110 news posts related to Geophysical Sciences

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UW launches GeoHazards Initiative; names Paros Chair in Seismology and GeoHazards

Shot of UW campus and Portage Bay

Leveraging the tectonic laboratory of the Cascadia subduction zone, the University of Washington today announced a new effort to best understand how to study and live with the threats of earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanos, landslides and other seismic hazards. Dubbed the GeoHazards Initiative, the interdisciplinary work aims to develop and promote the adoption of early detection systems both on land and at sea to help prevent the loss of human life and property. 

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Is potassium a key to understanding the ocean’s past?

Yan working in the lab.

When looking at a periodic table, potassium might not be the first element you’re drawn to – distracted instead by gold, copper or silver. But a new paper published in Science Advances suggests we should be paying more attention to this abundant substance. The study – with first author Yan Hu, a recent graduate student and postdoctoral researcher in the UW Department of Earth and Space Sciences and now at Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris – advances our ability to trace potassium isotopes at high precision, unleashing a suite of potential applications ranging from measuring past climates to further understanding ocean chemistry. 

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Ice within Mount Everest holds key to the past, hints at future

Khumbu Glacier between Mount Everest and Mount Nuptse.

Last year for International Mountain Day, we visited the shores of Mauna Kea in Hawaii and learned that it’s the tallest mountain in the world when measured from the base underwater up to the top. This year, we are travelling to colder climates to the highest mountain in the world when measured from sea level: Mount Everest. Department of Earth and Space Sciences’ Howard Conway officially had one of the most scenic offices in the world when he conducted field work on the Khumbu Glacier, one of the four major glaciers that flank Mount Everest.  

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Most landslides in western Oregon triggered by heavy rainfall, not big earthquakes

Will Struble and Alison Duvall dig into a landslide deposit near the community of Sitkum, Oregon.

Researchers at the University of Washington, Portland State University and the University of Oregon have shown that deep-seated landslides in the central Oregon Coast Range are triggered mostly by rainfall, not by large offshore earthquakes. The open-access paper was published Sept. 16 in Science Advances. “Geomorphologists have long understood the importance of rainfall in triggering landslides, and our study is simply driving home just how important it is,” said first author Sean LaHusen, who did the work as part of his doctorate at the UW. 

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February lockdown in China caused a drop in some types of air pollution, but not others

Pollution over Shanghai, China in October 2019.

Atmospheric scientists have analyzed how the February near-total shutdown of mobility affected the air over China. Results show a striking drop in nitrogen oxides, a gas that comes mainly from tailpipes and is one component of smog. Learning how behavior shifts due to the COVID-19 pandemic affect air quality is of immediate importance, since the virus attacks human lungs. The event is also a way for Earth scientists to study how the atmosphere responds to sudden changes in emissions. 

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