UW News

oceanography


September 28, 2022

UW-developed wave sensors deployed to improve hurricane forecasts

Person drops sensor from plane

Researchers dropped technology developed at the University of Washington off the coast of Florida this week to measure ocean waves in the path of Hurricane Ian. The test is one part of a broad effort to improve forecasts for these fast-moving and deadly systems.


July 20, 2022

UW atmospheric sciences achieves No. 1 global ranking; nearly three dozen UW subjects in top 50

person stands in front of bright green wall

Eight University of Washington subjects ranked in the top 10 and Atmospheric Sciences moved to its position as No. 1 in the world on the Global Ranking of Academic Subjects list for 2022. The ranking, released Tuesday, was conducted by researchers at the ShanghaiRanking Consultancy, a fully independent organization dedicating to research on higher education intelligence and consultation.


April 28, 2022

Unchecked global emissions on track to initiate mass extinction of marine life

If emissions from greenhouse gases continue, species losses from warming and oxygen depletion of ocean waters could eclipse all other human stressors on marine species by around 2100. Tropical waters would experience the greatest loss of biodiversity, while polar species are at the highest risk of extinction


March 28, 2022

Solar energy explains fast yearly retreat of Antarctica’s sea ice

Sea ice around Antarctica retreats more quickly than it advances, an asymmetry that has been a puzzle. New analysis shows that the Southern Hemisphere is following simple rules of physics, as peak midsummer sun causes rapid changes. In this respect, it seems, it’s Arctic sea ice that is more mysterious.


January 20, 2022

Shift work helps marine microbes share scarce ocean resources

ship surrounded by ocean

With a low supply of and high competition for key nutrients, scientists have puzzled over the vast diversity of microbial species found in the open ocean. A new study shows that time of day is key, with species of marine microbes specializing in different shifts throughout the day and night.


January 19, 2022

Bubbles of methane rising from seafloor in Puget Sound

map of bubble locations

The release of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas responsible for almost a quarter of global warming, is being studied around the world, from Arctic wetlands to livestock feedlots. A University of Washington team has discovered a source much closer to home: 349 plumes of methane gas bubbling up from the seafloor in Puget Sound, which holds more water than any other U.S. estuary.


October 29, 2021

UW oceanographer will study how glacial particles remove CO2 from atmosphere

white glacier with ocean in foreground

An oceanographer at the University of Washington is part of a new project to study how glacial dust, created as glaciers grind the rock beneath them into a powder, reacts with seawater to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.


October 28, 2021

How Dungeness crabs’ complex lifecycle will be affected by climate change

Dungeness crab

Results show that by the end of this century, lower-oxygen water on the Pacific Northwest coast will pose the biggest threat to Dungeness crabs. And while these crabs start as tiny, free-floating larvae, it’s the sharp-clawed adults that will be most vulnerable.


September 29, 2021

UW oceanographer Parker MacCready elected fellow of the AGU

portrait with gray background

University of Washington oceanographer Parker MacCready is one of 59 new fellows elected this year by the American Geophysical Union.


July 8, 2021

Remotely-piloted sailboats monitor ‘cold pools’ in tropical environments

red sailboat on blue ocean

A UW-led study uses data from remotely-piloted sailboats to better understand cold air pools — pockets of cooler air that form when rain evaporates below tropical storm clouds. These fleeting weather phenomena are thought to influence tropical weather patterns.


June 9, 2021

Endangered blue whales recorded off southwest coast of India

diver in water

Endangered blue whales are present and singing off the southwest coast of India. The results provide insight into a poorly studied population and suggest conservation measures should include this region.


February 24, 2021

Record-high Arctic freshwater will flow through Canadian waters, affecting marine environment and Atlantic ocean currents

Colored map of the North Atlantic and Arctic

The Arctic Ocean’s Beaufort Sea has increased its freshwater content by 40% over the past two decades. When conditions change this freshwater will travel to the Labrador Sea off Canada, rather than through the wider marine passageways that connect to seas in Northern Europe. This has implications for local marine environments and global ocean circulation.


February 1, 2021

Marine organisms use previously undiscovered receptors to detect, respond to light

magnified cells of various shapes arranged in a mosaic

Single-celled organisms in the open ocean use a diverse array of genetic tools to detect sunlight, even in tiny amounts, and respond. The discovery of these new genetic “light switches” could also aid in the field of optogenetics, in which a cell’s function can be controlled with light exposure.


December 9, 2020

Warm oceans helped first human migration from Asia to North America

colored map of North Pacific

New research reveals significant changes to the circulation of the North Pacific and its impact on the initial migration of humans from Asia to North America. It provides a new picture of the circulation and climate of the North Pacific at the end of the last ice age, with implications for early human migration.


