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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How do we know so much about ancient climates?

Isolab grad student Lindsey Davidge

Scientists know a lot about the Earth’s climate. Over the past sixty years, they have collected temperature and precipitation information, measured the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, and charted the changing weather. But what if we want to compare today’s climate to past climates—say, a million years ago or more? Traces of those past climates—referred to as paleoclimates—remain in rocks and ice as particles that once made up the ancient atmosphere, rain and soil. 

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Small but mighty: five small things that have big impacts


To better understand big picture issues, it can sometimes be useful to bust out the magnifying glass and zoom in on the smaller details. Over the years, University of Washington College of the Environment researchers have discovered a multitude of ways in which seemingly small things can have giant impacts on much larger systems. We’ve compiled a list of five of the best examples of things UW researchers discovered that are small, but mighty. 

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