UW News

Environment


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.


December 3, 2018

‘Carbon accountability’: UW architecture professor Kate Simonen sees progress in work to reduce embodied carbon in construction materials

Kate Simonen, UW professor of architecture and head of the Carbon Leadership Forum

Kate Simonen, architect, engineer and UW associate professor of architecture, discusses recent work by her and the Carbon Leadership Forum toward reducing embodied carbon in construction materials.


November 29, 2018

Forests, human health, Northwest outlook: UW researchers involved in Fourth National Climate Assessment

cover of Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II showing wildfires

University of Washington researchers contributed to the Fourth National Climate Assessment that considers impacts, risks and adaptation across the United States.


November 27, 2018

Threatened tropical coral reefs form complex, ancient associations with bacteria, researchers say

Fish swimming in a coral reef.

In a comprehensive study of healthy corals published Nov. 22 in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists from the University of Washington Bothell, Pennsylvania State University and Oregon State University report that coral bacteria are a surprisingly diverse bunch — and that different sections of the coral body can host unique communities of bacteria.


November 26, 2018

UW, Tableau create interactive tool to explore more than a century of Pacific Northwest weather observations

graph with upward trend

A new, free tool with temperature and precipitation records across Washington, Oregon, Idaho and western Montana as far back as 1881 lets users play around to discover significant trends. It also includes historical snow records for Washington state.


November 14, 2018

First tally of U.S.-Russia polar bears finds a healthy population

polar bears on rocky beach

The first assessment of polar bears that live in the biologically rich Chukchi Sea region that spans the U.S. and Russia, finds that the population is healthy and not yet suffering from declining sea ice.


New resources support tribes in preparing for climate change

people on the coast

The University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and regional tribal partners have developed a collection of resources that may be useful to tribes at any stage in the process of evaluating their vulnerability to climate change. The project is a partnership among tribes, tribal associations, universities and the federal government.


November 8, 2018

Common allergen, ragweed, will shift northward under climate change

ragweed against blue sky

The first study of common ragweed’s future U.S. distribution finds the top allergen will expand its range northward as the climate warms, reaching new parts of upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, while retreating from current hot spots.


November 7, 2018

After a bad winter in the ocean, female Magellanic penguins suffer most, study shows

A view of South America from space.

Researchers from the University of Washington have shown how Magellanic penguins fare during the winter months when they spend months at sea feeding. They have discovered that oceanographic features are more likely to negatively impact the body conditions of Magellanic penguin females, but not males, when the penguins return to their nesting grounds in spring.


November 6, 2018

Updated book compiles 45 years of changes in Pacific Northwest flora

Botanists at the University of Washington’s Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture have created a much-needed second edition of the “Flora of the Pacific Northwest.”


November 2, 2018

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

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


Racial, ethnic minorities face greater vulnerability to wildfires

firefighting in oregon 2018

Massive wildfires, which may be getting more intense due to climate change and a long history of fire-suppression policies, have strikingly unequal effects on minority communities, a new study shows.


October 25, 2018

Q&A: Provost Mark Richards’ welcome lecture asks: ‘What really killed the dinosaurs?’

Mark Richards in front of brick building

Provost Mark Richards answers questions surrounding the topic of his welcome lecture, Tuesday afternoon in the HUB Lyceum.


Valuing older buildings: Architecture professor’s book argues for reuse rather than wrecking ball

In her new book, Kathryn Rogers Merlino, UW associate professor of architecture, argues for the environmental benefit of reusing buildings rather than tearing them down and building anew.


October 24, 2018

A dose of nature: New UW initiative to spearhead research on health benefits of time outside

A new University of Washington initiative seeks to advance research on the health benefits of time spent in nature, connecting academic researchers with pediatricians, childcare providers, mental health practitioners and others who work with various populations on critical health issues.


October 23, 2018

Sockeye carcasses tossed on shore over two decades spur tree growth

sockeye in alaska

In a 20-year study, UW researchers and colleagues have found that nearly 600,000 pounds of sockeye salmon carcasses tossed to the left side of a small, remote stream in southwest Alaska, helped trees on that side of the stream grow faster than their counterparts on the other side.


October 17, 2018

UW atmospheric scientists to study most extreme storms on Earth, up close

Flash of lightning on black background

UW atmospheric scientists leave next week for a six-week field campaign in South America to study the most intense storms on the planet.


October 12, 2018

New UW-authored children’s book offers a robot’s-eye view of the deep ocean

Book cover showing cartoon robot in ocean

In a new UW-authored book, a cartoon robot takes young readers on a School of Oceanography voyage to explore the deep ocean.


October 11, 2018

UW professor of global health a lead author on new climate report

Kristie Ebi, a UW professor of global health, was a lead author on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s “Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 C” that compares the effects of 1.5 versus 2 degrees Celsius of global warming.


