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Lightning ‘superbolts’ form over oceans from November to February

Sydney lightening storm

The lightning season in the Southeastern U.S. is almost finished for this year, but the peak season for the most powerful strokes of lightning won’t begin until November, according to a newly published global survey of these rare events. A University of Washington study maps the location and timing of “superbolts” — bolts that release electrical energy of more than 1 million Joules, or a thousand times more energy than the average lightning bolt, in the very low frequency range in which lightning is most active. 

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Seagrass in Australia help students prepare for the real world

Students with a CTD

In the real world, engineers and scientists work together to conduct research and solve problems, but that is typically not the case in classrooms. But a month-long study abroad program provided an opportunity for student scientists and engineers to collaborate. University of Washington students traveled to the Queensland University of Technology in Australia, where they studied why seagrass and coral reef ecosystems are important, how to measure changes within these ecosystems and how to use robots to collect data. 

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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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Atmospheric Sciences' Qiang Fu awarded AMS Jule Charney Medal

Qiang Fu

Congratulations to Atmospheric Sciences‘ Professor Qiang Fu, who was recently awarded the Jule G. Charney Medal from the American Meteorological Society. This top honor is granted to individuals in recognition of highly significant research or development achievement in the atmospheric or hydrologic sciences. The citation will read, “For pioneering contributions to the theory and practice of atmospheric radiative transfer and its critical linkages to climate and climate change.” On a nice summer day, clouds can look soft and fluffy and benign, or wispy and thin. 

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Seismologists seek space on volunteers’ floors and lawns to study Seattle seismic risks

the sensitive equipment that researchers will use to monitor background vibrations in order to map the basin’s shape and contents

The Puget Sound area is vulnerable to several types of seismic risks. We might fixate on “The Really Big One” – the offshore hazard famously profiled in The New Yorker – but other dangers lurk closer underfoot, and might actually deliver more damage to Seattle. The nature of the ground beneath the city — a roughly 4-mile-deep basin filled with soil and soft rock — makes the urban core especially vulnerable to seismic shaking. 

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