12 news posts from September 2015

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Young chum salmon may get biggest nutrition boost from Elliott Bay restored beaches

Elliott Bay shoreline

In the midst of ferry boats, container ships and tourists crowding Seattle’s Elliott Bay, young salmon are just trying to get a decent meal. The fish hatch in the rivers and streams that feed into Puget Sound and almost immediately rely on eating small organisms near the shore, including in the heart of Seattle’s commerce-filled waterfront. Though salmon share the busy Elliott Bay waters with boats and barges, scientists suspect built-up, “armored” shorelines and large piers may be the main culprits disrupting fish habitat. 

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A more acidic ocean will bend the mermaid’s wineglass

Mermaid's wineglass

New research from the University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Laboratories shows that a more acidic ocean can weaken the protective shell of a delicate alga. The findings, published Sept. 9 in the journal Biology Letters, come at a time when global climate change may increase ocean acidification. The creature in question is Acetabularia acetabulum, commonly called the mermaid’s wineglass. Reaching a height of just a few inches, this single-celled alga lives on shallow seafloors, where sunlight can still filter down for photosynthesis. 

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September launch could give UW team rare measurements of ‘dusty plasmas’

Forward section of the experimental rocket.

Researchers from the University of Washington are awaiting the launch an over 50-foot-long rocket from a launch site in Norway into the upper reaches of the atmosphere to observe and measure a puzzling phenomenon. This scientific mission, led and funded by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, will simultaneously create and observe “dusty plasmas” in Earth’s outer atmosphere. These hot, charged clouds of ions, electrons and dust form and dissipate naturally when swift-moving objects move through the atmosphere — from a satellite launching into orbit to a meteorite burning up in the atmosphere. 

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Finding Friday Harbor

Photo: Nick Bolton

At the College of the Environment, boundless field opportunities await our students and researchers. The Friday Harbor Laboratories are a research gateway to the Pacific, where you can foster your skills as a marine biologist, oceanographer, or in any number of ocean-related sciences. Sitting on the shores of Friday Harbor in the San Juan Archipelago, the labs are a renowned destination to immerse yourself in marine sciences as they relate to the Salish Sea. 

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Climate change could leave Pacific Northwest amphibians high and dry

A typical mountain wetland in the Pacific Northwest.

Far above the wildfires raging in Washington’s forests, a less noticeable consequence of this dry year is taking place in mountain ponds. The minimal snowpack and long summer drought that have left the Pacific Northwest lowlands parched have also affected the region’s amphibians through loss of mountain pond habitat. According to a new paper published Sept. 2 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, this summer’s severe conditions may be the new normal within just a few decades. 

Read more at UW Today »