October 29, 2020

UW awarded $23.5M to build floating robots as part of NSF project to monitor the world’s oceans

two people drop instrument in water

The University of Washington is among leading U.S. oceanographic institutions that have received National Science Foundation funding to build and deploy 500 robotic ocean-monitoring floats to monitor the chemistry and biology of the world’s oceans.


September 16, 2020

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.


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 15, 2020

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.


February 27, 2020

Video: Warming Arctic means less ice, bigger waves

ship surrounded by ice

Throughout the month of November 2019, a team of University of Washington researchers chased storms in the Arctic Ocean. The project, Coastal Ocean Dynamics in the Arctic, or CODA, is looking at how water currents shift and waves hit the coast with more open water, to provide better forecasts and predictions for the region’s future.


January 16, 2020

Mobile protected areas needed to preserve biodiversity in the high seas

black bird with blue sky

Leaders are updating the laws for international waters that apply to most of the world’s ocean environment. This provides a unique opportunity, argues a UW Bothell marine scientist, to anticipate new techniques that allow protected zones to shift as species move under climate change.


November 5, 2019

Fall storms, coastal erosion focus of northern Alaska research cruise

freight shipping container in foreground and research ship in background

A University of Washington team is leaving to study how fall storms, dwindling sea ice and vulnerable coastlines might combine in a changing Arctic.


September 10, 2019

Tides don’t always flush water out to sea, study shows

Dawn in Willapa Bay in 2015, showing oysters on a tidal flat.

Researchers at the University of Washington and the University of Strathclyde report that, in Willapa Bay in Washington state, the water washing over the tidal flats during high tides is largely the same water that washed over the flats during the previous high tide. This “old” water has not been mixed in with “new” water from deeper parts of the bay or the open Pacific Ocean, and has different chemical and biological properties, such as lower levels of food for creatures within the tide flats.


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 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 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.


June 10, 2019

Mysterious holes in Antarctic sea ice explained by years of robotic data

map of white ice with dark hole

Why did a giant hole appear in the sea ice off Antarctica in 2016 and 2017, after decades of more typical sea ice cover? Years of Southern Ocean data have explained the phenomenon, helping oceanographers to better predict these features and study their role in global ocean cycles.


May 1, 2019

Arsenic-breathing life discovered in the tropical Pacific Ocean

people working on deck of boat

In oxygen-poor parts of the ocean, some microorganisms survive by breathing arsenic. This holdover from the ancient Earth was not thought to still exist in the open ocean.


March 21, 2019

Hundreds of bubble streams link biology, seismology off Washington’s coast

map with red stars

The first survey of methane vent sites off Washington’s coast finds 1,778 bubble columns, with most located along a north-south band that is in line with a geologic fault.


February 8, 2019

‘Underwater forecast’ predicts temperature, acidity and more in Puget Sound

colored cross-section of Puget Sound

A new University of Washington computer model can predict underwater conditions in Puget Sound and off the coast of Washington three days into the future.


January 23, 2019

One year into the mission, autonomous ocean robots set a record in survey of Antarctic ice shelf

yellow instrument with ice in background

A team of ocean robots developed at the UW is the first group of self-guided ocean instruments to travel under an ice sheet and come back to report long-term observations.


January 14, 2019

UW, partners reach milestone in program using robots to monitor world’s oceans

researchers in lab

The UW is part of an international program that has revolutionized ocean measurements. This fall, the program made its 2 millionth measurement, reporting temperature and salinity in the top mile of the world’s oceans.


November 2, 2018

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

UW oceanographer Jody Deming is a leader of a new, interdisciplinary effort that addresses the theme of “ocean memory.”


October 12, 2018

New UW-authored children’s book offers a robot’s-eye view of the deep ocean

Book cover showing cartoon robot in ocean

In a new UW-authored book, a cartoon robot takes young readers on a School of Oceanography voyage to explore the deep ocean.


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.


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 18, 2018

Atlantic Ocean circulation is not collapsing – but as it shifts gears, global warming will reaccelerate

Depiction of Atlantic circulation with red arrows pointing north and blue arrows pointing south.

New research suggests the Atlantic Ocean is transitioning back to its slower phase, which means average global air temperatures will go back to rising more quickly.


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 18, 2018

Great white sharks dive deep into warm-water whirlpools in the Atlantic

tag on shark fin

Tracking of two great white sharks reveals for the first time that in the open ocean they spend more time deep inside warm-water eddies.


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.



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