the West

aerial view of Mount Rainier with red zones

A satellite technique provides a new way to monitor the status of more than 1,200 mountain glaciers in the lower 48 states.


October 9, 2017

Paul Bodin named interim director of Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

photo of Paul Bodin

Paul Bodin, a UW seismologist and manager of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, has been named interim director of the network that monitors earthquakes and volcanoes in Washington and Oregon.


October 5, 2017

Northwest climate science community gathers Oct. 9-11 in Tacoma

poster for town hall event

The eighth annual Northwest Climate Conference will take place in Tacoma, and begins with a free public discussion featuring UW experts on Monday evening.


October 4, 2017

Study points to win-win for spotted owls and forest management

spotted owls

A new study has found that cover in tall trees is the key habitat requirement for the spotted owl, not total canopy cover. It indicated that spotted owls largely avoid cover created by stands of shorter trees.


September 21, 2017

Hacking a pressure sensor to track gradual motion along marine faults

closeup of instrument tip

University of Washington oceanographers are working with a local company to develop a simple new technique that could track seafloor movement in earthquake-prone coastal areas.


September 18, 2017

Catching a diversity of fish species — instead of specializing — means more stable income for fishers

The industrial croaker fishery off the coast of Uruguay is one of the fisheries where management strategies are being implemented in strong cooperation among fishers, managers and scientists. Credit: Sebastián Jiménez /DINARA

Researchers analyzed nearly 30 years of revenue and permitting records for individuals fishing in Alaskan waters and tracked how their fishing choices, in terms of permits purchased and species caught, influenced their year-to-year income volatility.


September 14, 2017

Old fish few and far between under fishing pressure

head of old halibut fish

A new study by University of Washington scientists has found that, for dozens of fish populations around the globe, old fish are greatly depleted — mainly because of fishing pressure. The paper, published online Sept. 14 in Current Biology, is the first to report that old fish are missing in many populations around the world.


September 13, 2017

Climate change challenges the survival of fish across the world

john day river

  Climate change will force many amphibians, mammals and birds to move to cooler areas outside their normal ranges, provided they can find space and a clear trajectory among our urban developments and growing cities. But what are the chances for fish to survive as climate change continues to warm waters around the world? University…


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.


Land-sea experiment will track earthquakes, volcanoes along Alaska Peninsula

map of Alaska Peninsula

The National Science Foundation is funding the largest marine seismic-monitoring effort yet along the Alaska Peninsula, a region with frequent and diverse earthquake and volcanic activity. Involving aircraft and ships, the new Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment will be led by Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, with partners at the University of Washington and…


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.


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.


August 16, 2017

Modern genetic sequencing tools give clearer picture of how corals are related

James Dimond snorkeling to collect coral in Belize. He collected 27 coral samples from different environments and with a range of branch thicknesses.

As corals face threats from warming oceans, a new study uses modern genetic-sequencing tools to help reveal the relationships between three similar-looking corals.


August 14, 2017

Probiotics help poplar trees clean up Superfund sites

trees in field

Researchers from the University of Washington and several small companies have conducted the first large-scale experiment on a Superfund site using poplar trees fortified with a probiotic — or natural microbe — to clean up groundwater contaminated with trichloroethylene, or TCE.


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.


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.


July 17, 2017

Bottom-trawling techniques leave different traces on the seabed

boat with net

Bottom trawling techniques are not all created equal. The most common, otter trawling, removes about 6 percent of the animal and plant life from the seabed, while other methods remove closer to one third.


June 29, 2017

UW oceanography senior finds plastic microfibers are common on Puget Sound beaches

person sitting on sand

A UW undergraduate in oceanography sampled tiny pieces of plastic on 12 Puget Sound beaches. She found that plastic fragments are widespread, and include some surprising sources.


June 27, 2017

Distant earthquakes can cause underwater landslides

flow diagram

New University of Washington research finds large earthquakes can trigger underwater landslides thousands of miles away, weeks or months after the quake occurs.


