News & Blog


New species relationships and interactions due to climate change

A new study led by doctoral student Elli Theobald, doctoral student Ian Breckheimer and biology professor Janneke Hille Ris Lambers help to uncover what subalpine communities may look like by the end of this century. Over the course of a few summers, the researchers studied the flowering patterns among the alpine species. They noted that the anomalous conditions of the 2015 suggested that new patterns of reassembled wildflower communities will occur, with unknown ecological consequences. However, there is not enough information to know who the "winners" and "losers" of reassembly will be, or even what "winning" or "losing" in this scenario would look like.

Read More at ESA

Mountain glacier change from space

David Shean, a soon-to-be assistant professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering, has developed a new way of measuring mountain glacier change. Shean uses high-resolution satellite images to track elevation changes on local mountain glacier regions. His hope is to integrate the observations of glaciers with climate models and ask, "based on what we know now, where are these systems headed?". This prediction could be used to better manage water supplies and flood risks in a warmer world.  

Read More at UW News

PCC Director Cecilia Bitz helps explain Antarctica's massive polyna

A polyna is an area of open water in sea-ice. Polynas are special because they are formed by either warm oceanic upwelling beneath sea-ice or strong katabatic winds from above—or both. Polynas give scientists a view into the processes underneath sea-ice. This specific polyna is the size of Maine and has not been seen since the 1970s. Bitz ("Dr. Sea Ice"), was interviewed by Bustle to help explain this odd event and what it means for sea-ice research.

Read More at Bustle

Things I learned from leading the PCC

The 2017 Program on Climate Change Summer Institute on “Population Health and Climate Change” that took place at the beautiful UW Friday Harbor Laboratory last week gave me the opportunity to reflect on my tenure as Director of the Program on Climate Change that started in fall 2011. In fall of 2010 at the beginning of my last sabbatical, I joined an effort to build collaborations between the newly formed College of the Environment and the also young Department of Global Health to focus on global environmental change and human health. 

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Former PCC member, Mark Zelinka, tries to clear the cloud-feedback problem

In a recent paper in Nature Climate Change, Mark Zelinka (former PCC member) adds to the discussion of the cloud-feedback problem. Zelinka proposes that the cloud feedback is likely positive rather than negative. Zelinka states that our understanding of the uncertainty "in cloud feedback is a dominant cause of uncertainty in projections of global warming and hence more societal relevant aspects of climate, such as sea-level rise and changes in precipitation, continued progress is necessary".

Read more at Nature Climate Change

Distorted news and scientific studies

Abby Swann, an assistant professor of atmospheric sciences and biology at the University of Washington, recently talked to Earth & Space Science News (EOS) about the rise in disinformation of scientific results. A study she conducted in 2016 about modeling found that forest loss in the southwestern United States and the Amazon could actually cause trees to grow faster in the southeastern United States and eastern South America. Ready to combat articles that were going to skew the results, Swann armed herself with talking points on non-climate-related benefits of trees. As of right now, only one right-wing newspaper in Australia has written a misleading article about her work.

Read More at EOS

Abby Swann seeks to explain the importance of land-atmosphere interactions through a brand-new course

A brand-new course called “ATM S 493: Ecological Climatology” is being offered this Autumn quarter. Abby Swann, an assistant professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and Department of Biology will be teaching the course. Her research focuses in on global scale interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and atmospheric circulation. Not surprisingly, the course will investigate the connection between ecosystems and climate including physical, chemical, and biological interactions. 

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Greg Johnson, of NOAA's PMEL, will lead massive Deep ARGO project

Greg Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle received a $4 million grant from Paul G. Allen Philanthropies to deploy the first large-scale array of the new sensors, called Deep Argo floats. Johnson states that “understanding ocean temperatures is vital to understanding climate and climate change. Since 1970, the oceans have absorbed more than 90 percent of the excess heat from greenhouse warming”. 

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Becoming a Scientist 4.0

By Michelle Tigchelaar & Johanna Goldman As the District of Columbia was preparing itself to watch the James Comey hearing the way soccer fans watch World Cup matches — in a bar at 10am — we were huddled together in a building just blocks away from the center of action, preparing ourselves instead for Day 4 of the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium.   

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