UW News

Department of Earth and Space Sciences


July 30, 2021

A visit to Mt. Baker’s Easton Glacier

Two students are on a rocky with hiking poles and a glacier in the background.

This week, a few members of our UW News team joined glaciologists from the UW Department of Earth & Space Sciences on a trip to Mt. Baker. Students that came along got to chat with their professor on the hike up, and we learned about how the recent heat wave impacted the snow melt on the ice.


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.


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.


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.


April 28, 2021

UW launches GeoHazards Initiative; names Paros Chair in Seismology and GeoHazards

aerial view

Leveraging the tectonic laboratory of the Cascadia subduction zone, the University of Washington today announced a new effort to best understand how to study and live with the threats of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos, landslides and other seismic hazards. Dubbed the GeoHazards Initiative, the interdisciplinary work aims to develop and promote the adoption of early detection systems both on land and at sea to help prevent the loss of human life and property.


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.


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.


February 17, 2021

Q&A: ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system arriving in Pacific Northwest

scientists in orange suits with mountains in distance

After years in development, an earthquake early warning system known as ShakeAlert is on the cusp of being released in Oregon and Washington. Harold Tobin, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, answers questions about the coming rollout.


February 4, 2021

Global warming found to be culprit for flood risk in Peruvian Andes, other glacial lakes

rooftops in front of glacier

Human-caused warming is responsible for increasing the risk of a glacial outburst flood from Peru’s Lake Palcacocha, threatening the city below. This study is the first to directly link climate change with the risk of flooding from glacial lakes, which are growing in number and size worldwide.


December 8, 2020

NSF-funded deep ice core to be drilled at Hercules Dome, Antarctica

closeup of ice in metal barrel

Antarctica’s next deep ice core, a 1.5-mile core reaching back to 130,000-year-old ice, will be carried out by a multi-institutional U.S. team led by UW’s Eric Steig. The site hundreds of miles from today’s coastline could provide clues to the most recent collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.


November 3, 2020

ArtSci Roundup: Global Challenges Discussion, Katz Lecture: Abderrahmane Sissako, 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.  Lessons…


October 29, 2020

UW Space Policy and Research Center brings researchers, policymakers together for online symposium Nov. 6

A preview of the Nov. 6 SPARC Symposium, which will feature a conversation with Andy Weir, author of “The Martian.”


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 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…


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.


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 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.


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 23, 2020

ArtSci Roundup: Labor On-line: A Virtual Seminar Series, The Henry’s Re/Frame moves online, and more

collage of art 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.  Film Screening:…


April 16, 2020

‘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 1, 2020

UW-created podcasts: ‘Crossing North’ by Scandinavian Studies — also College of Education, Information School’s Joe Janes, a discussion of soil health

Logo for podcast "Crossng North," by UW Dept of Scandinavian Studies

UW Notebook visits with the producer of “Crossing North,” a podcast by the Scandinavian Studies Department, and notes other podcasts on campus and an appearance by David Montgomery on the podcast “Undark.”


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.


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.


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 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 12, 2019

Video: 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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


May 30, 2019

Seismologists seek space on volunteers’ floors and lawns to study Seattle seismic risks

Seattle map shaded brown

A series of seismic experiments will take place this summer in the Seattle area. The researchers are looking for volunteer sites throughout the region.


April 15, 2019

Historic logging site shows first human-caused bedrock erosion along an entire river

orange trees by riverbank

Over many years, a University of Washington team has shown how logging on the Teanaway River in central Washington caused dramatic changes to the river channel.


March 29, 2019

North Dakota site shows wreckage from same object that killed the dinosaurs

cartoon of waves and animal images

A new excavation site in North Dakota shows evidence from the day a giant meteor struck Earth, marking the beginning of the end for the dinosaurs and 75 percent of animal life.


January 30, 2019

UW-based group launches national challenge to recreate first moon landing — with drones and Lego robots

robot with lunar lander

A UW-based group is launching a national student challenge to mark the 50th anniversary of the historic Apollo moon landing.



Next page