UW Today

College of the Environment


March 17, 2016

Galapagos lakes reveal tropical Pacific climate since Biblical times

three people on water

University of Washington oceanographers track 2,000 years of El Niño history, showing that it can shift in strength for centuries at a time.


March 16, 2016

New technique tracks ‘heartbeat’ of hundreds of wetlands

Wetland in Douglas County, Washington.

UW researchers have developed a new method to track how wetlands in Eastern Washington behave seasonally, which will also help monitor how they change as the climate warms.


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.


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.


March 1, 2016

Ice cores, polar bears and whale sounds at 11th Polar Science Weekend

poster showing helicopter on ice

Investigate a real ice core from Greenland, survey microbes from the coldest parts of the world, explore an Arctic ice camp and meet with polar scientists – many of whom are from the University of Washington. It’s all part of Polar Science Weekend, returning to Seattle’s Pacific Science Center March 4-6. The three-day event features…


February 25, 2016

Herring fishery’s strength is in the sum of its parts, study finds

Pacific herring.

Just like a strong financial portfolio contains shares from different companies, the diverse subpopulations of herring from different bays and beaches around Puget Sound collectively keep the total population more stable, a new study finds.


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.


February 19, 2016

UW part of team that drilled first deep ice core at the South Pole

red tents on snow

UW glaciologists helped drill the first deep ice core at the South Pole, which will provide new clues to Antarctica’s climate history.


February 17, 2016

NASA-funded consortium to support science education in Washington, Oregon and Montana

child and adult with bottle rocket

A new program based at the University of Washington will bring together educational institutions, K-12 teachers and informal education organizations to inspire, teach and recruit the next generation of students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The new Northwest Earth and Space Sciences Pipeline, or NESSP, has begun a $10 million, five-year cooperative agreement with NASA…


February 12, 2016

Rare beluga data show whales dive to maximize meals

Belugas observed among West Greenland sea ice.

As the Arctic continues to change due to rising temperatures, melting sea ice and human interest in developing oil and shipping routes, it’s important to understand belugas’ baseline behavior, argue the authors of a new paper.


February 11, 2016

Bellingham Bay buoy an opportunity to observe marine waters for Northwest Indian College, world

Preparing to launch the new buoy, named Se’lhaem, in Bellingham Bay.

The Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction, through its education partner the University of Washington, is deploying an oceanographic observing buoy in Bellingham Bay this week that will allow Northwest Indian College students both hands-on experience with the technology as well as the ability to study the data from their computers, through the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, NANOOS.


February 2, 2016

UW awarded private, public grants to develop earthquake early warning tool

map with concentric circles

The UW is among West Coast universities awarded new funding to further develop ShakeAlert, an earthquake early warning system for the region.


Risk of lead poisoning from urban gardening is low, new study finds

Kids get creative with kale in Tacoma, Washington.

A University of Washington study looked at potential risks associated with growing vegetables in urban gardens and determined that the benefits of locally produced vegetables in cities outweigh any risks from gardening in contaminated soils.


February 1, 2016

UW seismologist speaking at White House earthquake preparedness summit

map with concentric circles

UW seismologist John Vidale will participate in a White House summit focusing on national earthquake preparedness.


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.


What’s the name of that tree? New interactive plant map for arboretum

sample maps

First-time visitors and regulars to Washington Park Arboretum can now learn the names and origins of plants as well as save favorites while strolling through the grounds.


January 13, 2016

Fewer than 1 in 25 Seattleites can really eat locally

belltown

A new University of Washington study finds that urban crops in Seattle could only feed between 1 and 4 percent of the city’s population, even if all viable backyard and public green spaces were converted to growing produce.


Scientists solve long-standing ecological riddle

photo illustration

Researchers have found clear evidence that communities rich in species are substantially healthier and more productive than those depleted of species, once complicating factors are removed.


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…


West Coast study emphasizes challenges faced by marine organisms exposed to global change

Washington's northwest coast.

Along the West Coast, ocean acidification and hypoxia combine with other factors, such as rising ocean temperatures, to create serious challenges for marine life, a new study finds.


