UW News

School of Oceanography


December 6, 2018

Biggest extinction in Earth’s history caused by global warming leaving ocean animals gasping for breath

orange and red ocean with fossil images

New research from the University of Washington and Stanford University combines models of ocean conditions and animal metabolism with published lab data and paleoceanographic records to show that the Permian mass extinction in the oceans was caused by global warming that left animals unable to breathe. As temperatures rose and the metabolism of marine animals sped up, the warmer waters could not hold enough oxygen for them to survive.


November 2, 2018

‘Ocean memory’ the focus of cross-disciplinary effort by UW’s Jody Deming

Jody-Deming-528x528

UW oceanographer Jody Deming is a leader of a new, interdisciplinary effort that addresses the theme of “ocean memory.”


September 19, 2018

NSF awards contract to carry OOI into the next decade and beyond

map of Pacific coast

The National Science Foundation will support a state-of-the-art marine facility that continues delivering data and new insight to the ocean science community, policymakers and the public worldwide.


September 10, 2018

UW polar scientists advised NASA on upcoming ICESat-2 satellite

instrument on dark sky above Earth

Two UW polar scientists were among a dozen experts who advised NASA on its upcoming ICESat-2 mission to monitor the 3D surface of the Earth. The mission is scheduled to launch Sept. 15 from California.


August 30, 2018

Climate change projected to boost insect activity and crop loss, researchers say

Image of ears of wheat

In a paper published Aug. 31 in the journal Science, a team led by scientists at the University of Washington reports that insect activity in today’s temperate, crop-growing regions will rise along with temperatures. Researchers project that this activity, in turn, will boost worldwide losses of rice, corn and wheat by 10-25 percent for each degree Celsius that global mean surface temperatures rise.


August 14, 2018

Diving robots find Antarctic winter seas exhale surprising amounts of carbon dioxide

Antarctic sea ice

A new study led by the University of Washington uses data gathered by floating drones in the Southern Ocean over past winters to learn how much carbon dioxide is transferred by the surrounding seas. Results show that in winter the open water nearest the sea ice surrounding Antarctica releases significantly more carbon dioxide than previously believed.


June 21, 2018

NASA, NSF expedition to study ocean carbon embarks in August from Seattle

satellite view of ocean and land

More than 100 scientists and crew from more than 20 U.S. research institutions, including the UW, will depart in August for a month-long expedition to study how the ocean absorbs carbon from the atmosphere.


May 10, 2018

New UW vessel, RV Rachel Carson, will explore regional waters

blue and white ship

The UW School of Oceanography has a new vessel, named after marine biologist, author and conservationist Rachel Carson. It will explore Puget Sound and nearby coasts.


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 1, 2018

UW’s large research vessel, R/V Thomas G. Thompson, gets back to work

ship in shipyard

After an “extreme makeover” that went from stem to stern on five decks of the ship, the R/V Thomas G. Thompson is ready to get back to work exploring the world’s oceans. The University of Washington’s School of Oceanography, part of the College of the Environment, operates the 274-foot ship, which arrived on campus in…


January 18, 2018

Temporary ‘bathtub drains’ in the ocean concentrate flotsam

white plastic drifter on ship deck

An experiment using hundreds of plastic drifters in the Gulf of Mexico shows that rather than simply spread out, as current calculations would predict, many of them clumped together in a tight cluster.


How the Elwha dam removals changed the river’s mouth

Elwha River - Olympic National Park

A new study in the Journal PLOS ONE details what removing the two dams on the Elwha River meant for the nearshore marine ecosystem.


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.


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 7, 2017

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 10, 2017

Researchers, students on annual expedition to maintain internet-connected deep-sea observatory

student working on deck

The annual maintenance cruise for the Pacific Northwest’s deep-sea observatory continues through Aug. 29. Two dozen students will participate, and more than 120 ocean instruments will get their yearly checkup.


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.


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.


April 17, 2017

Models, observations not so far apart on planet’s response to greenhouse gas emissions

New analysis debunks reports that recent observations are showing that Earth’s temperature responds less to greenhouse gases than predicted by climate models.


January 18, 2017

Vitamin B-12, and a knockoff version, create complex market for marine vitamins

instrument over ocean

Vitamin B-12 exists in two different, incompatible forms in the oceans. An organism thought to supply the essential vitamin B-12 in the marine environment is actually churning out a knockoff version.


