UW Today

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering


July 27, 2016

Carbon-financed cookstove fails to deliver hoped-for benefits in the field

Photo of women using cookstoves in India

A study of the the first clean cookstove intervention in India financed through the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism found expected benefits from newer, more “efficient” stoves — based on their performance in lab tests — did not materialize in the field.


July 15, 2016

Joseph Wartman, David Montgomery honored for Oso landslide report

headshots of two researchers

The Geological Society of America has honored two UW professors and other authors of a 186-page report on the causes and consequences of the deadly March 2014 landslide in Oso, Washington.


May 2, 2016

UW-led team wins $10M EPA grant for air pollution research

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To help address the nation’s pressing need for better air quality, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a research team co-led by a University of Washington civil engineer a $10 million Air, Climate and Energy (ACE) grant.


February 29, 2016

NASA data used to track groundwater in Pakistan

Picture of groundwater fieldwork

Pakistan’s water managers are using NASA satellites to more effectively monitor groundwater supplies, thanks to a partnership with UW civil and environmental engineers. It’s part of a larger effort to use the vast amount of data and observations collected by Earth-orbiting satellites to better quality of life in developing countries.


February 25, 2016

Driverless cars could increase reliance on roads

Photo of driverless car

Driverless vehicles could intensify car use — reducing or even eliminating promised energy savings and environmental benefits, a new study co-authored by a University of Washington researcher finds. If people can work, relax and even hold meetings in their fully automated vehicles, they may drive more.


January 6, 2016

What motivates people to walk and bike? It varies by income

New University of Washington research finds different factors in the built environment motivate higher-income and lower-income people to walk and bike.

The built environment influences decisions to walk or bike differently for lower- and higher-income groups, UW researchers have found. Neighborhood density, accessible destinations and fewer vehicles were associated with more walking and biking in lower-income groups, while neighborhood attractiveness was relevant for higher-income groups.


December 21, 2015

Rivers, lakes impact ability of forests to store carbon

A river in Washington state.

Forests help remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by storing it in trees, but a sizeable amount of the greenhouse gas actually escapes through the soil and into rivers and streams, a new paper finds.


December 15, 2015

Fuel economy improvements in US climate commitment on par with 1970s gains

Photo of 1970s Datsun ad

A new UW study finds that fuel efficiency improvements needed to meet U.S. climate commitments are on par with what the auto industry delivered in the 1970s and 1980s.


August 26, 2015

Lab experiments question popular measure of ancient ocean temperatures

The study looked at Thaumarchaeota archaea, which are found throughout the world's oceans. These single-celled organisms have just one membrane sac that encloses their bodies. This organism, used in the study, was collected from a tropical-water tank at the Seattle Aquarium.

The membranes of sediment-entombed archaea are an increasingly popular way to determine ocean surface temperatures back to the age of the dinosaurs. But new results show that changing oxygen can affect the reading by as much as 21 degrees C.


June 1, 2015

UW students use open source mapping to aid relief efforts in Nepal

Map­ping in Nepal by Open­StreetMap com­mu­nity

University of Washington civil and environmental engineering students have joined a 4,000-volunteer crowdsourcing effort to turn satel­lite imagery of Nepal into maps that aid earthquake relief efforts.


March 19, 2015

UW geologist, engineer reflect back one year later on nation’s deadliest landslide

An aerial photo of the Oso, Wash., mudslide.

A UW geologist and geotechnical engineer look back at what the past year has meant, personally and professionally, as they helped recovery efforts from the nation’s deadliest landslide in our own backyard.


December 17, 2014

Improving forecasts for rain-on-snow flooding

road in water

Many of the worst West Coast winter floods involve heavy rains and melting snow, and UW hydrology experts are using the physics of these events to better predict the risks.


July 29, 2014

Huge waves measured for first time in Arctic Ocean

water and ice

The first measurements of waves in the middle of the Arctic Ocean recorded house-sized waves during a September 2012 storm. More sensors are going out this summer to study waves in newly ice-free Arctic waters.


June 23, 2014

Zippy, electric micro cars coming to campus for sustainability research

Micro electric cars.

The University of Washington is one of four institutions receiving four Innova Dash all-electric micro vehicles this summer. They will be able to communicate data such as position, speed and battery charge directly to the UW’s network, which will provide the information to various research projects.


June 16, 2014

Ferries for science: Instrument will monitor flow in Puget Sound

graphic of boat and hump

The UW, the state Department of Ecology and Washington State Ferries are working together to get a better understanding of water circulation in Puget Sound.


March 31, 2014

UW experts part of technical team investigating Snohomish County mudslide

An aerial photo of the Oso, Wash., mudslide.

A national team jointly led by a University of Washington geotechnical engineer and an engineering geologist will investigate what caused the March 22 mudslide in Snohomish County and what effects the disaster had on the nearby residential communities.


January 15, 2014

Glaciers, streamflow changes are focus of new Columbia River study

aerial view of bonneville dam, 40 miles east of portland.

University of Washington environmental engineers are launching a new study to try to understand how climate change will affect streamflow patterns in the Columbia River Basin. The team will look at the impact of glaciers on the river system, the range of possible streamflow changes and how much water will flow in the river at hundreds of locations in future years.


November 13, 2013

Snow melts faster under trees than in open areas in mild climates

A mounted hunting camera captures snow in a forest gap, while snow appears to have melted under the trees in dense, second-growth forest behind the gap site.

University of Washington researchers have found that tree cover actually causes snow to melt more quickly in warm, Mediterranean-type climates. Alternatively, open, clear gaps in the forests tend to keep snow on the ground longer into the spring and summer. Their findings were published this fall in Water Resources Research.


October 15, 2013

Local infrastructure focus of College of Engineering’s fall lecture series

Part of the lecture series brochure cover.

The University of Washington College of Engineering fall lecture series will feature faculty researchers and industry leaders who work to maintain and improve our region’s critical infrastructure. The lectures are at 7 p.m. on Oct. 23, Oct. 30 and Nov. 14.


June 25, 2013

Clearing up confusion on future of Colorado River flows

Lake Powell and dam

Leading experts on water issues in the Western U.S. have come together to establish what is known about the future of Colorado River water, and to understand the wide range of estimates for future flows.


May 29, 2013

UW to host student steel bridge competition this weekend

UW team competes at regional competition 2013

Just a week after the Interstate 5 Skagit River Bridge collapse north of Seattle, the University of Washington will host a national steel bridge competition for undergraduate civil engineering students. Forty-nine finalist teams will converge on campus for the 2013 National Student Steel Bridge Competition.


April 29, 2013

Grocery delivery service is greener than driving to the store

Webvan.com was a one-time grocery delivery company.

New University of Washington research shows it’s much more environmentally friendly to leave the car parked at home and opt for groceries delivered to your doorstep.