UW News

College of the Environment


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 6, 2019

Astronomy fellowship demonstrates effective measures to dismantle bias, increase diversity in STEM

a person smiling and looking at the camera

Joyce Yen — director of the University of Washington’s ADVANCE Center for Institutional Change, an NSF-funded body to promote female STEM faculty on campus — recently worked with the Heising-Simons Foundation to dismantle bias and promote diversity in a prominent grant that the Foundation awards to postdoctoral researchers in planetary science. In this Q&A, Yen shares the many, sometimes counterintuitive ways bias can work against goals toward greater diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM fields.


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

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 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.


October 31, 2019

Washington’s first student-built satellite preparing for launch

tall silver rectangle inside glass box that reads "flight hardware"

After years of preparation, a tiny satellite built by UW students is scheduled to launch early Saturday, Nov. 2, from a NASA flight facility in Virginia. The launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV.


October 28, 2019

Precision mapping with satellite, drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease

overview of river in senegal

A team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has discovered clues in the environment that help identify transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that is second only to malaria in its global health impact.


October 23, 2019

UW team sending autonomous surfboard to explore Antarctic waters

researchers on ship lowering large surfboard into water

This week a UW team is releasing a robotic surfboard to explore the surface ocean around Antarctica.


October 21, 2019

Humpback whale population on the rise after near miss with extinction

humpback whale

A new study finds that the western South Atlantic humpback population has grown to 25,000 whales. Researchers, including co-authors from the University of Washington, believe this new estimate is now close to pre-whaling numbers.


October 17, 2019

Old friends and new enemies: How evolutionary history can predict insect invader impacts

Dead trees

A team led by the University of Washington has developed a way to help foresters predict which nonnative insect invasions will be problematic, and help managers decide where to allocate resources to avoid widespread tree death.


October 15, 2019

Piranha fish swap old teeth for new simultaneously

ct scan of a piranha fish

With the help of new technologies, a team led by the University of Washington has confirmed that piranhas — and their plant-eating cousins, pacus — lose and regrow all the teeth on one side of their face multiple times throughout their lives. How they do it may help explain why the fish go to such efforts to replace their teeth.


October 14, 2019

Fishing for the triple bottom line: profit, planet — and people

fish swimming

In a new study, an interdisciplinary group of researchers used Pacific herring in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, as a case study for modeling the implicit tradeoffs within the triple bottom line that result from various fisheries management decisions.


October 2, 2019

Abigail Swann on Science News’ list of 10 young scientists to watch

woman in blue dress by tree

The University of Washington’s Abigail Swann is honored by Science News on its list of 10 promising early- and mid-career scientists.


Inspired by Northern clingfish, researchers make a better suction cup

clingfish in water

A University of Washington team inspired by the clingfish’s suction power set out to develop an artificial suction cup that borrows from nature’s design. Their prototype actually performed better than the clingfish.


October 1, 2019

Engineering lecture series focuses on future of food

Future of food banner. Purple text over a picture of people harvesting rice

This fall the University of Washington’s annual engineering lecture series will feature three UW engineers and scientists who are working across disciplines to manage the quality and quantity of the food we eat and grow.


September 25, 2019

Fish micronutrients ‘slipping through the hands’ of malnourished people

man selling fish

Millions of people are suffering from malnutrition despite some of the most nutritious fish species in the world being caught near their homes, according to new research published Sept. 25 in Nature.


September 20, 2019

Two UW ice researchers to participate in year-long drift across Arctic Ocean

ship surrounded by sea ice and dark skies

Two UW researchers — Bonnie Light, a principal physicist at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory and an affiliate associate professor of atmospheric sciences, and Madison Smith, a recent UW graduate who is now doing her postdoctoral research at the UW — will join for the fifth of the six two-month legs, in summer 2020.


September 9, 2019

Lightning ‘superbolts’ form over oceans from November to February

Flash of lightning on black background

A study of superbolts, which release a thousand times more electrical energy in the low-frequency range than regular lightning bolts, finds they occur at very different times and places than regular lightning. Superbolts tend to strike over particular parts of the oceans, while regular lightning strikes over land.


September 4, 2019

New study tracks sulfur-based metabolism in the open ocean

researchers on ship

UW oceanographers used lab experiments and seawater samples to learn how photosynthetic microbes and ocean bacteria use sulfur, a plentiful marine nutrient.


August 21, 2019

3 UW graduate students earn NASA fellowships, continue legacy of success

rainier vista

Three University of Washington graduate students are among this year’s recipients of a prestigious NASA fellowship that funds student research projects in the fields of Earth and planetary sciences and astrophysics.


