Embarking on geoengineering, then stopping, would speed up global warming

February 18, 2014

Spraying reflective particles into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight and then stopping it could exacerbate the problem of climate change, according to new research by atmospheric scientists at the University of Washington.

Carrying out geoengineering for several decades and then stopping would cause warming at a rate that will greatly exceed that expected due to global warming, according to a study published Feb. 18 in Environmental Research Letters.

Jewell Visits Mount Rainier, Discusses Climate Change At UW Roundtable

February 5, 2014

"The best classrooms are the ones without walls," said U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, standing inside a classroom at the University of Washington, her alma mater, on Tuesday.

The former CEO of Seattle-based REI spent two days at home this week, wrapping up her visit with a roundtable discussion about the president's Climate Action Plan and the local impacts of climate change.

To illustrate the need to reduce carbon pollution, Jewell visited Mount Rainier National Park and toured areas affected by climate change.

Greenland’s fastest glacier sets new speed record

February 3, 2014

The latest observations of Jakobshavn Glacier show that Greenland’s largest glacier is moving ice from land into the ocean at a speed that appears to be the fastest ever recorded.  Researchers from the University of Washington and the German Space Agency measured the speed of the glacier in 2012 and 2013. The results were published Feb. 3 in The Cryosphere, an open access journal of the European Geosciences Union.

Deaths attributed directly to climate change cast pall over penguins

January 29, 2014

Climate change is killing penguin chicks from the world’s largest colony of Magellanic penguins, not just indirectly – by depriving them of food, as has been repeatedly documented for these and other seabirds – but directly as a result of drenching rainstorms and, at other times, heat, according to new findings from the University of Washington.

Glaciers, streamflow changes are focus of new Columbia River study

January 15, 2014

The Columbia River is perhaps the most intricate, complex river system in North America. Its diverse landscape crosses international borders and runs through subarctic, desert and sea-level ecosystems. Surrounding communities rely on the river for fishing, agriculture, transportation and electrical power.

As the Earth warms, experts know the Columbia will change – they just don’t know how much or when.

Ecovillages, Ecodistricts and Climate Change

January 9, 2014

Karen Litfin, a University of Washington professor of political science, spent a year traveling and researching her book, Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community. Litfin, along with Deni Ruggeri of the UO’s landscape architecture program and Anita Van Asperdt, a local landscape architect, will be discussing “Ecovillages and Ecodistricts: Solutions for Climate Change” at the UO Jan. 13.

‘Future of Ice’ initiative marks new era for UW polar research

January 6, 2014

The Northwest has long been a hub for Alaska-bound fishing vessels and scientific study of the Arctic.

The University of Washington’s new “Future of Ice” initiative seeks to build on that research in a region now undergoing rapid changes. The initiative includes several new hires, a new minor in Arctic studies and a winter lecture series.

El Niño tied to melting of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier

January 2, 2014

Pine Island Glacier is one of the biggest routes for ice to flow from Antarctica into the sea. The floating ice shelf at the glacier’s tip has been melting and thinning for the past four decades, causing the glacier to speed up and discharge more ice.

Understanding this ice shelf is a key for predicting sea-level rise in a warming world. A paper published Jan. 2 in the advance online version of the journal Science shows that the ice shelf melting depends on the local wind direction, which is tied to tropical changes associated with El Niño.

Hack the planet? Geoengineering research, ethics, governance explored

December 17, 2013

Hacking the Earth’s climate to counteract global warming – a subject that elicits strong reactions from both sides – is the topic of a December special issue of the journal Climatic Change. A dozen research papers include the most detailed description yet of the proposed Oxford Principles to govern geoengineering research, as well as surveys on the technical hurdles, ethics and regulatory issues related to deliberately manipulating the planet’s climate.