58 posts in Weather & Climate

Sep 10, 2017 / Weather & Climate

Ship exhaust makes oceanic thunderstorms more intense

Thunderstorms directly above two of the world’s busiest shipping lanes are significantly more powerful than storms in areas of the ocean where ships don’t travel, according to new research.
A new study mapping lightning around the globe finds lightning strokes occur nearly twice as often directly above heavily-trafficked shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea than they do in areas of the ocean adjacent to shipping lanes that have similar climates. 
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Aug 31, 2017 / Weather & Climate

Q&A: How Idaho, Montana, North Dakota and Yellowstone National Park are confronting climate change

The Northern Rocky Mountain ecosystem includes huge swaths of federal lands, two national parks and some of the most spectacular wild spaces in the country. University of Washington researchers are helping managers of those lands prepare for a shifting climate.
“Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems,” a book published in August, was edited by Jessica Halofsky, a UW research ecologist in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, and David Peterson, a senior research biologist with the U.S. 
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Aug 31, 2017 / Weather & Climate

Record-low 2016 Antarctic sea ice due to ‘perfect storm’ of tropical, polar conditions

While winter sea ice in the Arctic is declining so dramatically that ships can now navigate those waters without any icebreaker escort, the scene in the Southern Hemisphere is much different. Sea ice around Antarctica has actually increased slightly during winter — until last year.
About a year ago, a dramatic drop in Antarctic sea ice during spring in the Southern Hemisphere brought its maximum area to its lowest level in 40 years of record keeping. 
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Jul 30, 2017 / Weather & Climate

Earth likely to warm more than 2 degrees this century

Warming of the planet by 2 degrees Celsius is often seen as a “tipping point” that people should try to avoid by limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
But the Earth is very likely to exceed that change, according to new University of Washington research. A study from lead-author and Professor of Statistics and Sociology Adrian Raftery and Associate Professor of Atmospheric Sciences Dargan Frierson uses statistical tools to show only a 5 percent chance that Earth will warm 2 degrees or less by the end of this century. 
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Researchers find more efficient way to make oil from dead trees

The mountain pine beetle has destroyed more than 40 million acres of forest in the western United States — an area roughly the size of Washington state.
The beetles introduce a fungus that prevents water and critical nutrients from traveling within a tree. They also lay eggs under the conifers’ bark, and their feeding larvae help kill trees — sometimes just weeks after the initial attack. 
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‘Black swan’ events strike animal populations

Black swan events are rare and surprising occurrences that happen without notice and often wreak havoc on society. The metaphor has been used to describe banking collapses, devastating earthquakes and other major surprises in financial, social and natural systems.
A new analysis by the University of Washington and Simon Fraser University is the first to document that black swan events also occur in animal populations and usually manifest as massive, unexpected die-offs. 
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UW’s Kristin Laidre awarded Pew marine fellowship to study effects of climate change, subsistence hunting on polar bears

Polar bears depend on sea ice for essential tasks like hunting and breeding. As Arctic sea ice disappears due to climate change, bears across the species’ 19 subpopulations are feeling the strain.
But even as scientists try to quantify just how much melting sea ice is affecting polar bears, another group that depends on the iconic mammal for subsistence also is at risk of losing an important nutritional and economic resource. 
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‘The blob’ of abnormal conditions boosted Western U.S. ozone levels

An unusually warm patch of seawater off the West Coast in late 2014 and 2015, nicknamed “the blob,” had cascading effects up and down the coast. Its sphere of influence was centered on the marine environment but extended to weather on land.
A University of Washington Bothell study now shows that this strong offshore pattern also influenced air quality. The climate pattern increased ozone levels above Washington, Oregon, western Utah and northern California, according to a study published Feb. 
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Jan 19, 2017 / Weather & Climate

Listen to the Earth smash another global temperature record

Federal science agencies announced Wednesday that 2016 was the warmest year on record, beating the previous global temperature record set in 2015, which itself had beat the previous record set in 2014. Now atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington have set the new temperature record to an electronic dance beat.

This is their second project to convert scientific data to an audio track, a process known as sonification. 

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Dec 12, 2016 / Weather & Climate

Mountain glaciers are showing some of the strongest responses to climate change

A new study analyzing 37 glaciers around the world shows that because of their decades-long response times, glaciers are among the purest signals of human-driven climate change.
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