UW News

Environment


May 21, 2020

NOAA selects UW to host new, regional institute for climate, ocean and ecosystem research

atlantic ocean

A 5-year, up to $300 million grant from NOAA establishes the new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies, a UW-based institute with partners at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and Oregon State University. The institute will lead collaborative, multidisciplinary research and education activities around oceans and climate.


May 15, 2020

Ocean ‘breathability’ key to past, future habitat of West Coast marine species

silver fish

Historical observations collected off California since the 1950s suggest that anchovies thrive where the water is breathable — a combination of the oxygen levels in the water and the species’ oxygen needs, which are affected by temperature. Future projections suggest that the waters off Mexico and Southern California could be uninhabitable by 2100.


May 12, 2020

Seismologists to host virtual event on 40th anniversary of Mount St. Helens eruption

snow-covered mountain with smoke

The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at the University of Washington, will host an online event on the 40th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens, featuring seismologists from the UW and other institutions who can explain the events before, during and after the historic blast. The virtual event will take place from 6:30…


May 1, 2020

Pacific oysters in the Salish Sea may not contain as many microplastics as previously thought

oysters on beach

University of Washington researchers have discovered that the abundance of tiny microplastic contaminants in Pacific oysters from the Salish Sea is much lower than previously thought.


April 30, 2020

First results from NASA’s ICESat-2 map 16 years of melting ice sheets

colored map of Antarctica

Loss of ice from Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets since 2003 have contributed 0.55 inches to global sea level rise, with about two thirds coming from Greenland ice. The new, detailed satellite measurements provide a global picture of ice sheet change — and insights into the future of Greenland and Antarctica.


April 28, 2020

Agricultural pickers in US to see unsafely hot workdays double by 2050

pickers in field

A new study looks at temperature increases in counties across the United States where crops are grown. It also looks at different strategies the industry could adopt to protect workers’ health.


April 23, 2020

Smart farming via satellite: NASA profiles UW researcher Faisal Hossain’s tech-based irrigation advisory system for Earth Day

Faisal Hossain, whose work has been featured by NASA

Noting the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, NASA has featured UW-led research by Faisal Hossain that uses satellite data to help farmers manage water more efficiently.


April 16, 2020

Dose of nature at home could help mental health, well-being during COVID-19

In light of stay-at-home orders, University of Washington researchers say studies show there is much to be gained from nature close to home, whether in a yard, on neighborhood walks or even indoors.


April 1, 2020

Study synthesizes what climate change means for Northwest wildfires

bare trunks

A University of Washington study, published this winter in Fire Ecology, takes a big-picture look at what climate change could mean for wildfires in the Northwest, considering Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana.


UW-created podcasts: ‘Crossing North’ by Scandinavian Studies — also College of Education, Information School’s Joe Janes, a discussion of soil health

Logo for podcast "Crossng North," by UW Dept of Scandinavian Studies

UW Notebook visits with the producer of “Crossing North,” a podcast by the Scandinavian Studies Department, and notes other podcasts on campus and an appearance by David Montgomery on the podcast “Undark.”


March 24, 2020

Ships’ emissions create measurable regional change in clouds

aerial image of ships' tracks

Years of cloud data over a shipping route between Europe and South Africa shows that pollution from ships has significantly increased the reflectivity of the clouds. More generally, the results suggest that industrial pollution’s effect on clouds has masked about a third of the warming due to fossil fuel burning since the late 1800s.


March 19, 2020

‘Sushi parasites’ have increased 283-fold in past 40 years

anisakis in salmon filet

A new study led by the University of Washington finds dramatic increases in the abundance of a worm that can be transmitted to humans who eat raw or undercooked seafood. Its 283-fold increase in abundance since the 1970s could have implications for the health of humans and marine mammals, which both can inadvertently eat the worm.


March 18, 2020

‘Fatal attraction’: Small carnivores drawn to kill sites, then ambushed by larger kin

cougar on wildlife camera

University of Washington researchers have discovered that large predators play a key yet unexpected role in keeping smaller predators and deer in check. Their “fatal attraction” theory finds that smaller predators are drawn to the kill sites of large predators by the promise of leftover scraps, but the scavengers may be killed themselves if their larger kin return for seconds.


