UW News

College of the Environment


November 14, 2018

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 2, 2018

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

Jody-Deming-528x528

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.


October 24, 2018

New center to recognize American Indian and Indigenous Studies

Bronze W autumn

As the discipline of American Indian Studies approaches its 50th year at the University of Washington, a new research center is in the works: the Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies, which is supported by multiple colleges and schools.


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 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

mug shot

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

Washington’s state climatologists 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.


October 1, 2018

High CO2 levels cause plants to thicken their leaves, which could worsen climate change effects, researchers say

A tree canopy in a tropical rainforest.

When levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rise, most plants do something unusual: They thicken their leaves. Now two University of Washington scientists have shown that this reaction by plants will actually worsen climate change by making the global “carbon sink” contributed by plants was less productive.


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 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 30, 2018

Climate change projected to boost insect activity and crop loss, researchers say

Image of ears of wheat

In a paper published Aug. 31 in the journal Science, a team led by scientists at the University of Washington reports that insect activity in today’s temperate, crop-growing regions will rise along with temperatures. Researchers project that this activity, in turn, will boost worldwide losses of rice, corn and wheat by 10-25 percent for each degree Celsius that global mean surface temperatures rise.


August 21, 2018

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

The Qwuloolt restoration project in 2016.

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 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 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.


June 15, 2018

Study: Undergrad research experiences make a noticeable difference

Photo by Katherine Turner. The Block W statue at the North entrance to the UW Seattle campus.

A new analysis suggests the value of structured research programs for undergraduates extends to society as a whole by encouraging participants to seek advanced degrees in scientific and technological fields.


June 14, 2018

Key ocean fish can prevail with changes to farmed fish, livestock diets

forage fish swimming

Anchovies, herring, sardines and other forage fish play an essential role in the food web as prey for seabirds, marine mammals and larger fish like salmon. When ground into fishmeal and oil, they are also a key food source for farmed seafood and land-based livestock such as pigs and poultry. As seafood consumption outpaces the…


June 11, 2018

Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

corn field in sunshine

A study of global maize production in 2100 shows dramatic increases in the variability of corn yields from one year to the next under climate change, making simultaneous low yields across multiple high-producing regions more likely, which could lead to price hikes and global shortages.


Choice matters: The environmental costs of producing meat, seafood

beef cows

A new study led by the University of Washington considers which food type is more environmentally costly to produce: livestock, farmed seafood or wild-caught fish.


June 5, 2018

Ocean warming, ‘junk-food’ prey cause of massive seabird die-off, study finds

dead cassin's auklet

A new University of Washington-led paper pinpoints starvation as the cause of death for hundreds of thousands of Cassin’s auklet seabirds in late 2014 to early 2015.


June 4, 2018

Polar scientist Kristin Laidre documents perspectives of polar bear hunters in East Greenland

photograph of subsistence hunter

Twenty-five polar bear hunters in East Greenland were interviewed before the first formal assessment of this subpopulation, one of 19 subpopulations of polar bears in a changing Arctic.


May 25, 2018

Broccoli in space: How probiotics could help grow veggies in microgravity

broccoli going to space.

Astronauts at the International Space Station are spending more time away from Earth, but they still need their daily serving of vegetables. In the quest to find a viable way for crew to grow their own veggies while orbiting — and possibly one day on the moon or Mars — student researchers are sending broccoli…


May 23, 2018

A promising target in the quest for a 1-million-year-old Antarctic ice core

yellow tent on snow

The oldest ice core so far provides 800,000 years of our planet’s climate history. A UW field survey in Antarctica has pinpointed a location where an entire million years of undisturbed ice might be preserved intact.


May 15, 2018

Forest loss in one part of US can harm trees on the opposite coast

forest with dead trees

If an entire forest dies, new research shows, it has ricocheting effects in the atmosphere that can affect vegetation on the other side of the country.


May 10, 2018

New UW vessel, RV Rachel Carson, will explore regional waters

blue and white ship

The UW School of Oceanography has a new vessel, named after marine biologist, author and conservationist Rachel Carson. It will explore Puget Sound and nearby coasts.


May 8, 2018

UW researchers will survey Antarctica’s Thwaites Glacier as part of major international effort

International Thwaites Glacier Collaboration logo

UW glaciologist Knut Christianson is part of a massive collaboration that will collect on-the-ground data about a key Antarctic glacier that shows signs it could be collapsing into the sea.


April 30, 2018

Q&A: Washington Sea Grant’s Penny Dalton a leader, mentor in ocean policy field

penny dalton phot

A Q&A with retiring Washington Sea Grant director Penny Dalton on her drive to serve the public, and the ways in which she has helped young marine policy experts get started in the field.


April 25, 2018

UW faculty selected as authors, editors of international report on climate change

IPCC 30th anniversary logo.

About twice each decade, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, looks at what is known about the science of climate change, the extent to which human activities are changing the Earth’s climate, and what risks these changes pose to human and natural systems. Organized into three working groups, each assessment is…



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