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17 posts in Education

PCC members help connect the dots on climate change through an influential and lasting GCeCS capstone

Studying climate change is not always about the science. The science, however, does lay the foundation for adapting to and mitigating climate change. An example of this relationship was shown no better than in a recent presentation given by a few PCC members. Judy Twedt, Michelle Tigchelaar, Miriam CaukinsAlex Lenferna, and Kate Griffith, all members of the climate caucus within the Union of Academic Student Employees at the University of Washington, talked about climate change in a worker-centric environment that sought to move beyond polarization and stereotyping to have honest dialogue. The idea was originally started by Twedt, who proposed developing a short presentation for the climate caucus on climate change and how it will impact residents of Washington state for her Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS). After the initial presentation with the climate caucus, other unions requested similar talks for their membership and staff meetings. The talks have since blossomed into a speakers bureau, picking up members from all over the university.

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Using Video to Highlight Local Climate Change in Small Alaskan Community

By Amy Brodbeck, SMEA graduate student After earning a Bachelor’s of Science in biology in 2011, I spent the next five years of my life engaging with the public in the field of environmental education and outreach. Through these experiences, I gained insight into the general public perception of different aspects of the environment. The level of interest and understanding varied, but one factor remained relatively constant—people wanted to talk about climate change. 

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PCC Grads Travel to the 11th Annual Graduate Climate Conference

December 5, 2017 by Emma Kahle This November nine UW graduate students traveled east to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in Massachusetts for the 11th annual Graduate Climate Conference  We represented five different UW departments (ESS, ATMS, BIO, CEE, SMEA) and presented talks and posters on a range of topics from a commercial fisherman App that records climate data to using weather forecasting techniques to reconstruct past changes on the Greenland ice sheet. 

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A Philosopher and a Climate Scientist Walk into a Bar (to Give a Talk on Climate Change)

November 29, 2017 How we should act on climate change is not simply a question of science, but also one of values. When discussing climate change policy, it is not enough for us to draw on the science alone, we also need to discuss the values which inform whether we should act on that science. For scientists, discussing values often feels a little outside of their realm of expertise and comfort – a grey area in terms of what a scientist’s proper role should be. 

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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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Bridging science and economics in the study of contemporary Arctic issues

by Michelle Dvorak 25 June 2017 I am a 24-year old and recent graduate from the UW School of Marine and Environmental Affairs. I came to University somewhat reluctantly, after finishing my Bachelor’s in chemistry and spending four months abroad on an extended skiing and climbing vacation. I was born and bred in the Pacific Northwest, and a big part of me lives to experience the mountains – it was difficult to return to academia with this kind of appetite for lofty adventure. 

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Stephanie Rushley summarizes her interdisciplinary fellowship research "Examination of intraseasonal coral luminescence peaks during the Mid-Holocene"

In this project, Dr. Daehyun Kim (Dept. Atmospheric Sciences) and I partnered with Dr. Julian Sachs (Dept. Oceanography) to examine a hypothesis presented by Lough et al. (2014).  The authors examined streamflow and rainfall in the current and mid-Holocene climates using coral luminescence and found that there was an increase in the number of peaks in coral luminescence, hence heavy rain events, per year during the mid-Holocene, indicating an increase in intraseasonal variability of precipitation.  In the modern climate, more than one annual peak of luminescence is rare.  Lough et al. (2014) hypothesized that the increase in intraseasonal peaks in the mid-Holocene were driven by a stronger Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO), which is the dominant source of intraseasonal precipitation variability in the tropics. This fellowship project opened many doors to me that I would have never experienced.  Through Dr. Sachs I was introduced to Dr. Janice Lough, from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, who not only shared her monthly coral data from the modern period and mid-Holocene period from three different sites in the Great Barrier Reef, but also took the time to help me understand how to correctly use the data by answering numerous questions.  For example, Dr. Lough highlighted some possible errors that can cause unrealistic trends in the coral data that are caused by decay in skeletal density.  Dr. Lough has been extremely helpful and I am very grateful to have gotten connected with her during the course of this project.  Working with experts in very different areas I found a way to connect my work with the MJO to streamflow and coral proxy which I had never worked with before and find interesting results. One of the most interesting results we found was related to the seasonal cycle of the coral luminescence.

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Applications for PCC Interdisciplinary Fellowships are available

A new graduate fellowship opportunity to begin between winter 2018 and winter 2019 is being offered to support one or more students with a clear passion for working across academic boundaries on projects grounded in climate science. The application includes a written proposal for research that is not currently defined as the students’ dissertation research, and that has the support of faculty/staff in two different units (academic departments, research units, etc.). The goal of this opportunity is to build collaboration across disciplines while addressing a proposed climate related research, communication, data driven etc. goal. We have a total of 9 months (3 quarters) of support for this opportunity, and proposals asking for 3, 6 or 9 months of support will be considered. We will also entertain proposals for joint projects that include two graduate students that are matriculated in different departments. These funds will only be awarded if the applicant(s) and the proposed project(s) and collaborations clearly meet the goals and criteria described in the announcement. The application period will end October 15, 2017 and awards to be made by December 2017. This fellowship opportunity will be made available again in 2018.

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GCeCS and Capstone Meeting: April 4 at 2:30

The Graduate Certificate in Climate Science (GCeCS) combines coursework and a capstone experience, and one important step is identifying a capstone project. To help students frame a project, and to connect with mentors/project partners, we are holding an informal gathering on April 4 from 2:30-3:30 in OCN 310. We will divide into small groups, and those interested in education will have the opportunity to learn more about our annual workshop with high school teachers. 

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Translating science into policy: the power of boiling it down

I am not the typical graduate student. Before starting graduate school, I served as a submarine officer in the Navy for seven years. While I was on active duty, I served at a command where scientists frequently briefed us on how their research would impact our work. Sitting in many of these presentations, I noticed that the scientists often spoke exclusively in technical jargon – to the extent that the military-minded decision-makers did not know what questions to ask for clarification. 

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