UW News

polar science


May 8, 2018

UW researchers will survey Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier as part of major international effort

International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration logo

UW glaciologist Knut Christianson is part of a massive collaboration that will collect on-the-ground data about a key Antarctic glacier that shows signs it could be collapsing into the sea.


April 27, 2018

UW researcher, Fulbright Scholar, spent winter above the Arctic Circle

green bands of lights in dark sky

Oceanographer Cecilia Peralta Ferriz is spending the academic year in Tromsø, Norway, to collaborate with colleagues who study flow out of the Arctic Ocean.


April 3, 2018

Bowhead whales, the ‘jazz musicians’ of the Arctic, sing many different songs

whale near floating ice

Bowhead whales are constantly changing their tune, unlike the only other whale species that sings, the humpback.


February 7, 2018

Ice core shows North American ice sheet’s retreat affected Antarctic weather

iceberg from above

A study from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Washington finds that the retreat of the ice sheet covering North America made Antarctic weather more similar from one year to the next.


February 5, 2018

UW atmospheric scientists flying through clouds above Antarctica’s Southern Ocean

clouds

UW atmospheric sciences faculty and graduate students are in Tasmania studying how clouds form over Antarctica’s Southern Ocean.


December 18, 2017

Partnership will use robotic network to explore Antarctic ice shelves

yellow instrument in dark water

A new partnership between the UW and Paul G. Allen Philanthropies will use a network of robots to observe conditions beneath a floating Antarctic ice shelf.


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.


September 20, 2017

Wave Glider surfs across stormy Drake Passage in Antarctica

yellow board on ship deck

A hardy ocean drone made a first-ever attempt to surf across Antarctica’s stormy Drake Passage gathering data about ocean mixing.


August 31, 2017

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.


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.


March 15, 2017

How to conserve polar bears — and maintain subsistence harvest — under climate change

Polar bear testing the ice thickness

A new analysis shows a properly-managed subsistence harvest of polar bears can continue under climate change.


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 1, 2017

Polar Science Weekend attractions range from old-fashioned ice sled to future NASA satellite

Polar Science Weekend poster

University of Washington polar scientists are holding the 12th annual Polar Science Weekend, Friday through Sunday, March 3-5, at Pacific Science Center in Seattle. This year’s lineup includes a simulation from NASA of its new ICESat-2 instrument. Visitors can get scanned by an instrument above their head that measures a person’s height using an infrared…


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 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.


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.



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