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.


December 15, 2016

Underwater volcano’s eruption captured in exquisite detail by seafloor observatory

instrument on black lava

The cracking, bulging and shaking from the eruption of a mile-high volcano where two tectonic plates separate has been captured in more detail than ever before. A University of Washington study published this week shows how the volcano behaved during its spring 2015 eruption, revealing new clues about the behavior of volcanoes where two ocean…


October 24, 2016

Nanometer-scale image reveals new details about formation of a marine shell

circular core with spikes radiating out

Oceanographers used tools developed for semiconductor research to view the formation of a marine shell in the most detail yet, to understand how organisms turn seawater into solid mineral.


October 5, 2016

Atlantic Ocean’s slowdown tied to changes in the Southern Hemisphere

blue maps of oceans with colored arrows

Unlike in the movies, and in some theories of climate change, the recent slowdown of Atlantic Ocean circulation is not connected with the melting of the Arctic sea ice. Instead, it seems to be connected to shifts around the southern tip of Africa.


September 29, 2016

UW gets NOAA grant to begin testing new forecast for toxic shellfish

animation of model

UW oceanographers are working on a system that will act like a ‘weather forecast’ for Pacific Northwest harmful algal blooms.


August 9, 2016

Three UW Earth scientists elected as AGU fellows

AGUFellows2016

Charles Eriksen, Deborah Kelley and Stephen Warren are among 60 newly elected fellows from U.S. and international institutions.


July 25, 2016

Marine carbon sinking rates confirm importance of polar oceans

white dots on blue background

Polar oceans pump organic carbon down to the deep sea about five times as efficiently as subtropical waters, because they can support larger, heavier organisms. The finding helps explain how the oceans may function under climate change.


July 19, 2016

UW oceanographers grow, sequence genome of ocean microbe important to climate change

Marine microbes were collected from a low-oxygen fjord in Barkley Sound, off the coast of British Columbia.

A University of Washington team has shed new light on a common but poorly understood bacteria known to live in low-oxygen areas in the ocean. By culturing and sequencing the microbe’s entire genome, the oceanographers found that it significantly contributes to the removal of life-supporting nitrogen from the water in new and surprising ways.


June 16, 2016

UW’s large research vessel, R/V Thomas G. Thompson, gets a midlife overhaul

graphic of boat

The R/V Thomas G. Thompson, the 274-foot-long research vessel operated by the University of Washington, has spent 25 years carrying researchers, students and teachers out to sea. The ship has collected material from the bottom of the deepest ocean trenches and braved storms near Antarctica. This week, the ship will begin a yearlong stay in…


June 6, 2016

See, hear and study the deep sea: Ocean Observatories Initiative data now live

camera illuminating seafloor

Data is now streaming from the deep sea, thanks to an observatory installed in this region by the University of Washington as part of a larger National Science Foundation initiative to usher in a new age of oceanographic research.


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 25, 2016

UW, NOAA deploy ocean robot to monitor harmful algal blooms off Washington coast

The box surround by purple contains an automated laboratory that will analyze seawater for algal species and toxin. Researchers deployed it May 23 about 13 miles off Washington's coast.

Oceanographers from the UW and NOAA deployed a new tool that will automatically test for harmful algal blooms and help warn of when they could hit local beaches.


May 10, 2016

UW part of NOAA-led cruise to study West Coast ocean acidification

colored map shwoing the 16 stops

University of Washington students, faculty and staff are part of the fifth West Coast Ocean Acidification Cruise that will investigate changes to ocean chemistry from Baja to British Columbia. The ship left Thursday from San Diego to begin sampling on Mexico’s northern coast. It will stop May 21 at San Francisco’s Exploratorium Pier, then travel…


March 30, 2016

Tracking ‘marine heatwaves’ since 1950 – and how the ‘blob’ stacks up

Picture graph

A tally of Northern Hemisphere marine heatwaves since 1950 shows that prolonged warm periods have recurred regularly in the past, but are being pushed into new territory by climate change.


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.


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.


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 25, 2015

UW researcher helping pinpoint massive harmful algal bloom

researcher looking into microscope

A UW research analyst who monitors harmful algae in Washington state is aboard a federal research vessel surveying a massive bloom that stretches from California up to Canada.



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