UW News

College of the Environment


October 19, 2020

Early-arriving endangered Chinook salmon take the brunt of sea lion predation on the Columbia

sea lion eating a salmon

A new University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries study found that sea lions have the largest negative effect on early-arriving endangered Chinook salmon in the lower Columbia River. The results of this study will publish Oct. 18 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.


October 15, 2020

Are climate scientists being too cautious when linking extreme weather to climate change?

stormcloud in front of field

Climate science has focused on avoiding false alarms when linking extreme weather to climate change. But when meteorologists warn of hazardous weather, they include a second key measure of success — the probability of detection.


September 30, 2020

Greenland is on track to lose ice faster than in any century over the past 12,000 years, study finds

ridged ice from above

A new study combines ice cores, geologic records and computer models to understand the past, present and future of the Greenland Ice Sheet. The results show that emissions this century have a big influence on how much ice will be lost from Greenland.


September 29, 2020

Aquatic hitchhikers: Using mobile technology to predict invasive species transmission

A new University of Washington study uses passive data from a fishing technology company to model the movement of anglers and predict where aquatic invasive species may be spreading.


September 23, 2020

Some polar bears in far north are getting short-term benefit from thinning ice

polar bear with ice and water in background

The small subpopulation of polar bears in Kane Basin were doing better, on average, in recent years than in the 1990s. The bears are experiencing short-term benefits from thinning and shrinking multiyear sea ice that allows more sunlight to reach the ocean surface, which makes the system more ecologically productive.


September 16, 2020

Most landslides in western Oregon triggered by heavy rainfall, not big earthquakes

bare slope and mountains in distance

Researchers at the University of Washington, Portland State University and the University of Oregon have shown that deep-seated landslides in the central Oregon Coast Range are triggered mostly by rainfall, not by large offshore earthquakes. The open-access paper was published Sept. 16 in Science Advances. “Geomorphologists have long understood the importance of rainfall in triggering…


Marine animals live where ocean is most ‘breathable,’ but ranges could shrink with climate change

New research shows that a wide variety of marine animals — from vertebrates to crustaceans to mollusks — already inhabit the maximum range of breathable ocean that their physiology will allow. The findings provide a warning about climate change: Since warmer waters will harbor less oxygen, some stretches of ocean that are breathable today for a given species may not be in the future.


September 3, 2020

Fighting fire with fire in the Methow Valley

Agencies that are well practiced in putting out wildfires are now learning a new skill: how to set the spark and fan the flames. That’s the case for the state Department of Natural Resources, which is starting to use prescribed burning as part of its strategy for fighting wildfires.


August 20, 2020

February lockdown in China caused a drop in some types of air pollution, but not others

colored maps of China

Atmospheric nitrogen dioxide, which comes from transportation, was half of what would be expected over China in February 2020. Other emissions and cloud properties, however, showed no significant changes.


August 3, 2020

New studies show how to save parasites and why it’s important

close up of a parasite

An international group of scientists has laid out an ambitious global conservation plan for parasites. A related paper led by the University of Washington found that responses of parasites to environmental change are likely to be complex, and that a changing world probably will see both outbreaks of some parasites and a total loss of other parasite species.


July 30, 2020

Deep-sea anglerfishes have evolved a new type of immune system

a female anglerfish with a male attached

Deep-sea anglerfishes employ an incredible reproductive strategy. Tiny dwarfed males become permanently attached to relatively gigantic females, fuse their tissues and then establish a common blood circulation. Now scientists have figured out why female anglerfishes so readily accept their male mates. Their findings are published July 30 in Science.


July 29, 2020

Expert FAQ: Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest during the COVID-19 pandemic

forest on fire

The University of Washington has a long history of leading research into the impacts of wildfires from an ecological and health perspective. We worked with two experts to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, including the ways that the pandemic is increasing our community’s vulnerability to extreme wildfire events in the region.


July 27, 2020

Pristine air over Southern Ocean suggests early industrial era’s clouds not so different from today’s

southern ocean clouds seen from an aircraft

A new study led by the University of Washington and the University of Leeds uses satellite data over the Southern Hemisphere to understand the makeup of global clouds since the Industrial Revolution. This research tackles one of the largest uncertainties in today’s climate models — the long-term effect of tiny atmospheric particles on climate change.


