Outlook for the polar regions in a 2 degrees warmer world

Four male polar bears standing on a floating whale carcass shortly after it drifted to shore on the island of Svalbard.

With 2019 on pace as one of the warmest years on record, a new international study reveals how rapidly the Arctic is warming and examines global consequences of continued polar warming. The study, published Dec. 4 in the journal Science Advances, reports that the Arctic has warmed by 0.75 degrees C in the last decade alone. By comparison, the Earth as a whole has warmed by nearly the same amount, 0.8 

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A day to celebrate the magic of soils


In 2013, the United Nations designated December 5 as World Soil Day. The date coincides with the birthday of the late King Rama IX of Thailand, a leading global advocate for the promotion of healthy soils and sustainable soil management. This World Soil Day, we’re digging into the history of soil science and looking ahead to see what the future holds for the oft-overlooked hero of our terrestrial ecosystem. 

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Better wildfire and smoke predictions with new vegetation database


It’s hard to find a place in the U.S. that isn’t impacted by wildfires and smoke. Dry landscapes, warmer temperatures and more development near forested areas all contribute to massive wildfires across North America each year. Smoke and haze from these fires can travel hundreds of miles from their source, affecting the health and wellbeing of communities across the U.S. Given these impacts, scientists rely on models that try to predict the severity of wildfires and smoke. 

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For some corals, meals can come with a side of microplastics

Researcher in lab studying coral

Tiny microplastic particles are about as common in the ocean today as plastic is in our daily lives. Synthetic clothing, containers, bottles, plastic bags and cosmetics all degrade and release microplastics into the environment. Corals and other marine organisms are eating microplastics that enter the waterway. Studies in this emerging field show some harmful effects, but it’s largely unknown how this ubiquitous material is impacting ocean life. A new experiment by the University of Washington has found that some corals are more likely to eat microplastics when they are consuming other food, yet microplastics alone are undesirable. 

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Three College of the Environment faculty members named AAAS fellows

Eric Steig and Julia Parish

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named three faculty members from the University of Washington College of the Environment as AAAS Fellows, according to a Nov. 26 announcement. They are part of a cohort of 443 new fellows for 2019, all chosen by their peers for “scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.” The three College of the Environment faculty members who have been named as fellows are: Julia Parrish, professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and the Department of Biology, is elected for her work in marine ecology. 

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