News & Blog

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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.

Read More at UAW

Abby Swann on Forecast: a podcast about climate science and climate change

Assistant Professor Abby Swann was recently featured on Forecast, a podcast about climate science and climate change. Michael White, Nature's editor for climate science and host of Forecast, talked with Swann about how plants respond to and affect climate change. Understanding the interactions of vegetation with the atmosphere usually involve long, convoluted, and complex stories, however, Swann eloquently describes such interactions in simple ways in this podcast.

Listen at Forecast

Knut Christianson on the need for self-steering drones under Antarctica’s ice shelves

Knut Christianson, an assistant professor of Earth and Space Sciences, was profiled in the Scientific American about his current multi-million dollar project. Christianson, along with the Paul G. Allen Philanthropies foundation, will send a fleet of seven underwater robots into the world on a risky yearlong mission. Their goal is to help forecast sea level rise by observing the melting processes where layers of warm and cool water mix at the shelf. The complex physics in this unique region are poorly understood and make for a highly intriguing study. Scientists have been unable to make robust predictions about the ice shelves’ future and this seeks to change that.

Read More at Scientific American

Experiencing the Antarctic Through Art-PCC grads go on a field trip

by Michael Diamond, Atmospheric Sciences Graduate Student and PCC Graduate Student Representative On Saturday, October 28, a group of graduate students with the Program on Climate Change visited the Winston Wachter Fine Art gallery to see the exhibit “Antarctica” by artist Zaria Forman. The exhibit features detailed drawings of ice from Zaria’s four-week art residency aboard the National Geographic Explorer expedition ship. 

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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

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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