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July 27, 2021

Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline

cubes of forest landscape up in flames

A model of the eastern California forests of the Sierra Nevada looks at the longer-term future of wildfires under future climate change scenarios. Results show an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity, followed by recurring fires of decreasing area — a pattern that could apply to other hot, dry forests in the West.


July 26, 2021

Scientists model ‘true prevalence’ of COVID-19 throughout pandemic

US map with states represented by hexagons showing COVID-19 infection fatality rate

Two University of Washington scientists have developed a statistical framework that incorporates key COVID-19 data — such as case counts and deaths due to COVID-19 — to model the true prevalence of this disease in the United States and individual states. Their approach, published the week of July 26 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, projects that in the U.S. as many as 60% of COVID-19 cases went undetected as of March 7, 2021, the last date for which the dataset they employed is available.


July 23, 2021

Older workers needed for UW study on worker safety during COVID-19 pandemic

Restaurant server at table

Public health researchers have learned a lot about how the pandemic affected workers and exacerbated existing health disparities that exist in many communities. However, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the experience of workers deemed essential in the food industry and who were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, such those working in…


July 22, 2021

Gaming graphics card allows faster, more precise control of fusion energy experiments

A prototype of the UW's current fusion experiment.

UW researchers have developed a method that uses a gaming graphics card to control plasma formation in their prototype fusion reactor.


July 20, 2021

New 3D images of shark intestines show they function like Nikola Tesla’s valve

three dogfish sharks

For more than a century, researchers have relied on flat sketches of sharks’ digestive systems to discern how they function — and how what they eat and excrete impacts other species in the ocean. Now, researchers have produced a series of high-resolution, 3D scans of intestines from nearly three dozen shark species that will advance the understanding of how sharks eat and digest their food.


July 8, 2021

Remotely-piloted sailboats monitor ‘cold pools’ in tropical environments

red sailboat on blue ocean

A UW-led study uses data from remotely-piloted sailboats to better understand cold air pools — pockets of cooler air that form when rain evaporates below tropical storm clouds. These fleeting weather phenomena are thought to influence tropical weather patterns.


July 1, 2021

How long can a person live? The 21st century may see a record-breaker

two elderly people sit on a bench

A new University of Washington study calculates the probability of living past age 110, which, though rare, likely will increase this century.


June 29, 2021

Air pollution from wildfires impacts ability to observe birds

yellow warbler up close

Researchers from the University of Washington provide a first look at the probability of observing common birds as air pollution worsens during wildfire seasons. They found that smoke affected the ability to detect more than a third of the bird species studied in Washington state over a four-year period. Sometimes smoke made it harder to observe birds, while other species were actually easier to detect when smoke was present.


June 17, 2021

Researchers discover yessotoxins, produced by certain phytoplankton, to be a culprit behind summer mass shellfish mortality events in Washington

dying clams on the beach

Back in the summers of 2018 and 2019, the shellfish industry in Washington state was rocked by mass mortalities of its crops. Now, researchers think they have figured out why: high concentrations of yessotoxinss, which are produced by blooms of certain phytoplankton. The researchers’ findings were published last month in the open-access journal Harmful Algae.


June 16, 2021

Pandemic-era crowdfunding more common, successful in affluent communities

dollar bill with a few coins on top

A new University of Washington study of requests and donations to the popular crowdfunding site GoFundMe, along with Census data, shows stark inequities in where the money went and how much was donated.


June 14, 2021

UW researchers can turn a single photo into a video

A massive waterfall surrounded by green trees and bushes. A large building is in the back left of this photo.

UW researchers have developed a deep learning method that can animate any flowing material, including waterfalls, smoke or clouds.


June 11, 2021

Edge of Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf is ripping apart, causing key Antarctic glacier to gain speed

ridged ice and airplane wing

Satellite images show that from 2017 to 2020, Pine Island Glacier’s ice shelf lost about one-fifth of its area, mostly in three dramatic breaks. This caused the glacier to speed up by 12%, hastening its downward motion and boosting its contribution to rising seas.


Smartphone camera can illuminate bacteria causing acne, dental plaques

Image of a smartphone that was modified for a scientific experiment.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method that uses smartphone-derived images to reveal potentially harmful bacteria on skin and in oral cavities. Their approach can visually identify microbes on skin contributing to acne and slow wound healing, as well as bacteria in the oral cavity that can cause gingivitis and dental plaques.


