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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Jun 27, 2017 / Geology, Water, M9

Distant earthquakes can cause underwater landslides

New research finds that large earthquakes can trigger underwater landslides thousands of miles away, weeks or months after the quake occurs.
Researchers analyzing data from ocean-bottom seismometers off the Washington-Oregon coast tied a series of underwater landslides on the Cascadia Subduction Zone to a 2012 magnitude-8.6 earthquake in the Indian Ocean — more than 8,000 miles away. These underwater landslides occurred intermittently for nearly four months after the April earthquake. 
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Jun 22, 2017 / Water

Nature spotlights UW geophysicists’ fight to save lives with seafloor sensors

Inventor and entrepreneur Jerry Paros and University of Washington scientists are monitoring undersea faults for movements and signs of the next catastrophic earthquake. A recent Nature article looks at Paros, who has donated $2 million to the UW, and the collaborative project he’s working on with researchers including the School of Oceanography’s Emily Roland and William Wilcock. Over the course of his career, Paros developed an ultra-precise quartz sensor for oil, gas and other industry applications. 
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May 3, 2017 / Geology, M9

UW seismologist John Vidale elected to National Academy of Sciences

John E. Vidale, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences, is among 84 new members and 21 foreign associates elected this week as members of the National Academy of Sciences. Academy members are recognized for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, according to a news release from the academy.
Vidale studies Earth’s interior, including earthquakes and volcanoes. 
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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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Apr 10, 2017 / Geology, M9

Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, USGS and partners launch West Coast earthquake early warning system

The U.S. Geological Survey and university, public and private partners held an event April 10 at the University of Washington to introduce the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning program as a unified, West Coast-wide system. The event also introduced the first pilot uses of the earthquake early warning in Washington and Oregon.
The first Pacific Northwest pilot users of the system are Bothell, Wash.-based RH2 Engineering, which will use the alerts to secure municipal water and sewer systems so these structures remain usable after a major quake. 
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Mar 27, 2017 / Geology

Using a method from Wall Street to track slow slipping of Earth’s crust

A researcher at the College’s Department of Earth and Space Sciences is utilizing a Wall Street technique used to monitor stocks to detect slow slip earthquakes.
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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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