Floods didn’t provide nitrogen ‘fix’ for earliest crops in frigid north

November 6, 2013

Floods didn’t make floodplains fertile during the dawn of human agriculture in the Earth’s far north because the waters were virtually devoid of nitrogen, unlike other areas of the globe scientists have studied.

Instead, the hardy Norsemen and early inhabitants of Russia and Canada have microorganisms called cyanobacteria to mostly thank for abundant grasses that attracted game to hunt and then provided fodder once cattle were domesticated. The process is still underway in the region’s pristine floodplains.

New system could predict how climate change will affect future fishing conditions

October 28, 2013

Fishermen often find themselves at the mercy of conditions that exist well outside of their control: extreme weather, temperature, breeding cycles, fuel prices, dock prices for their catch and so much more. But what if some of those conditions could be predicted not just days but months into the future? Would the fishing industry be better able to adapt?

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.

New ocean forecast could help predict fish habitat six months in advance

August 30, 2013

People are now used to long-term weather forecasts that predict what the coming winter may bring. But University of Washington researchers and federal scientists have developed the first long-term forecast of conditions that matter for Pacific Northwest fisheries.

“Being able to predict future phytoplankton blooms, ocean temperatures and low-oxygen events could help fisheries managers,” said Samantha Siedlecki, a research scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean.

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.

First responders

July 16, 2013

UW oceanography professor James Murray is currently leading a team of several UW students and researchers from Western Washington University (WWU) in conducting novel experiments at the Friday Harbor Lab in the San Juan Islands. The researchers are observing how phytoplankton react to ocean acidification, the ongoing decrease of the ocean’s pH level due to an increase of CO2 in the ocean. They discovered that currently, the ocean already contains high levels of CO2 and continues to absorb more, which makes an increasingly acidic ocean environment.

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.

Arbor Day Foundation Names University of Washington a 2012 Tree Campus USA

April 26, 2013

Recognizing excellence in campus tree management, Tree Campus USA engages both the student body and the wider community in the establishment and maintenance of community forests. Since 2010 the University of Washington has held the proud distinction of Tree Campus USA recognition.

Tree Campus USA is a national program created in 2008 to honor colleges and universities for effective campus forest management and for engaging staff and students in conservation goals. Toyota helped launch the program and continues its generous financial support this year.