June 10, 2021

Cause, scope determined for deadly winter debris flow in Uttarakhand, India

A destroyed hydroelectric plant in the mountains

On Feb. 7, 2021, a wall of debris and water barreled down river valleys in India, destroyed two hydropower facilities and left more than 200 people dead or missing. A self-organized coalition of 53 scientists from 14 countries, including researchers from the University of Washington, worked nonstop following the disaster to investigate the cause, scope and impacts.


June 9, 2021

Endangered blue whales recorded off southwest coast of India

diver in water

Endangered blue whales are present and singing off the southwest coast of India. The results provide insight into a poorly studied population and suggest conservation measures should include this region.


June 3, 2021

South Pole and East Antarctica warmer than previously thought during last ice age, two studies show

closeup of ice in metal barrel

University of Washington glaciologists are co-authors on two papers that analyzed Antarctic ice cores to understand the continent’s air temperatures during the most recent glacial period. The results help understand how the region behaves during a major climate transition.


June 1, 2021

Regional survey reveals work, leisure habits during the pandemic

traffic on Interstate 5 through downtown Seattle at sunset

The COVID-19 Mobility Survey, a partnership of the University of Washington and the Puget Sound Regional Council, showed how remote workers’ transportation, work and other lifestyle habits changed over the first several months of the pandemic.


May 27, 2021

Seabirds face dire threats from climate change, human activity — especially in Northern Hemisphere

seabird holding a fish

Many seabirds in the Northern Hemisphere are struggling to breed — and in the Southern Hemisphere, they may not be far behind. These are the conclusions of a study, published May 28 in Science, analyzing more than 50 years of breeding records for 67 seabird species worldwide.


May 21, 2021

Pandemic-era paleontology: A wayward skull, at-home fossil analyses and a first for Antarctic amphibians

An image showing a block of amphibian fossils from Early Triassic Antarctica

Researchers at the University of Washington and its Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture have discovered the first fossil evidence of an ancient amphibian, Micropholis stowi, from Antarctica. Micropholis lived in the Early Triassic, shortly after Earth’s largest mass extinction. It was previously known only from fossils in South Africa, and its presence in Antarctica has implications for how amphibians adapted to high-latitude regions in this dynamic period of Earth’s history.


May 5, 2021

Ice core data show why, despite lower sulfur emissions in U.S. and Western Europe, air pollution is dropping more slowly

graphic of Earth with chemical pathways

Ice core data from Greenland shows why air pollution is dropping more slowly than sulfur emissions reductions. As cloud droplets become less acidic, the chemical reaction that turns sulfur dioxide into sulfate aerosol gets more efficient. The new results can improve the models that project air quality and climate change.


FASER is born: new experiment will study particles that interact with dark matter

The newest experiment at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, is now in place at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva. FASER, or Forward Search Experiment, was approved by CERN’s research board in March 2019. Now installed in the LHC tunnel, this experiment, which seeks to understand particles that scientists believe may interact with dark matter, is now undergoing tests before data collection commences next year.


May 3, 2021

Earthquake early warnings launch in Washington, completing West Coast-wide ShakeAlert system

hand holding phone with alert

The U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Washington-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, and state emergency managers on Tuesday, May 4, will activate the system that sends earthquake early warnings throughout Washington state. This completes the rollout of ShakeAlert, an automated system that gives people living in Washington, Oregon and California advance warning of incoming earthquakes.


Genetically engineered grass cleanses soil of toxic pollutants left by military explosives, new research shows

Grasses growing in tubes in the foreground. Two people stand behind them. Another person standing to the right.

A team, which includes researchers from the University of Washington, demonstrated that over the course of three years, a genetically engineered switchgrass could break down an explosive chemical in plots of soil at a military range.


April 28, 2021

People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

A picture of power lines at sunset. Everything is hazy.

A new study from researchers at multiple universities, including the UW, shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.


April 27, 2021

Thousands of baby sea stars born at UW lab are sign of hope for endangered species

adult sea stars eating mussels

Scientists at the University of Washington, in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy, are raising sunflower sea stars in captivity, with the goal of learning more about this species and exploring eventual reintroduction to the wild, if determined to be advisable.


April 22, 2021

UW biology professors Jeffrey Riffell, David Perkel awarded research grants from Human Frontier Science Program

UW biology professors Jeffrey Riffell and David Perkel have received grants from the Human Frontier Science Program.


April 21, 2021

A growing problem of ‘deepfake geography’: How AI falsifies satellite images

satellite photo of Tacoma using geospatial data from Beijing, with shadows cast from most buildings

Using satellite photos of three cities and drawing upon methods used to manipulate video and audio files, a team of researchers led by the University of Washington set out to identify new ways of detecting fake satellite photos and warn of the dangers of falsified geospatial data.