October 9, 2018

Polar bears gorged on whale carcasses to survive past warm periods, but strategy won’t suffice as climate warms

four male bears eating a whale

A new study led by the University of Washington found that while dead whales are valuable sources of fat and protein for some polar bears, this resource will likely not be enough to sustain most bear populations in the future when the Arctic becomes ice-free in summers.


October 8, 2018

High-res data offer most detailed look yet at trawl fishing footprint around the world

trawling boat

A new analysis that uses high-resolution data for 24 ocean regions in Africa, Europe, North and South America and Australasia shows that 14 percent of the overall seafloor shallower than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) is trawled. The paper shows that the footprint of bottom-trawl fishing on continental shelves and slopes across the world’s oceans often has been substantially overestimated.


October 4, 2018

Q&A with Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

man smiling

Harold Tobin, who joins the UW this fall as a faculty member in Earth and space sciences and director of the regional seismic sensing network, discusses earthquake early warning, seismic risks and the Pacific Northwest’s “big one.”


October 2, 2018

Video: Washington’s state climatologist predicts this will be an El Niño year

people cross-country skiing

Washington state climatologist Nick Bond explains what our upcoming El Niño winter means for the Pacific Northwest.


Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell brings leadership to UW community, new EarthLab initiative

people on the beach

Former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell brings a lifetime of experience in business, nonprofits, government and the outdoors to the University of Washington, where one of her tasks is to help shape the future of EarthLab, a new university-wide institute that seeks to connect scholars with community partners to solve our most difficult environmental problems.


September 28, 2018

Researchers release endangered crows into the forests of Pacific island

Aga nestlings are reared in captivity by San Diego Zoo Global. Photo of young bird with its mouth open, facing camera.

  For more than 2 million years, the native forests on the Pacific islands of Guam and Rota were home to several thousand crows, members of a species found nowhere else on Earth. But over the last 60 years, the Mariana crow — called the Aga in the Chamorro language — has completely disappeared from…


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 17, 2018

Shift in large-scale Atlantic circulation causes lower-oxygen water to invade Canada’s Gulf of St. Lawrence

red and blue swirls on map

Rapid deoxygenation in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is caused by shifts in two of the ocean’s most powerful currents: the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current. A detailed model shows that large-scale climate change is causing oxygen to drop in the deeper parts of this biologically rich waterway.


September 15, 2018

Video: Dry and warm — summer 2018 conditions in Washington state

Washington map with orange and red

The assistant state climatologist, Karin Bumbaco, looks back on an unusually hot and dry summer — the third-hottest summer that Washington state has experienced since 1895.


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.


September 6, 2018

Volcano under ice sheet suggests thickening of West Antarctic ice is short-term

animation of straight blue line over bumpy base

Evidence left by a volcano under the ice sheet suggests that the observed bulging of ice in West Antarctica is a short-term feature that may not affect the glacier’s motion over the long term.


August 21, 2018

Policy pivot: A new emphasis on restoration to protect Puget Sound

University of Washington researchers have found policies are shifting toward restoration projects that include input from more groups and offer a range of benefits to Puget Sound, including flood control, salmon recovery, recreation and habitat protection.


August 20, 2018

California plain shows surprising winners and losers from prolonged drought

wildflowers on hill

Meticulously tracking of 423 species before, during and after the worst droughts to hit California in more than a thousand years shows surprising patterns. Key prey species plummeted in the third year of the drought, and carnivores were hardest hit in later years.


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.


August 13, 2018

UW forest biologist on wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, California

firefighting in oregon 2018

Forest biologist and University of Washington professor David Peterson explains which natural materials burn hotter and faster during a wildfire, what homeowners can do to protect their properties and how climate change is impacting the fire season.


August 1, 2018

Harmful dyes in lakes, rivers can become colorless with new, sponge-like material

the dye starts to become clear

A team led by the University of Washington has created an environmentally friendly way to remove color from dyes in water in a matter of seconds.


July 30, 2018

Sea-level rise report contains best projections yet for Washington’s coasts

Google Map of Washington

A University of Washington report provides the best projections yet for sea-level rise due to climate change at 171 sites along Washington’s coasts.


July 23, 2018

Study shows why eastern U.S. air pollution levels are more stagnant in winter

hazy city from above

Observations over the eastern U.S. show why emissions reductions haven’t achieved the same results in winter as they have in summer.


July 18, 2018

Atlantic Ocean circulation is not collapsing – but as it shifts gears, global warming will reaccelerate

Depiction of Atlantic circulation with red arrows pointing north and blue arrows pointing south.

New research suggests the Atlantic Ocean is transitioning back to its slower phase, which means average global air temperatures will go back to rising more quickly.


July 2, 2018

Study identifies which marine mammals are most at risk from increased Arctic ship traffic

aerial view of whales surrounded by ice

Regions of Arctic water are becoming ice-free in late summer and early fall. A new study is the first to consider potential impacts on the marine mammals that use this region and identify which populations will be the most vulnerable to ships.


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.



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