95 news posts related to Geophysical Sciences

Return to News

El Nino tied to melting of Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier

Pine Island ice shelf

Many glaciers flowing from the land to the coast eventually float over the ocean and melt. The speed at which that melting occurs can depend on many factors, including the warmth of the water beneath it.  In Antarctica the Pine Island Glacier drives large amounts of ice into the ocean, and for decades the glacier’s tip has been thinning. College of the Environment scientists and their partners have connected the dots behind the complex drivers that explain why we are seeing this phenomenon occur.  

Read more »

Student Spotlight: Karl Lang

Karl Lang speaks as if being a geologist was his destiny. “I’ve always been interested in geology,” says Lang, who as a child was fascinated by rocks and fossils. He went on to study Geology and Economics at the College of William and Mary in Virginia and is now a PhD student in the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the UW College of the Environment. 

Read more »

Fossil raindrop impressions imply greenhouse gases loaded early atmosphere

A meerkat perches atop rocks bearing the fossil impressions of raindrops that fell in South Africa 2.7 billion years ago.

In ancient Earth history, the sun burned as much as 30 percent dimmer than it does now. Theoretically that should have encased the planet in ice, but there is geologic evidence for rivers and ocean sediments between 2 billion and 4 billion years ago. Scientists have speculated that temperatures warm enough to maintain liquid water were the result of a much thicker atmosphere, high concentrations of greenhouse gases or a combination of the two. 

Read more at UW Today »

UW scientist and team call for a new way to classify planets

Thousands of planets will likely be discovered in the next few years, and a new system is needed to better classify the ability of those worlds to support life. In a paper to be published in the December 2011 issue of Astrobiology, co-author David Catling from the Department of Earth and Space Sciences and colleagues propose a new system that classifies some planets as either similar to Earth or not similar but capable of harboring life.  

Read more at The Seattle Times »

Fiery volcano offers geologic glimpse into land that time forgot — with video

The operations area at West Mata volcano is part of the Lau Basin, bounded by Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.

The first scientists to witness exploding rock and molten lava from a deep sea volcano, seen during a 2009 expedition,  report that the eruption was near a tear in the Earth’s crust that is mimicking the birth of a subduction zone. Scientists on the expedition collected boninite, a rare, chemically distinct lava that accompanies the formation of Earths subduction zones. Nobody has ever collected fresh boninite and scientists never had the opportunity to monitor its eruption before, said Joseph Resing, University of Washington oceanographer and lead author of an online article on the findings in Nature Geoscience. 

Read more at UW Today »