5 news posts from May 2022

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How climate change will impact outdoor recreation in the Pacific Northwest

As the seasons change in Washington state from winter to spring, you can almost hear the collective cheers at the promise of warmer weather and sunnier days. For some, though, this time of year also marks the dreaded end of winter fun, as snow starts melting on the Pacific Northwest’s tallest peaks. But how will climate change affect outdoor recreation, not only during these transitional periods but throughout the year? 

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Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UW Atmospheric Sciences

students walking through campus

The UW Department of Atmospheric Sciences strives to create an inclusive and welcoming environment where students, staff and faculty are supported and set up for success. Department Chair Cecilia Bitz has prioritized Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives, citing her personal work history as a motivator to create an equitable environment. “Diversity is so important to me personally because when I started my career, women were definitely a minority,” she said. 

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Model finds COVID-19 deaths among elderly may be due to genetic limit on cell division

This illustration represents the core theory in a new modeling study led by the University of Washington: The circles represent the immune system’s aging, in which its ability to make new immunity cells remains constant until a person (represented by the human figures) reaches middle-age or older and then falls off significantly. The central blue figure represents a virus or a challenge to the immune system.

Your immune system’s ability to combat COVID-19, like any infection, largely depends on its ability to replicate the immune cells effective at destroying the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes the disease. These cloned immune cells cannot be infinitely created, and a key hypothesis of a new University of Washington study is that the body’s ability to create these cloned cells falls off significantly in old age. 

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Unchecked global emissions on track to initiate mass extinction of marine life

Oceanographers reported that unless greenhouse gas emissions are curbed, marine biodiversity could be on track to plummet to levels not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs. The study authors modeled future marine biodiversity under projected climate scenarios and found that species such as dolphinfish, or mahi mahi (large fish in foreground shown here) would be imperiled as warming oceans decrease the ocean’s oxygen supply while increasing marine life’s metabolic demands.

As greenhouse gas emissions continue to warm the world’s oceans, marine biodiversity could be on track to plummet within the next few centuries to levels not seen since the extinction of the dinosaurs, according to research from the University of Washington and Princeton University. Oceanographers modeled future marine biodiversity under different projected climate scenarios. They found that if emissions are not curbed, species losses from warming and oxygen depletion alone could come to mirror the substantial impact humans already have on marine biodiversity by around 2100. 

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Experiments measure freezing point of extraterrestrial oceans to aid search for life

This image, taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996, shows two views of Jupiter’s ice-covered satellite, Europa. The left image shows the approximate natural color while the right is colored to accentuate features. Europa is about 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) in diameter, or about the size of Earth’s moon.

Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley have conducted experiments that measured the physical limits for the existence of liquid water in icy extraterrestrial worlds. This blend of geoscience and engineering was done to aid in the search for extraterrestrial life and the upcoming robotic exploration of oceans on moons of other planets. The results were recently published in Cell Reports Physical Sciences. 

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