‘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.

What climate change means for federally protected marine species

December 10, 2013

As the Endangered Species Act nears its 40th birthday at the end of December, conservation biologists are coming to terms with a danger not foreseen in the early 1970s: global climate change.

Federal fisheries scientists have published a special section in this month’s issue of Conservation Biology that outlines some considerations for coming decades. A University of Washington climate scientist helped biologists determine the long-term forecast for aquatic animals.

UW researchers mapping changes in glacier ice

November 25, 2013

University of Washington researchers are working with NASA to create digital maps of glaciers in Greenland.

For the first time this November, an airplane was able to take measurements during the fall to document any changes, according to UW researcher Ben Smith. Typically, the data is collected during the summer.

The information will be turned over to a team of UW researchers. Smith said their previous maps indicate that Greenland’s glaciers are shrinking.

More wildfires, earlier snowmelt, coastal threats top Northwest climate risks

November 4, 2013

The Pacific Northwest will face increased risks from declining forest health, earlier snowmelt and an array of coastal issues, according to a new comprehensive report on what climate change means for Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

Amy Snover, director of the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group, was one of three editors of the 270-page report published this week by Island Press.

Peak Oil May Keep Catastrophic Climate Change in Check

October 29, 2013

Even as governments worldwide have largely failed to limit emissions of global warming gases, the decline of fossil fuel production may reduce those emissions significantly, experts said yesterday during a panel discussion at the Geological Society of America meeting.

Conventional production of oil has been on a plateau since 2005, said James Murray, a professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, who chaired the panel.

McGinn and Sawant discuss climate change at UW forum

October 30, 2013

Climate change was the core topic of conversation on Wednesday night when Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and City Council candidate Kshama Sawant spoke to students in Miller Hall. Councilmember Mike O’Brien also made a short appearance.

Divest UW and Confronting Climate Change, co-sponsors of the event, endorse both candidates and sought their support for their five-part climate change initiative, which they recently proposed to the Board of Regents in October.