News & Blog


On Wildfire Smoke and Climate Change

As satellite images of wildfire smoke and local air quality data streamed into our labs last month, the implications of our science have never felt so immediate. The thick haze of toxic wildfire smoke created levels of particulate matter that are the worst in over two decades for the Puget Sound region. In a lab meeting on a record-breaking pollution day, a colleague described a sinking feeling in her gut when she saw a group of children at summer camp playing outside in the smoke, since wildfire smoke can be especially dangerous for kids. 

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Understanding and Advancing Natural Resource Management in the Context of Changing Ocean Conditions

By Nyssa Baechler and Katie Keil The ocean is easy to take for granted一every day the tides roll in and out like clockwork, salmon return each season to their natal streams, and the ocean provides essential resources to sustain life around the globe. However, changes are happening at an unprecedented rate and the magnitude of the consequences of these changes is largely unknown. 

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Congratulations to Professor Cecilia Bitz, 2018 AGU Fellow!

Our PCC Director, Cecilia Bitz, was named AGU Fellow for the class of 2018, a recognition that only 0.1% of the AGU membership receives in any given year.  The AGU fellows program recognizes members who achieve excellence in research in ways that help us understand the complex natural world, in new, innovative ways that have sustained impact.  Cecilia will receive the honor in December at the AGU Fall Meeting in Washington D.C.  Read more about the AGU fellowship program here.

American Geophysical Union Announces 2018 Fellows

Mindfulness Practices as a Tool for Climate Change Communication

I’ve practiced nature-based spirituality in one form or another for more than twenty years. But spiritual or religious practices are not something that most scientists, particularly those in the “hard sciences,” talk about. This is perhaps a natural consequence of the idea that science needs to be unbiased. Personally, however, I feel a strong connection to the ocean generally and the Puget Sound region specifically. 

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"Climate change could heighten risk of global food production ‘shocks’"--Michelle Tigchelaar writes about her recent paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Michelle Tichelaar, a postdoctoral researcher at UW Atmospheric Sciences and others show in the PNAS paper that climate change will increase the likelihood of major crop failures of corn, and other crops, and provides context for the article in her piece for "Carbon Brief" Tigchelaar, M., Battisti, D. S., Naylor, R. L. and Ray, D. K. (2018) Future warming increases probability of globally synchronized maize production shocks, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1718031115

Michelle's opinion post in Carbon Brief

Communicating Sea Level Rise to Coastal Washington Communities: Opportunities, Challenges, and Concerns

-by Diana Perry, School of Marine and Environmental Affairs Graduate and Graduate Certificate in Climate Science Recipient, Spring 2018 The beach on Cape Cod where I grew up exploring looks different—a thinner, steeper backshore and steeper nearshore leading to a larger shallower point—than it did when I first stepped foot on it. In a few decades, it may not exist, or at the very least, will look dramatically different. 

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PCC members part of massive international project to monitor Thwaites Glacier

Knut Christianson, an assistant professor of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, and Nick Holschuh, a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, are helping to lead a massive international collaboration to better understand the fate of Thwaites Glacier, nicknamed the "world's most dangerous glacier". Their work is just one of eight projects involving over 100 scientists. The project aims to collect better data that will eventually be fed into computer models to forecast the future of Earth’s climate. The data that Christianson and Holschuh will collect will be from scans using two different radars to map the individual layers of snow, ice, and bedrock. Predictions of the near-term fate of Thwaites Glacier depend critically on a more detailed picture of the bed topography where the glacier resides.

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A Speakers Bureau for a local, worker-centric Climate Caucus

As climate researchers living in a city with the highest public recognition of global warming in the US, it’s easy to slip into social media-enhanced echo chambers about the science and risks of climate change. With the decline in civic organizations, as demonstrated in Robert Putnam’s popular book “Bowling Alone,” breaking out of this bubble and engaging in science conversations across diverse perspectives takes time and energy, and is especially difficult in the absence of a community affiliation that provides common ground. 

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UW affiliated researchers appointed to co-author IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

Four researchers spread out across the greater University of Washington area are among the 721 experts invited to participate as lead authors and editors in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). Two PCC board members, Kyle Armour, an assistant professor of oceanography and atmospheric sciences, and Kristie Ebi, a professor of global health and environmental and occupational health sciences were selected to help write the AR6. Amour was selected to be a lead author for Chapter 7 of Working Group I, which centers around the "Earth's energy budget, climate feedbacks, and climate sensitivity". Kristie Ebi was selected to be a review editor for chapter 1 of Working Group II, which assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change. On top of this, Richard Feely, of NOAA PMEL, was selected to be a review editor and Jeremy Hess, an associate professor of global health, was appointed to be a lead author for chapter 6 of Working Group II.

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Looking back at “Using past observations to constrain future climate variability and change” the inaugural mini-symposium

The Program on Climate Change hosted its inaugural “mini-symposium” at the UW Waterfront Activity Center on February 8-9, 2018. Exploring the theme of “Using past observations to constrain future climate variability and change”, the mini-symposium brought together a wide range of participants and speakers, including from the School of Oceanography, Department of Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, the Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, the Applied Physics Lab, and the NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. 

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