UW Scientists Discuss the Most Important Aspects of the Climate Conversation

Climate change is front and center at COP 21, which kicked off on Nov. 30 in Paris. At UW’s College of the Environment, a variety of scientists and researchers—biological, chemical, ecological, social, geophysical, and more—are examining climate change through their own unique lenses. Here’s what a few of them are looking to hear discussed through Dec. 11 at this year’s gathering of the Conference of Parties: “If you’re going to create a durable international agreement, it has to be something that everyone can be happy with this year, 10 years from now, and 20 years from now.  

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Citizen-science climate project adds logs from historic Arctic whaling ships

A January 1870 page from the log of the Trident, a whaling vessel that sailed out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Volunteers transcribe the handwritten text for climate clues.

Even if climate negotiations in Paris are successful, the planet is locked into long-term warming and an uncertain future. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. But what was the Arctic like before — when maritime explorers and whale hunters first ventured into its icy seas? If scientists could know more about Arctic climate of the past, they could better understand today’s changes, and use that knowledge to improve projections for the future. 

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Dean’s Letter: It’s time to imagine plausible and desirable futures

Dean Lisa Graumlich

We are squarely in the age of the Anthropocene, the first time in the history of our planet where humans are driving major environmental changes. Researchers in our College are at the leading edge of uncovering the fundamental changes occurring in the Earth system with implications at local to global scales. This research, the science of the Anthropocene, is both exceedingly exciting and profoundly important work. 

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Award honors hundreds of citizen scientists who search for Washington’s rarest plants

Volunteer Hally Swift, a UW Burke Museum employee, on the hunt for Barrett’s beardtongue (Penstemon barrettiae) in Klickitat County.

Each year, hundreds of volunteers spread across Washington’s forests and grasslands to look for the state’s rarest, most sensitive plant species. Many of these endangered populations live in remote valleys or along unseen slopes and haven’t been seen in a decade or more. That’s where the University of Washington’s Rare Plant Care and Conservation program comes in. Its team of more than 200 volunteers fans out each summer to gather intel, one plant population at a time, on some 4,000 living in Washington state. 

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