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Polar bears gorged on whale carcasses to survive past warm periods, but strategy won’t suffice as climate warms

Four male polar bears standing on a floating whale carcass shortly after it drifted to shore on the island of Svalbard.

Polar bears likely survived past warm periods in the Arctic, when sea ice cover was low, by scavenging on the carcasses of stranded large whales. This food source sustained the bears when they were largely restricted to land, unable to roam the ice in search of seals to hunt. A new study led by the University of Washington found that although dead whales are still valuable sources of fat and protein for some polar bears, this resource will likely not be enough to sustain most bear populations in the future when the Arctic becomes ice-free in summers, which is likely to occur by 2040 due to climate change. 

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NSF awards contract to carry OOI into the next decade and beyond

The School of Oceanography's Deb Kelley in the control room at the UW.

The National Science Foundation announced that it has awarded a coalition of academic and oceanographic research organizations a five-year, $220 million contract to operate and maintain the Ocean Observatories Initiative. The coalition, led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, with direction from the NSF and guidance from the OOI Facilities Board, will include the University of Washington, Oregon State University and Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. 

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Harold Tobin named director of Pacific Northwest Seismic Network

Harold Tobin, the new director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor in Earth and Space Sciences

The College of the Environment is pleased to announce that Harold Tobin has been named director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and professor within the Department of Earth and Space Sciences. Tobin will start his new position at the University of Washington on September 1, 2018. Tobin’s research involves interdisciplinary and integrative studies of subduction zone processes, with a focus on fault mechanics and seismic structure. 

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