UW News

College of the Environment


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.


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

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 13, 2020

Researchers at AAAS to discuss latest science on Cascadia earthquake hazards

earthquake damage to brick building

At a Saturday afternoon session, researchers from the University of Washington and federal agencies will discuss the emerging research on Pacific Northwest megaquakes.


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.


February 10, 2020

Faculty/staff honors: Awards in architecture education, biomaterials research; nursing, cloud computing fellowships; and drama leader named among most Seattle’s most influential

statue of George Washington on UW campus

Recent honors to UW faculty and staff members include awards for architectural education and biomaterials research, fellowships in nursing and cloud computing, a professor named among Seattle’s most influential people and a big news year for “a burgeoning band of embodied carbon busters.”


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 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.


January 9, 2020

By the numbers: UW in the media in 2019

collage of portraits

In 2019, the University of Washington was mentioned in 4,143 news articles around the world. Among those, UW experts were quoted 2,290 times: 1,185 in national or international outlets and 1,105 in regional and local outlets.


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 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.



Next page