Kīlauea lava fuels phytoplankton bloom in the North Pacific Ocean

A new study co-authored by University of Washington researchers examines the effects of molten lava that flowed into the ocean as the result of the eruption of Kilauea volcano in Hawai’i from April to August 2018. UW School of Oceanography professors Virginia Armbrust and Anitra Ingalls found phytoplankton growth in the typically nutrient-poor Pacific, stimulated by high concentrations of nutrients from the lava. 

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New study tracks sulfur-based metabolism in the open ocean

Students with an oceanography instrument

One of the planet’s most active ecosystems is one most people rarely encounter and scientists are only starting to explore. The open ocean contains tiny organisms — phytoplankton — that perform half the photosynthesis on Earth, helping generate oxygen for animals on land. A study by University of Washington oceanographers, published this summer in Nature Microbiology, looks at how photosynthetic microbes and ocean bacteria use sulfur, a plentiful marine nutrient. 

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Wildfires west of the Cascades: rare, but large and severe

Most of us think of wildfire in Washington state as something that happens east of the mountains. There’s a reason for that: more than 99 percent of wildfires in the last 40 years have been east of the Cascade Crest. But forest fires are a natural, though rare, occurrence on the west side of the mountains as well. These verdant forests don’t immediately seem like burnable material. 

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3 UW graduate students earn NASA fellowships, continue legacy of success

NASA fellows Benjamin Barr and Lauren Satterfield.

Three University of Washington graduate students are among this year’s recipients of a prestigious NASA fellowship that funds student research projects in the fields of Earth and planetary sciences and astrophysics. This year’s UW awardees are from the College of the Environment and the College of Engineering, focused on topics that include ocean wave dynamics, the behavior of glaciers and how predator-prey interactions can influence wildfires. 

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USGS awards $10.4M to ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system in the Pacific Northwest

Field engineers Karl Hagel and Pat McChesney with Mount Hood in the distance.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) today announced $10.4 million in funding to the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN), based at University of Washington, to support the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system. Some $7.3 million of the funding will go to the UW. The PNSN is responsible for monitoring earthquakes and volcanoes in Washington and Oregon. It is a partnership between the University of Washington, the University of Oregon and the USGS. 

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