Breaking deep-sea waves reveal mechanism for global ocean mixing

September 9, 2013

Waves breaking over sandy beaches are captured in countless tourist photos. But enormous waves breaking deep in the ocean are seldom seen, although they play a crucial role in long-term climate cycles.

A University of Washington study for the first time recorded such a wave breaking in a key bottleneck for circulation in the world’s largest ocean. The study was published online this month in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Earth orbit changes were key to Antarctic warming that ended last ice age

August 14, 2013

For more than a century scientists have known that Earth’s ice ages are caused by the wobbling of the planet’s orbit, which changes its orientation to the sun and affects the amount of sunlight reaching higher latitudes, particularly the polar regions.

The Northern Hemisphere’s last ice age ended about 20,000 years ago, and most evidence has indicated that the ice age in the Southern Hemisphere ended about 2,000 years later, suggesting that the south was responding to warming in the north.

Ocean acidification center another example of state leading the nation

August 8, 2013

Washington’s governor and state legislators in the last session created a hub at the University of Washington to coordinate research and monitoring of ocean acidification and its effects on local sea life such as oysters, clams and fish.

Based on what’s learned, the center will marshal efforts to improve the ability to forecast when and where corrosive waters might occur and suggest adaptive strategies to mitigate the effects.

Scientists review the ecological effects of sea ice loss

August 1, 2013

The Arctic Ocean has more open water each summer, a trend most scientists predict will continue in coming years. September 2012 set the record for the most open water since satellite observations began.

A University of Washington researcher is co-author on a review paper published this week (Aug. 2) in the journal Science looking at the ecological consequences of sea ice decline.

Santa’s workshop not flooded – but lots of melting in the Arctic

July 30, 2013

Santa’s workshop at the North Pole is not under water, despite recent reports. A dramatic image captured by a University of Washington monitoring buoy reportedly shows a lake at the North Pole. But Santa doesn’t yet need to buy a snorkel.

“Every summer when the sun melts the surface the water has to go someplace, so it accumulates in these ponds,” said Jamie Morison, a polar scientist at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory and principal investigator since 2000 of the North Pole Environmental Observatory. “This doesn’t look particularly extreme.”

Discussion over fossil fuel divestment heats up

July 2, 2013

As the effort to get universities to stop investing in the top 200 oil, gas, and coal companies continues, a group of undergraduate and graduate students are spearheading the movement at the UW.

Divest UW joined a movement that has spread to more than 300 colleges and universities in the United States, urging educational institutions to freeze any new investment in fossil fuel companies and to divest from current holdings.

Currently, the UW has an endowment of about $2.2 billion, of which about 2 percent,  goes into the fossil fuel industry.

UW Students Seek End of Fossil Fuel Investments

May 20, 2013

Students at the University of Washington want the school to dump its investments in major fossil fuel companies like Exxon and BP as part of a nationwide campaign to combat climate change through public institutions.

The University of Washington prides itself on being a green campus, but Kyle Murphy thinks they should have a green portfolio too. Murphy is one of the founders of UW Divest, the student group proposing a change to the way the UW Endowment Fund invests its money.