8 news posts from June 2018

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NASA, NSF expedition to study ocean carbon embarks in August from Seattle

The Pacific Ocean off the West Coast is teeming with phytoplankton, plant-like marine organisms that reflect green light. Puget Sound is at the top of this image.

Dozens of scientists, as well as underwater drones and other high-tech ocean instruments, will set sail from Seattle in mid-August. Funded by NASA and the National Science Foundation, the team will study the life and death of the small organisms that play a critical role in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and in the ocean’s carbon cycle. More than 100 scientists and crew from more than 20 U.S. 

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Study: Undergrad research experiences make a noticeable difference

Alexander Riley works on the ROV during summer camp.

A new analysis by scientists from Auburn University, the University of Washington and three other collaborating institutions suggests the value of structured research programs for undergraduates extends to society as a whole by encouraging participants to seek advanced degrees in scientific and technological fields — often referred to as STEM, an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math. In an article published this week in the journal BioScience, the researchers reported that college undergraduates who take part in summer research training programs — specifically, in this study, the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Sites initiative — are 48 percent more likely to pursue STEM-related doctoral degrees than demographically matched students who apply but are not selected. 

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Key ocean fish can prevail with changes to farmed fish, livestock diets

A school of forage fish.

As seafood consumption outpaces the growth of other food sectors and continues to grow worldwide, farmed seafood — also called aquaculture — has increased rapidly to meet consumer demand. That means aquatic farming now puts the most pressure on the smaller forage fish harvested to feed their larger farmed counterparts such as salmon, carp and tilapia. A new study appearing online June 14 in Nature Sustainability shows that if current aquaculture and agriculture practices remain unchanged into the future, wild forage fish populations likely will be overextended by the year 2050, and possibly sooner — even if all stocks were fished sustainably. 

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Warmer climate will dramatically increase the volatility of global corn crops

Corn field under a blue sky.

New research led by the University of Washington looks at what climate change will mean for global yields of corn, or maize — the most widely grown crop in the world. Used in food, cooking oil, industrialized foods, livestock feed and even automobile fuel, the crop is one that all people, rich and poor, reply upon. Published June 11 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the results show that warmer temperatures by the end of this century will reduce yields throughout the world, confirming previous research. 

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