Alison Gray wins inaugural Microsoft Investigator Fellowship

Alison Gray

Microsoft announced University of Washington School of Oceanography Assistant Professor Alison Gray as one of the winners of the inaugural Microsoft Investigator Fellowship, which empowers researchers of all disciplines who plan to make an impact with research and teaching using the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platform. Each fellowship provides $100,000 annually for two years and various training and community events. Gray is an oceanographer who studies the circulation of the ocean and its impact on the physics and chemistry of the climate system. 

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Tiny, ancient meteorites suggest early Earth’s atmosphere was rich in carbon dioxide

The coast of the Pacific Northwest from space.

Very occasionally, Earth gets bombarded by a large meteorite. But every day, our planet gets pelted by space dust, micrometeorites that collect on Earth’s surface. A University of Washington team looked at very old samples of these small meteorites to show that the grains could have reacted with carbon dioxide on their journey to Earth. Previous work suggested the meteorites ran into oxygen, contradicting theories and evidence that the Earth’s early atmosphere was virtually devoid of oxygen. 

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Eric Steig named chair of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences

Eric Steig

The UW College of the Environment is pleased to announce that Eric Steig has agreed to serve as chair of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences (ESS), effective February 1, 2020, through June 30, 2023. Steig is a glaciologist and isotope geochemist who studies how the climate behaved in the past to learn what it can tell us both about the effects of climate change today, and how it will change in the future. 

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‘The blob,’ food supply squeeze to blame for largest seabird die-off

Dead seabirds

The common murre is a self-sufficient, resilient bird. Though the seabird must eat about half of its body weight in prey each day, common murres are experts at catching the small “forage fish” they need to survive. Herring, sardines, anchovies and even juvenile salmon are no match for a hungry murre. So when nearly one million common murres died at sea and washed ashore from California to Alaska in 2015 and 2016, it was unprecedented — both for murres, and across all bird species worldwide. 

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Fisheries management is actually working, global analysis shows

Ray Hilborn in a speed boat on Bristol Bay.

Nearly half of the fish caught worldwide are from stocks that are scientifically monitored and, on average, are increasing in abundance. Effective management appears to be the main reason these stocks are at sustainable levels or successfully rebuilding. That is the main finding of an international project led by the University of Washington to compile and analyze data from fisheries around the world. 

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