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71 posts in In the News

Congratulations Becky Alexander, our new PCC Director

Welcome to Becky Alexander, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, our new Program on Climate Change Director.  She and her group study how aerosol formation and the oxidative capacity of the atmosphere change in response to both climate change and anthropogenic activities. Thank you to the many members of the PCC community who provided thoughtful input during this selection process.

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UW Researchers detect carbon dioxide outgassing in the Southern Ocean

Alison Gray (UW Oceanography) and her team recently published a paper in AGU about significant carbon dioxide outgassing in the Southern Ocean during the winter. The Southern Ocean was previously thought to be a carbon sink, based off of measurements that were sparse and tended to be from the summer. This paper used data from SOCCOM (Southern Ocean Carbon and Climate Observations and Modeling) floats that take measurements year-round. Steve Riser (UW Oceanography) leads the UW team that is a part of SOCCOM. They build and test the floats before they are deployed, and have a key role in SOCCOM's observational group.

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Deep ocean warming rates are accelerating in the South Pacific

PCC board member Gregory Johnson (NOAA/PMEL) and former student Sarah Purkey (now at Scripps Institute of Oceanography) have recently published papers in GRL measuring warming rates in the South Pacific with Deep Argo (Johnson) and the impact of these warming rates on local sea level and heat budget (Purkey). Previous measurements of deep ocean temperatures were made on 10-year intervals, and indicate warming since the 1990s, but new data from the Deep Argo floats over the last 4.4 years show that these rates have accelerated. 

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Early spring rain boosts methane from thawing permafrost by 30 percent

As permafrost thaws, wetlands form, from which methane is released into the atmosphere due to microbial and plant processes. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with atmospheric warming abilities that can be up to 32 times stronger than that of carbon dioxide. A new study led by Dr. Rebecca Neumann, an associate professor in the UW Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters examining the impact that spring rainfall has on permafrost thaw and wetland methane emissions.

Read more at UW News

Ann Bostrom elected to Board of Directors for the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Ann Bostrom, Weyerhaeuser Endowed Professor in Environmental Policy, was elected to the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The AAAS seeks to "advance science, engineering, and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people." Congratulations, Ann!

Learn more about the AAAS 2018 elections

Permian Mass Extinction caused by Global Warming

A newly published paper in Science proves that the Permian mass extinction, which is the largest extinction in Earth's history, was caused by global warming that raised ocean temperatures and lowered the amount of oxygen the ocean could hold, making it difficult for marine organisms to survive. Justin Penn, a doctoral student in Oceanography, and Curtis Deutsch, an assistant professor of Oceanography, along with Stanford researchers, modeled climate conditions during the Permian and used published lab measurements and the fossil record to analyze the effects of the changing climate on marine organisms. This study's results, that mass extinction is an effect of increased greenhouse gases in the atmosphere resulting in a warmer ocean, are important considering our climate now. Penn said, "This study highlights the potential for a mass extinction arising from a similar mechanism under anthropogenic climate change.”

Read more at UW News

Responding to the National Climate Assessment Report

When paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould heard from his doctor that he had a rare and serious stomach cancer, he went straight to the medical library and devoured the scientific literature on his condition. He tells this story in his essay The Median Isn’t the Message.  “The literature,”  he writes, “couldn’t have been more brutally clear: mesothelioma is incurable, with a median mortality of only eight months after discovery.” The prognosis, the science, and the statistics helped Gould understand the nature of the disease, but after sitting in shock with the information, his realized that the most statistically likely life expectancy wasn’t up to chance alone.   

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