64 news posts related to Extreme Environments

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Experiments measure freezing point of extraterrestrial oceans to aid search for life

This image, taken by the Galileo spacecraft in 1996, shows two views of Jupiter’s ice-covered satellite, Europa. The left image shows the approximate natural color while the right is colored to accentuate features. Europa is about 3,160 kilometers (1,950 miles) in diameter, or about the size of Earth’s moon.

Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of California, Berkeley have conducted experiments that measured the physical limits for the existence of liquid water in icy extraterrestrial worlds. This blend of geoscience and engineering was done to aid in the search for extraterrestrial life and the upcoming robotic exploration of oceans on moons of other planets. The results were recently published in Cell Reports Physical Sciences. 

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How ‘ice needles’ weave patterns of stones in frozen landscapes

Circles of stones in Svalbard, Norway. Each circle measures roughly 10 feet, or 3 meters, across. A mountain range is in the background behind the stone field.

Nature is full of repeating patterns that are part of the beauty of our world. An international team, including a researcher from the University of Washington, used modern tools to explain repeating patterns of stones that form in cold landscapes. The new study, published Oct. 5 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses experimental tools to show how needles of ice growing randomly on frozen ground can gradually move rocks into regular, repeating patterns. 

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South Pole and East Antarctica warmer than previously thought during last ice age, two studies show

Emma Kahle holds ice from 1,500 meters (0.93 miles) depth, the original goal of the South Pole drilling project, in January 2016.

The South Pole and the rest of East Antarctica is cold now and was even more frigid during the most recent ice age around 20,000 years ago — but not quite as cold as previously believed. University of Washington glaciologists are co-authors on two papers that analyzed Antarctic ice cores to understand the continent’s air temperatures during the most recent glacial period. 

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NSF-funded deep ice core to be drilled at Hercules Dome, Antarctica

Hercules Dome field team poses next to a plane

Antarctica’s next deep ice core, drilling down to ice from 130,000 years ago, will be carried out by a multi-institutional U.S. team at Hercules Dome, a location hundreds of miles from today’s coastline and a promising site to provide key evidence about the possible last collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet. The National Science Foundation has funded the roughly five-year, $3 million project involving the University of Washington, the University of New Hampshire, the University of California, Irvine and the University of Minnesota. 

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Big ships and underwater robots: heading out to sea with the Ocean Observatories Initiative

sablefish and Jason

It’s summertime, and that means scientists across the University of Washington College of the Environment are in the field collecting data. Researchers in the School of Oceanography are no different and are working off the Oregon coast on their annual expedition to maintain the long-running cabled ocean observatory. Part of the broader National Science Foundation’s Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), UW oversees the Regional Cabled Observatory that spans several sites in Pacific Northwest waters, ranging from shallow coastal locales to deeper waters in the open ocean more than 300 miles offshore. 

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