June 26, 2017

The New York Times recognizes UW student policy recommendations

photo of the four team members

Seeking to protect coastal communities from these devastating impacts, an interdisciplinary team of UW students authored a policy case for lawmakers. Their case won the inaugural APRU-New York Times Asia-Pacific Case Competition, besting submissions from 31 universities across the Americas, Asia and Australasia


June 1, 2017

Scientists launch global agenda to curb social and human rights abuses in the seafood sector

fishing boats in thailand

As the United Nations Oceans Conference convenes in New York, a new paper calls on marine scientists to focus on social issues such as human rights violations in the seafood industry


Video shows invasive lionfish feasting on new Caribbean fish species

the ember goby

Researchers from the University of Washington and Smithsonian Institution have reported the first observed case of lionfish preying upon a fish species that had not yet been named. Their results, published May 25 in PLOS ONE, may indicate an uncertain future for other fish found in the largely unexplored deep-ocean coral reefs.


May 31, 2017

Support for tidal energy is high among Washington residents

Puget Sound in Washington state.

A new University of Washington study finds that people who believe climate change is a problem and see economic, environmental and/or social benefits to using tidal energy are more likely to support such projects. Also, connecting pilot projects to the electricity grid is an important factor in garnering public support.


May 23, 2017

Wolves need space to roam to control expanding coyote populations

gray wolf

Wolves and other top predators need large ranges to be able to control smaller predators whose populations have expanded to the detriment of a balanced ecosystem, a new study in Nature Communications finds.


May 22, 2017

Weathering of rocks a poor regulator of global temperatures

river flowing through mountain valley

Evidence from the age of the dinosaurs to today shows that chemical weathering of rocks is less sensitive to global temperature, and may depend on the steepness of the surface. The results call into question the role of rocks in setting our planet’s temperature over millions of years.


May 18, 2017

Seattle seawall’s novel fish features are a potential model for the world

finished seawall

As tourists and residents visit Seattle’s downtown waterfront, it may not be immediately apparent they are walking on arguably the largest, most ambitious urban seawall project in the world that prioritizes habitat for young fish and the invertebrates they feed on.


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.


May 15, 2017

Code of conduct needed for ocean conservation, study says

fishermen in thailand

A diverse group of the world’s leading experts in marine conservation is calling for a Hippocratic Oath for ocean conservation ― not unlike the pledge physicians take to uphold specific ethical standards when practicing medicine.


May 9, 2017

Shrubs, grasses planted through federal program crucial for sage grouse survival in Eastern Washington

closeup of bird

A federal program that pays farmers to plant agricultural land with environmentally beneficial vegetation is probably the reason that sage grouse still live in portions of Washington’s Columbia Basin, according to a new study by UW, state and federal researchers.


May 8, 2017

Pumping up a new record: 10 million gallons of sewage diverted from Washington waters in 2016

Terry Durfee pumps out a bilge on Lake Washington.

In 2016, a record 10 million gallons of raw sewage was diverted from Puget Sound, Lake Washington and other state waterways that previously would have been dumped into vulnerable water.


May 4, 2017

UW seismologist John Vidale elected to National Academy of Sciences

mug shot of John Vidale

John E. Vidale, a UW professor of seismology and director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences.


May 2, 2017

New book by UW’s David R. Montgomery addresses how to rebuild Earth’s soils

cover showing wheat field

“Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life,” is a good-news environment story about how shifts in farming practices can restore health and fertility to soils.


May 1, 2017

Researchers find more efficient way to make oil from dead trees

A forest with beetle-killed trees from Mt. Fraser, British Columbia.

A University of Washington team has made new headway on a solution to remove beetle-killed trees from the forest and use them to make renewable transportation fuels or high-value chemicals. The researchers have refined this technique to process larger pieces of wood than ever before ― saving time and money in future commercial applications.



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