The dream lab: UW's Friday Harbor Laboratories

Make no mistake, the sea is changing. Warming waters are causing some organisms to become more abundant, while undermining others’ ability to fight off disease. Invasive species, overfishing and mutated diseases are all signs and sources of changes to come. Increased acidity, whether from human activities like runoff and carbon emissions or from the upwelling of deeper waters, affects the ability of clams, oysters and fish to form shells and skeletons. 

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Swim record: Ray Hilborn and the Alaska Salmon Program

Ray Hilborn watched with satisfaction last summer as the near-record sockeye salmon run he and his UW colleagues had forecasted finally flooded from Bristol Bay up through the lakes and creeks of southwest Alaska. Their prediction? Forty-nine million sockeye—up more than 50 percent from the average of 32 million. When the season started slowly Hilborn got antsy, recalling the 1995 run, in which “there was nothing, nothing, nothing and people started to despair,” says the aquatic and fishery sciences professor. 

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Iceland volcano’s eruption shows how sulfur particles influence clouds

The Bardarbunga event was a fissure that emitted sulfur emissions during six months, providing a model for how volcanic or human emissions alter clouds.

It has long been suspected that sulfur emissions can brighten clouds. Water droplets tend to clump around particles of sulfuric acid, causing smaller droplets that form brighter, more reflective clouds. But while humans have pumped sulfur into Earth’s atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution, it’s been hard to measure how this affects the clouds above. New University of Washington research uses a huge volcanic eruption in Iceland to measure the change. 

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