March 12, 2020

Ocean acidification impacts oysters’ memory of environmental stress

shucked oysters

Researchers from the University of Washington School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences have discovered that ocean acidification impacts the ability of some oysters to pass down “memories” of environmental trauma to their offspring.


March 10, 2020

‘Age of A.I.’ documentary on YouTube features UW experts

three people stare at graph on screen

A documentary series produced and released this winter by YouTube features UW computer scientist Pedro Domingos and members of the UW-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network.


UW faculty join radio debate on climate change solutions

KUOW’s That’s Debatable on Wednesday will feature two University of Washington faculty members: Dan Schwartz, professor of chemical engineering and director of the Clean Energy Institute, and Kate Simonen, upcoming chair of the Department of Architecture and director of the Carbon Leadership Forum.


March 5, 2020

Visitors should avoid coming to UW campus to see cherry blossoms amid COVID-19 outbreak

blossoms up close

The University is asking people to avoid coming to campus this year to comply with Gov. Inslee’s March 11 proclamation that prohibits large gatherings of more than 250 people as our region combats the spread of COVID-19.


March 2, 2020

New honors for scientists studying ‘ecosystem sentinels’

P. Dee Boersma, a UW professor of biology and director of the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, is a finalist for the 2020 Indianapolis Prize for conservation, to be awarded later this year by the Indianapolis Zoological Society. Sue Moore, a scientist with the center and a UW affiliate professor of biology and of aquatic and fishery sciences, has won the 2020 IASC Medal, also known as the Arctic Medal, from the International Arctic Science Committee.


February 27, 2020

Video: Warming Arctic means less ice, bigger waves

ship surrounded by ice

Throughout the month of November 2019, a team of University of Washington researchers chased storms in the Arctic Ocean. The project, Coastal Ocean Dynamics in the Arctic, or CODA, is looking at how water currents shift and waves hit the coast with more open water, to provide better forecasts and predictions for the region’s future.


Thinning, prescribed burns protected forests during the massive Carlton Complex wildfire

treated forest

In the first major study following the devastating Carlton Complex fire in north central Washington, researchers from the University of Washington and U.S. Forest Service found that previous tree thinning and prescribed burns helped forests survive the fire.


February 26, 2020

Wildness in urban parks important for human well-being

beach in seattle

A new University of Washington study has found that not all forms of nature are created equal when considering benefits to people’s well-being. Experiencing wildness, specifically, is particularly important for physical and mental health.


February 12, 2020

Polar bears in Baffin Bay skinnier, having fewer cubs due to less sea ice

polar bear walking

Satellite tracking of adult females and visual monitoring of polar bears in Baffin Bay show changes from the 1990s to the period from 2009 to 2015. Bears in Baffin Bay are getting thinner and adult females are having fewer cubs than when sea ice was more available.


January 30, 2020

UW’s new broadcast meteorology course is first on West Coast

two people in front of green screen

The University of Washington has long boasted one of the country’s top programs in atmospheric sciences. Now, the UW is also teaching undergraduates how to share that knowledge online and on TV as a broadcast meteorologist.


January 28, 2020

Rethinking land conservation to protect species that will need to move with climate change

high alpine landscape in washington state

Researchers from the UW and Evergreen found that many species of animals and plants likely will need to migrate under climate change, and that conservation efforts will also need to shift to be effective.


January 24, 2020

Tiny, ancient meteorites suggest early Earth’s atmosphere was rich in carbon dioxide

shiny black balls on red background

Tiny meteorites that fell to Earth 2.7 billion years ago suggest that the atmosphere at that time was high in carbon dioxide, which agrees with current understanding of how our planet’s atmospheric gases changed over time.


January 16, 2020

Mobile protected areas needed to preserve biodiversity in the high seas

black bird with blue sky

Leaders are updating the laws for international waters that apply to most of the world’s ocean environment. This provides a unique opportunity, argues a UW Bothell marine scientist, to anticipate new techniques that allow protected zones to shift as species move under climate change.


