Got milk? Climate change means stressed cows in southern U.S. may have less

July 11, 2012

“Cows are happy in parts of Northern California and not in Florida” is a good way to sum up the findings of new research from the University of Washington, said Yoram Bauman, best known as the “stand-up economist.”

Bauman and colleagues found that the decline in milk production due to climate change will vary across the U.S., since there are significant differences in humidity and how much the temperature swings between night and day across the country. For instance, the humidity and hot nights make the Southeast the most unfriendly place in the country for dairy cows.

 

New twist on old chemical process could boost energy efficiency

June 7, 2012

Chemical reactions on the surface of metal oxides, such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, are important for applications such as solar cells that convert the sun's energy to electricity. Now University of Washington scientists have found that a previously unappreciated aspect of those reactions could be key in developing more efficient energy systems.

Such systems could include, for example, solar cells that would produce more electricity from the sun's rays, or hydrogen fuel cells efficient enough for use in automobiles, said James Mayer, a UW chemistry professor.

Nuclear and coal-fired electrical plants vulnerable to climate change

June 4, 2012

Warmer water and reduced river flows in the United States and Europe in recent years have led to reduced production, or temporary shutdown, of several thermoelectric power plants. For instance, the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Alabama had to shut down more than once last summer because the Tennessee River's water was too warm to use it for cooling.

Increasing speed of Greenland glaciers gives new insight for rising sea level

May 3, 2012

Changes in the speed that ice travels in more than 200 outlet glaciers indicates that Greenland's contribution to rising sea level in the 21st century might be significantly less than the upper limits some scientists thought possible, a new study shows.

"So far, on average we're seeing about a 30 percent speedup in 10 years," said Twila Moon, a University of Washington doctoral student in Earth and space sciences and lead author of a paper documenting the observations published May 4 in Science.

Preserved habitat near national parks helps species conservation

January 30, 2012

National parks often are established to help preserve species native to a particular region, but it appears that some species preservation is more successful if a significant portion of land adjacent to a park also is left as natural habitat.

The Cerrado region in Brazil has been identified as the most biologically diverse savanna on Earth, and Emas National Park is an important protected area for populations of wide-ranging large mammals such as giant anteaters, jaguars and puma.