Study resolves controversy over nitrogen's ocean 'exit strategies'

April 11, 2014

A decades-long debate over how nitrogen is removed from the ocean may now be settled by new findings from researchers at Princeton University and their collaborators at the University of Washington.

The debate centers on how nitrogen—one of the most important food sources for ocean life and a controller of atmospheric carbon dioxide—becomes converted to a form that can exit the ocean and return to the atmosphere where it is reused in the global nitrogen cycle.

Deserts Play Crucial Role in Lessening the Impact of Global Warming

April 7, 2014

Deserts may have a big hand in lessening impact of global warming in the atmosphere, said researchers from University of Washington. The research team believes that 'dry areas filled with scrubby vegetation and sand' are absorbing excess of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Global warming is caused by increase in levels of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other harmful gases in atmosphere. In a 10-year study, researchers measured levels of carbon dioxide absorbed by soil and plants in the California Mojave Desert.

Seasonal Arctic summer ice extent still hard to forecast, study says

March 27, 2014

Scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre (NSIDC), University College London, University of New Hampshire and University of Washington analysed 300 summer Arctic sea ice forecasts from 2008 to 2013 and found that forecasts are quite accurate when sea ice conditions are close to the downward trend that has been observed in Arctic sea ice for the last 30 years. However, forecasts are not so accurate when sea ice conditions are unusually higher or lower compared to this trend.

Decline of natural history troubling for science, society

March 26, 2014

Support for natural history – the study of organisms, how and where they live and how they interact with their environment – appears to be in steep decline in developed countries, according to Joshua Tewksbury, a University of Washington professor and WWF International scientist.

“Yet natural history provides essential knowledge for fields as varied as human health, food security, conservation, land management and recreation,” he said.

UW prof discovers the cutting edge in green living

March 19, 2014

In a world of dwindling natural resources and mounting environmental crisis, who is devising ways of living that will work for the long haul? And how can we, as individuals, make a difference?

To answer these questions, Professor Karen Litfin embarked upon a journey to many of the world’s ecovillages – intentional communities at the cutting-edge of sustainable living. From Los Angeles to South India and Denmark to Senegal, she discovered an under-the-radar global movement making positive and radical changes from the ground up.

The misplaced emphasis on extreme weather in environmental threat communication

March 14, 2014

Environmental advocates have a compelling story to tell, but it has been hard to get people to listen. The advocates argue that the ever increasing burden of human activities— reflected in rising world population, coupled with rising per capita GDP— is taking an increasingly heavy toll on the global environment.

Confronting the exploitation of extreme weather events in global warming reporting

February 28, 2014

Extreme weather events remind us of our vulnerability to the truly awesome forces of nature. They reveal the weaknesses in our societal infrastructure.  Sometimes they provide valuable insights into the workings of the climate system. But the debate about whether this winter’s cold weather over the central and eastern U.S. is due to global warming has become a stumbling block in our public discourse on human induced climate change.

Innovative mushroom farming in Vietnam wins the day at University of Washington social entrepreneurship competition

March 3, 2014

Fargreen, a social enterprise using technology to convert rice straw waste into a product that can be used for mushroom farming, edged out five other finalist teams to win the grand prize of $12,500 at the University of Washington's Global Social Entrepreneurship Competition, held last week in Seattle.