January 15, 2020

‘The blob,’ food supply squeeze to blame for largest seabird die-off

dead common murre

When nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented. Scientists from the University of Washington, the U.S. Geological Survey and others blame an unexpected squeeze on the ecosystem’s food supply, brought on by a severe and long-lasting marine heat wave known as “the blob.”


January 13, 2020

Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows

a fishing vessel in california

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding, according to a new study led by the University of Washington.


December 30, 2019

Life could have emerged from lakes with high phosphorus

A lake in Africa with flamingoes and zebras along its shore.

Life as we know it requires phosphorus, which is scarce. So, how did a lifeless environment on the early Earth supply this key ingredient? A new UW study, published Dec. 30 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds an answer to this problem in certain types of carbonate-rich lakes.


December 16, 2019

Resident orcas’ appetite likely reason for decline of big Chinook salmon

orca chasing chinook salmon

Large, old Chinook salmon have mostly disappeared from the West Coast. A new University of Washington and NOAA study points to the recent rise of resident killer whales, and their insatiable appetite for large Chinook salmon, as the main driver behind the decline of the big fish.


December 12, 2019

Barrels of ancient Antarctic air aim to track history of rare gas

snow and tents

An Antarctic field campaign last winter led by the U.S. and Australia has successfully extracted some of the largest samples of air dating from the 1870s until today. Researchers will use the samples to look for changes in the molecules that scrub the atmosphere of methane and other gases.


December 10, 2019

UW scientist to lead NASA field study of East Coast snowstorms

professor in office

To better understand large, disruptive snowstorms, a University of Washington atmospheric scientist will lead a NASA field campaign this winter to fly through major snowstorms along the East Coast. The multi-institutional team will observe snow as it forms in clouds to help with satellite monitoring of snowfall and ultimately improve forecasts.


December 4, 2019

Outlook for the polar regions in a 2 degrees warmer world

four male bears eating a whale

With 2019 on pace as one of the warmest years on record, a new international study reveals how rapidly the Arctic is warming and examines global consequences of continued polar warming.


Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database

ponderosa pine forest

Researchers from the University of Washington and Michigan Technological University have created the first comprehensive database of all the wildfire fuels that have been measured across North America. Ultimately, it can help scientists make more informed decisions about fire and smoke situations.


December 3, 2019

Communities around Sea-Tac Airport exposed to a unique mix of air pollution associated with aircraft

Communities underneath and downwind of jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exposed to a type of ultrafine particle pollution that is distinctly associated with aircraft, according to a new University of Washington study, the first to identify the unique signature of aircraft emissions in the state of Washington. The finding comes from the two-year…


For some corals, meals can come with a side of microplastics

microplastics seen in a water tank

A new experiment by the University of Washington has found that some corals are more likely to eat microplastics when they are consuming other food, yet microplastics alone are undesirable.


November 26, 2019

Six UW faculty members named AAAS fellows

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named six faculty members from the University of Washington as AAAS Fellows, according to a Nov. 26 announcement. They are part of a cohort of 443 new fellows for 2019, all chosen by their peers for “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.”


November 20, 2019

Emissions from electricity generation lead to disproportionate number of premature deaths for some racial groups

A coal power plant in West Virginia.

UW researchers have found that air pollution from electricity generation emissions in 2014 led to about 16,000 premature deaths in the continental U.S. In many states, the majority of the health impacts came from emissions originating in other states.


November 5, 2019

Fall storms, coastal erosion focus of northern Alaska research cruise

freight shipping container in foreground and research ship in background

A University of Washington team is leaving to study how fall storms, dwindling sea ice and vulnerable coastlines might combine in a changing Arctic.


November 4, 2019

Swordfish as oceanographers? Satellite tags allow research of ocean’s ‘twilight zone’ off Florida

closeup of swordfish

UW marine scientists are using high-tech tags to record the movements of swordfish — big, deep-water, migratory, open-ocean fish that are poorly studied — and get a window into the ocean depths they inhabit.



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