July 16, 2020

7 University of Washington researchers elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2020

Seven scientists and engineers at the University of Washington have been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences, according to an announcement July 15 by the academy.


Faculty/staff honors: ‘Architect’ magazine award, national society president-elect, library research honor — and runner-up for a national award for young scientists

A photo from the video installation "The Age of the Kampuchea Picture" at UW Libraries. 2017.

Recent honors to University of Washington faculty and staff have come from Architect magazine, the Center for Research Libraries, member states of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the American Society of Human Genetics.


June 30, 2020

UW EarthLab and The Nippon Foundation launch Ocean Nexus Center

image of people fishing

The University of Washington and The Nippon Foundation today announced the launch of the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus Center, an interdisciplinary research group at the UW that studies changes, responses and solutions to societal issues that emerge in relationship with the oceans. The Center will bring uncompromised, critical voices to policy and public conversations to enable research and studies equaling $32.5 million spread over 10 years.


June 24, 2020

Puget Sound eelgrass beds create a ‘halo’ with fewer harmful algae, new method shows

gray skies and ocean

Genetic clues show that eelgrass growing underwater along Puget Sound shorelines is associated with fewer of the single-celled algae that produce harmful toxins in shellfish. The evidence shows this effect extends 45 feet beyond the edge of the eelgrass bed.


June 16, 2020

UW reinvents summer research, internships during COVID-19

Woman standing against outside of law school building

The COVID-19 Clearinghouse at UW Law is just one of the ways that faculty and staff across the university have revamped summer research internships and worked with outside partners and employers to involve students in a remote working environment, even for jobs that would normally be out in the field.


June 9, 2020

Volcanic activity and changes in Earth’s mantle were key to rise of atmospheric oxygen

layered brown rock

Evidence from rocks billions of years old suggest that volcanoes played a key role in the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere of the early Earth.


May 28, 2020

The most common organism in the oceans harbors a virus in its DNA

grey oval with orange circles attached

A new study in Nature Microbiology shows that the most common organism in the world’s oceans — and possibly the whole planet — harbors a virus in its DNA. This virus may have helped it survive and outcompete other organisms. The study began as a UW School of Oceanography senior thesis.


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

ArtSci Roundup: Faculty recital: Sæunn Thorsteinsdóttir, ‘Developing Capacity Through Collaborative Action,’ and more

During this time of uncertainty and isolation, find solace in digital opportunities to connect, share, and engage. Each week, we will share upcoming events that bring the UW, and the greater community, together online.  Many of these online opportunities are streamed through Zoom. All UW faculty, staff, and students have access to Zoom Pro via UW-IT.  Faculty…


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 6, 2020

Faculty/staff honors: Distinguished contributions to Asian studies, social equity award, Swedish physical geography honor, new Cascade Public Media director

Recent honors to University of Washington faculty and staff have come from the Association of Asian Studies, the American Society of Public Administration, the Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography and Cascade Public Media.


May 4, 2020

John Marzluff explores how farming, food production and wildlife can coexist in new book ‘In Search of Meadowlarks’

bird on a post

Farming and food production can be made more compatible with bird and wildlife conservation, says UW ornithologist John Marzluff in his latest book, “In Search of Meadowlarks: Birds, Farms, and Food in Harmony with the Land”


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 24, 2020

Faculty/staff honors: Education research, Salish Sea Prize, Association for Psychological Science award

The European green crab

Recent honors to UW faculty and staff have come from the American Education Research Association, the Association for Psychological Science and the SeaDoc Society.


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.


‘Hands-on’ classes online? How some instructors are adapting to a new teaching environment

A postal service box with lab materials inside

When the UW announced it was moving its spring quarter 2020 classes entirely online to combat the novel coronavirus, instructors across campus faced a new, uncharted challenge.


April 8, 2020

ArtSci Roundup: Lecture with IVA Professor Whitney Lynn, In Plain Sight Screening, Childhood Bilingualism Talk, and more

collage of various art works and portraits

During this time of uncertainty and isolation, find solace in digital opportunities to connect, share, and engage. Each week, we will share upcoming events that bring the UW, and greater community, together online.  Many of these online opportunities are streamed through Zoom. All UW faculty, staff, and students have access to Zoom Pro via UW-IT.  Earth Day…


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.


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.



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