UW Today

polar science


November 18, 2016

Q&A: Harry Stern discusses historical maps, the Northwest Passage and the future of Arctic Ocean shipping

Historic map with red markings

See also: “How Capt. James Cook’s intricate 1778 records reveal global warming today in Arctic” Seattle Times, Nov. 16 Harry Stern, a polar scientist at the University of Washington’s Applied Physics Laboratory, has been studying the Arctic Ocean for decades, and sailed part of the Northwest Passage in 2009. Stern’s latest work uses the earliest…


July 7, 2016

Arctic sea ice volume, now tracking record low, stars in data visualization

four maps of Arctic Ocean

With Arctic sea ice roughly tied with previous record-low years, a University of Washington tool that tallies the total volume of ice in the Arctic Ocean is attracting attention.


July 5, 2016

Long-term Pacific climate cycle linked to expansion of Antarctic sea ice

white continent on blue background

A long-term Pacific climate cycle may be driving the expansion of Antarctic winter sea ice since 2000, but a new study finds that the trend may soon reverse.


June 1, 2016

UW researchers attend sea ice conference — above the Arctic Circle

three people in blue coats

University of Washington polar scientists are on Alaska’s North Slope this week for the 2016 Barrow Sea Ice Camp. Supported by the National Science Foundation, the event brings together U.S.-based sea ice observers, satellite experts and modelers at various career stages to collect data and discuss issues related to measuring and modeling sea ice. The…


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.


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.


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.


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.


April 29, 2015

Antarctic ice core shows northern trigger for ice age climate shifts

closeup of ice

UW glaciologists were part of a team that used a new Antarctic ice core to discover which region triggered sudden global-scale climate shifts during the last ice age.


March 17, 2015

First global review on the status, future of Arctic marine mammals

closeup of polar bear

A University of Washington scientist is lead author on the first census of all Arctic marine mammals, including whales, walruses, seals and polar bears. The multinational report assesses the current status of these populations and makes recommendations for conservation of these species under climate change.


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.


January 20, 2015

Scientists drilling first deep ice core at the South Pole

photo of person in tent bending over ice core

A UW researcher is chief scientist this month on a project to drill the first deep ice core at the South Pole, to understand the climate history in that section of Antarctica.


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.


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.


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.


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 4, 2014

Polar science this weekend at Pacific Science Center

event poster

The 9th annual Polar Science Weekend will bring polar research, art and an actual ice core to the Pacific Science Center.


February 26, 2014

Whales, ships more common through Bering Strait

whale

A three-year survey of whales in the Bering Strait reveals that many species of whales are using the narrow waterway, while shipping and commercial traffic also increase.


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 6, 2014

‘Future of Ice’ initiative marks new era for UW polar research

FutureofIce

The UW’s new “Future of Ice” initiative includes several new research hires, a new minor in Arctic studies and a free winter lecture series.


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.


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 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.


April 14, 2013

Recent Antarctic climate, glacier changes at the ‘upper bound’ of normal

A sectionof the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide core.

In recent decades the thinning of glaciers at the edge of Antarctica has accelerated, but new UW-led research indicates the changes, though dramatic, cannot be confidently attributed to human-caused global warming.


October 2, 2012

UW scientists team with Coast Guard to explore ice-free Arctic Ocean — with slideshow

first year ice

UW scientists are teaming with the U.S. Coast Guard to study the new frontier in the Arctic Ocean opened up with the melting ice.


April 17, 2008

While stability far from assured, Greenland perhaps not headed down too slippery a slope

In a pair of companion papers in Science Express this week, scientists investigate the role of surface meltwater on accelerating the flow of the Greenland Ice Sheet and outlet glaciers and conclude that, while surface melt plays a substantial role in ice sheet dynamics, it may not produce large instabilities.


February 13, 2007

Glaciers not on simple, upward trend of melting

Two of Greenland’s largest glaciers shrank dramatically and dumped twice as much ice into the sea during a period of less than a year between 2004 and 2005.


March 23, 2006

Greenland’s glaciers pick up pace in surge toward the sea

With warming temperatures as the possible underlying cause, scientists wonder what is pushing Greenland’s glaciers out to sea as much as 50 percent quicker than before.


December 2, 2004

World’s fastest glacier doubles speed

The world’s fastest glacier, Greenland’s Jakobshavn Isbrae, doubled its speed between 1997 and 2003.