Getting dirty to save orcas

May 1, 2013

To try to save the environment, UW conservation scientists made use of one key ingredient in their research: poop.

By examining whale excrement found between Washington state mainland and San Juan Islands, researchers in UW’s Center for Conservation Biology (CCB) have found that the population of killer whales living in the area are declining. To find the fecal matter, researchers use specially trained dogs from Conservation Canine (CK9), the CCB’s program that trains dogs to find animal scat for research samples.

Coal trains fire up UW chemist

May 7, 2013

Dan Jaffe says he didn’t set out intending to go all rogue with his science.

“What happened is I was getting discouraged,” he says. “I was starting to wonder whether anyone would even be allowed to ask these basic questions. So I went outside the system.”

Jaffe is no anarchist, but an atmospheric chemist at the University of Washington.

For 20-plus years he’s followed the conventional path for doing science in this country, which is to apply for grants from the government or corporate-backed groups.

UW helps lead the way for the next generation of oceanography

April 30, 2013

Information streams live from sensors two miles below the ocean surface, gathering data for years at a time and providing a video stream accessible to anyone with an Internet connection.

After making do with battery-powered sensors that would need to be retrieved before their data could be accessed, engineers at the UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory are working to make these groundbreaking live-sensor oceanography tools a reality through the world’s largest underwater observatory off the Washington coast.

UW researchers conduct ocean acidification experiment

April 29, 2013

The world’s oceans are always changing, and with ocean acidification adding to this process, it is unclear how these changes will affect oceanic and terrestrial life.

This is what James Murray, a UW chemical oceanography professor, hopes to clarify.

Murray is working with several researchers and students at the UW marine research facility in Friday Harbor to conduct a quarter-long experiment centered on the use of mesocosms. This is the third experiment of its kind performed at Friday Harbor, which remains the only place in the United States to use this technique.

News Digest: Husky Green Awards, oceanbound on Earth Day, join Trash-in Wednesda

Husky Green Awards announced
Husky Green Awards went to seven individuals and teams, with winners announced April 19 during the kick-off event for Earth Day on the University of Washington campus.

The award, now in its fourth year, recognizes students, faculty and staff who have demonstrated leadership, initiative and dedication to environmental stewardship and sustainability. A new award this year, the Husky Green Legacy Award, went to the UPass Advisory Board.

Other winners are:

Recent Antarctic climate, glacier changes at the ‘upper bound’ of normal

In the last few decades, glaciers at the edge of the icy continent of Antarctica have been thinning, and research has shown the rate of thinning has accelerated and contributed significantly to sea level rise.

New ice core research suggests that, while the changes are dramatic, they cannot be attributed with confidence to human-caused global warming, said Eric Steig, a University of Washington professor of Earth and space sciences.

UW students create, harvest fog in campus ‘hoop house’

In the fog chamber, a thick cool mist rolls from one end to the other blurring glasses, wetting caps and coats and sending water dripping down the latest test panel.

University of Washington students have been testing low-cost materials capable of harvesting water from fog in a temporary “hoop house” next to the Botany Greenhouse. They create the fog with a specially adapted power washer and record how much water condenses and drips off various panels of low-cost materials, such as shade cloth.

UW project seeks to harvest fog for irrigation

Fog has been billowing inside a small greenhouse on the University of Washington campus for the past month, but it doesn’t arrive on little cat feet. It comes hissing out of high-pressure nozzles.

The man-made mist is part of an effort to help slum-dwellers in Peru harvest moisture from the air. With a small grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, UW students and professors are building and testing fog catchers — and hoping to reel in a bigger grant to mount a full-scale operation in Lima.