April 20, 2021

How lessons from past emergencies could improve the pandemic response

bottle of hand sanitizer, gloves and a mask on a table

The federal government, in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, could learn from how the nation responded to Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and the H1N1 swine flu, a new University of Washington study found.


April 19, 2021

Arguing on the internet: UW researchers studying how to make online arguments productive

A person looking shocked at what they are seeing on their phone

UW researchers worked with almost 260 people to understand online disagreements and to develop potential design interventions that could make these discussions more productive and centered around relationship-building.


April 14, 2021

Faculty/staff honors: Guggenheim fellowship, Fulbright award, cybersecurity policy advocate

Recent honors and achievements for UW faculty and staff include a Guggenheim fellowship in film history, a Fulbright fellowship for bioethics research in South Africa and membership in a new state cybersecurity team formed by the National Governors Association.


April 13, 2021

Deep earthquakes within the Juan de Fuca plate produce few aftershocks

cracked pavement on highway

In the Cascadia subduction zone, medium- and large-sized “intraslab” earthquakes, in which the slip happens within the oceanic plate and below the continental plate, will likely produce only a few detectable aftershocks, according to a new study from the University of Washington and the U.S. Geological Survey.


April 7, 2021

First results from Muon g-2 experiment strengthen evidence of new physics

A picture of the giant magnetic ring at the heart of a particle physics experiment

The first results from the Muon g-2 experiment hosted at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory show fundamental particles called muons behaving in a way not predicted by the Standard Model of particle physics. These results confirm an earlier experiment of the same name performed at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Combined, the two results show strong evidence that our best theoretical model of the subatomic world is incomplete. One potential explanation would be the existence of undiscovered particles or forces.


April 1, 2021

New system that uses smartphone or computer cameras to measure pulse, respiration rate could help future personalized telehealth appointments

A person holding a phone in front of their face

A UW-led team has developed a method that uses the camera on a person’s smartphone or computer to take their pulse and breathing rate from a real-time video of their face.


March 31, 2021

Thicker-leaved tropical plants may flourish under climate change, which could be good news for climate

tropical forest

As carbon dioxide continues to rise, multiple changes in the leaves of tropical plants may help these ecosystems perform better under climate change than previous studies had suggested.


March 25, 2021

Video: Tasty options as researchers tap a new forestry product

Maple syrup is being poured on a round waffle on a white plate.

Scientists from the University of Washington are testing the viability of making maple syrup in the Pacific Northwest. Long associated with Canada or Vermont, this sweet forest product that has graced many a breakfast table may be part of this region’s future.


March 22, 2021

Warming temperatures tripled Arctic lightning strikes over the past decade

Lightning strike

Lightning strikes in the Arctic tripled from 2010 to 2020, a finding University of Washington researchers attribute to rising temperatures due to human-caused climate change. The results, researchers say, suggest Arctic residents in northern Russia, Canada, Europe and Alaska need to prepare for the danger of more frequent lightning strikes.


March 19, 2021

‘A turning point’: UW Population Health Initiative’s pandemic grants changed how the university works

Rainier horizon

A year ago, seemingly overnight, streets emptied, shops boarded up, grocery shelves were cleared, schools closed and the University of Washington led universities nationwide in moving all instruction online. Nearly all of us disappeared inside, stunned and staring out at a world suddenly paralyzed by something we’d only seen in movies or read about in books:…


March 18, 2021

‘By-the-wind sailor’ jellies wash ashore in massive numbers after warmer winters

jellies washed on shore.

Thanks to 20 years of observations from thousands of citizen scientists, University of Washington researchers have discovered distinct patterns in the mass strandings of by-the-wind sailor jellies. Specifically, large strandings happened simultaneously from the northwest tip of Washington south to the Mendocino coast in California, and in years when winters were warmer than usual.


March 17, 2021

How five global regions could achieve a successful, equitable ‘Blue Economy’

three colored world maps

The future of an equitable and sustainable global ocean, or “Blue Economy,” depends on more than natural or technological resources. A new study finds that socioeconomic and governance conditions such as national stability, corruption and human rights greatly affect different regions’ ability to achieve a Blue Economy — one that is socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically viable.


March 15, 2021

New Stroum Center podcast series ‘Jewish Questions’ explores anti-Semitism, features UW faculty

“Jewish Questions,” a podcast from the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, explores issues of Jewish life, politics, history and culture



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