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 22, 2015

Dating historic activity at Oso site shows recurring major landslides

person standing in mud

The large, fast-moving mudslide that buried much of Oso, Washington in March 2014 was the deadliest landslide in U.S. history. Since then it’s been revealed that this area has experienced major slides before, but it’s not known how long ago they occurred. University of Washington geologists analyzed woody debris buried in earlier slides and used…


December 18, 2015

Oxygen provided breath of life that allowed animals to evolve

Earth, covered in ice.

It took 100 million years for oxygen levels in the oceans and atmosphere to increase to the level that allowed the explosion of animal life on Earth about 600 million years ago, according to a study co-authored by two University of Washington scientists and led by the University College London.


December 16, 2015

Composting food waste remains your best option, says UW study

food scraps in compost bin

A new University of Washington study confirms that composting food scraps is better than throwing them away, and also calculates the environmental benefits associated with keeping these organic materials out of landfills.


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.


December 3, 2015

Citizen-science climate project adds logs from historic Arctic whaling ships

handwritten pages with whale sketches

A citizen science project that asks volunteers to transcribe historic ships’ logbooks to uncover data about past Arctic climate has added logbooks from hundreds of whaling ships. The hunters’ handwritten logs will provide new clues about the history of Arctic climate and sea ice.


December 2, 2015

Vessel speed biggest factor in noise affecting killer whales

Digital acoustic recording tags temporarily attached to killer whales measured vessel noise reaching the whales.

The speed of vessels operating near endangered killer whales in Washington is the most influential factor – more so than vessel size – in how much noise from the boats reaches the whales, according to a new study published today in the online journal PLOS ONE.


November 23, 2015

AAAS names four UW researchers as fellows

campus-TILE

Four University of Washington researchers are among 347 new fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2015.


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 16, 2015

Microbes that are key indicators of Puget Sound’s health in decline

A variety of foraminifera (or forams) — single-celled, marine organisms that live on the sea floor. UW Burke Museum researchers have found forams in Washington’s Bremerton and Bellingham Bay waters have declined in health and numbers, even when chemical testing of the waters fall within healthy limits.

Paleontologists with the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture find that tiny organisms called foraminifera have a big story to tell about the health of Puget Sound. Two recent studies about the health of Bellingham Bay and inlets in the Bremerton area found the diversity and number of foraminifera — single-celled marine organisms that live on the sea floor — deteriorated significantly. The decline of these microscopic organisms is consistent with the deterioration of snails and other larger marine animals, even though analysis showed a reduction of chemical pollutants in Bellingham Bay and Bremerton over the same period of time.


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…


From garden to gut: New book from UW’s David Montgomery explores an unfolding scientific revolution

The Hidden Half cover

A new book by University of Washington geologist David Montgomery weaves history, science and personal challenges into an exploration of humanity’s tangled relationship with microbes, perhaps the least loved and most misunderstood creatures on Earth — and in you. “The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial Roots of Life and Health” comes out Nov. 16…


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.


October 28, 2015

Alaskan trout choose early retirement over risky ocean-going career

dolly varden trout

A new study in Ecology shows that Alaskan Dolly Varden trout, once they reach about 12 inches in length, can retire permanently from going to sea. They rely on digestive organs that can massively expand and contract and a unique relationship with sockeye salmon.


October 21, 2015

Gear, not geoducks, impacts ecosystem if farming increases

Geoduck clams after harvesting.

The equipment used to farm geoducks, including PVC pipes and nets, might have a greater impact on the Puget Sound food web than the addition of the clams themselves. That’s one of the findings of the first major scientific study to examine the broad, long-term ecosystem effects of geoduck aquaculture in Puget Sound.


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.


October 7, 2015

Student collaboration leads to first results describing sick sea star immune response

Students in the Ecology of Infectious Marine Diseases course do surveys for eelgrass disease.

A group of young marine-disease researchers from around the country has contributed key information about sea stars’ immune response when infected with a virus that is thought to cause a deadly wasting disease. It’s the first time researchers have tracked how genes behave when encountering this naturally occurring pathogen, which could help explain how sea stars attempt to fight the virus and why they develop lesions and appear to melt.


October 1, 2015

Simulating path of ‘magma mush’ inside an active volcano

colored image of mixing

The first simulation of the individual crystals in volcanic mush, a mix of liquid magma and solid crystals, shows the mixing to help understand pressure buildup deep inside a volcano.



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