12 news posts from March 2021

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UW Environment’s Joshua Lawler named fellow of Ecological Society of America

Josh Lawler

Joshua Lawler, a University of Washington professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, has been named a 2021 fellow of the Ecological Society of America. Fellows are elected for life, and the honor recognizes scientists who advance or apply ecological knowledge in academics, government, nonprofits and the broader society. Lawler’s research centers on how climate change can drive shifts in plant and animal distributions, and the impacts those shifts have at both the species and ecosystem level. 

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Diversity, equity and inclusion at the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences

Students from Prof Brian Harvey’s Lab conduct research of the Norse Fire from 2017 in the Snoqualmie National Forest.

The School of Environmental and Forest Sciences (SEFS) has been hard at work ensuring that it is an equitable, supportive space for the entire community, both as a member of the SEFS community and physically in the hallways, field sites and labs once classrooms open back up for in-person learning. Armed with a diversity statement voted on and approved by faculty, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee focused their efforts on drafting a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Plan to carry out the diversity statement with actionable steps. 

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Warming temperatures tripled Arctic lightning strikes over the past decade

Lightening strikes water in background. Aircraft carrier with jets sitting on it in foreground.

Lightning strikes in the Arctic tripled from 2010 to 2020, a finding University of Washington researchers attribute to rising temperatures due to human-caused climate change. The results, researchers say, suggest Arctic residents in northern Russia, Canada, Europe and Alaska need to prepare for the danger of more frequent lightning strikes. The study, published March 22 in Geophysical Research Letters, used data from the UW-based World Wide Lightning Location Network to map lightning strikes across the globe from 2010 to 2020. 

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Tasty options as researchers tap a new forestry product

A student collects maple sap in Pack Forest

Scientists from the University of Washington are testing the viability of making maple syrup in the Pacific Northwest. Long associated with Canada or Vermont, this sweet forest product that has graced many a breakfast table may be part of this region’s future. Washington maple syrup is made from the watery-looking sap of bigleaf maple trees, one of the most abundant native hardwood trees in the Pacific Northwest.  

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‘By-the-wind sailor’ jellies wash ashore in massive numbers after warmer winters

Velella velella, also called “by-the-wind sailor” jellies, that washed ashore at Moolack Beach, Oregon, in 2018.

As their name suggests, by-the-wind sailor jellyfish know how to catch a breeze. Using a stiff, translucent sail propped an inch above the surface of the ocean, these teacup-sized organisms skim along the water dangling a fringe of delicate purple tentacles just below the surface to capture zooplankton and larval fish as they travel. At the mercy of the wind, these jellies can wash ashore and strand — sometimes numbering in the trillions — on beaches around the world, including up and down the U.S. 

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