August 19, 2019

USGS awards $10.4M to ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system in the Pacific Northwest

The U.S. Geological Survey announced $10.4 million in funding to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, based at University of Washington, to support the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system. Some $7.3 million of the two-year funding total will go to the UW.


August 12, 2019

First evidence of human-caused climate change melting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

white snow and ocean

A new study by U.S. and U.K. scientists finds that in addition to natural variations in winds that drive warmer water to the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, which last about a decade, there has been a longer-term change in the winds that can be linked with human activities.


August 8, 2019

More than 100 years of Arctic sea ice volume reconstructed with help from historic ships’ logbooks

black and white photo of ship

A new study provides a 110-year record of the total volume of Arctic sea ice, using early U.S. ships’ voyages to verify the earlier part of the record. The longer record puts the recent loss into perspective.


August 6, 2019

How the Pacific Ocean influences long-term drought in the Southwestern U.S.

paw print on cracked mud

Analyzing the full life cycle of long-term droughts and how they relate to El Niño and La Niña conditions in the Pacific Ocean could eventually lead to better prediction of damaging, multiyear droughts in the Southwestern U.S.


July 30, 2019

Soundbites: UW hosts student robotics ‘moon landing’ challenge

Two fifth-grade boys from Forks, WA point out design elements of their LEGO lunar rover.

A robotics challenge July 20th at the UW featured twenty-eight teams of middle and high schoolers from Forks to Walla Walla and from Bellingham to Olympia. The event marked a half-century since the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon and two U.S. astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, walked its surface.


Video: UW hosts student robotics ‘moon landing’ challenge

Two fifth-grade boys from Forks, WA point out design elements of their LEGO lunar rover.

A robotics challenge July 20th at the UW featured twenty-eight teams of middle and high schoolers from Forks to Walla Walla and from Bellingham to Olympia. The event marked a half-century since the Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon and two U.S. astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, walked its surface.


July 24, 2019

How to consider nature’s impact on mental health in city plans

two children in park

An international team led by the UW and Stanford has created a framework for how city planners and municipalities around the world can start to measure the mental health benefits of nature and incorporate those into plans and policies for cities and their residents.


July 23, 2019

What motivates people to join — and stick with — citizen science projects?

bird and measuring tape on sand

After more than 20 years, the UW’s Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team, or COASST, is itself the subject of scientific study. Social scientists are studying the program’s success to extract lessons for all citizen science efforts.


July 17, 2019

UW hosts student robotics challenge Friday to mark 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 moon landing

three girls with drone

This Friday, teams of 5th- through 12th-grade students from across Washington state will complete a challenge in Kane Hall to mimic the 1969 Apollo moon landing, using drones and Lego robots.


July 16, 2019

8 UW professors elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2019

Suzzallo Library at night

Eight scientists and engineers from the University of Washington have been elected this year to the Washington State Academy of Sciences.


July 11, 2019

Super salty, subzero Arctic water provides peek at possible life on other planets

ice crystals on roof of cave

A UW team has discovered thriving communities of bacteria in Alaskan “cryopegs,” trapped layers of sediment with water so salty that it remains liquid at below-freezing temperatures. The setting may be similar to environments on Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, or other bodies farther from the sun.


July 9, 2019

UW professors to receive 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Six University of Washington professors are to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, according to an announcement July 2 from the White House. The award, also known as the PECASE, is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers “who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”


Coral reefs shifting away from equator, new study finds

coral reef

Coral reefs are retreating from equatorial waters and establishing new reefs in more temperate regions, according to new research by the University of Washington and other institutions.


July 1, 2019

Study shows that management and evolution give hope to coral reefs facing the effects of climate change

green sea turtle

A new study released July 1 in Nature Climate Change gives hope for coral reefs. Launched by the nonprofit Coral Reef Alliance, with lead and senior authors at the University of Washington, the study is one of the first to demonstrate that management that takes evolution and adaptation into account can help rescue coral reefs from the effects of climate change.


June 20, 2019

Video: Surprising discoveries in coral reefs found in low-light waters

It uses a pincher like hand to grasp a piece of fan shaped coral.

Jacqueline Padilla-Gamiño, an assistant professor in the UW School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, spent up to eight hours at a time in the cramped quarters of a submersible watercraft, studying the largest known coral reef in the mesophotic zone, located in the Hawaiian Archipelago.


June 19, 2019

Deep submersible dives shed light on rarely explored coral reefs

corals in the mesophotic zone

  Just beyond where conventional scuba divers can go is an area of the ocean that still is largely unexplored. In waters this deep — about 100 to at least 500 feet below the surface — little to no light breaks through. Researchers must rely on submersible watercraft or sophisticated diving equipment to be able…


June 18, 2019

First book published on fishes of the Salish Sea

rockfish illustration

The first book documenting all of the known species of fishes that live in the Salish Sea is now available.



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