The Arctic and Antarctic are undergoing rapid and dramatic change due to globalization, climate change and other human impacts. The University of Washington College of the Environment conducts basic and applied research on the oceanography, climatology, meteorology, biology and ecology of the Earth’s polar regions.

We capitalize on our established expertise by investing in research, education and outreach to help us further understand and address the changes currently taking place in these critical regions. We leverage expertise through numerous collaborations with both on and off-campus partners that serve to strengthen our work on polar regions and its impact through the following research projects:

  • As the oldest interdisciplinary center at UW, the Quaternary Research Center has been a hub of research, drawing together UW faculty, student associates and visiting researchers as the nexus of polar research.
  • Researchers in the Applied Physics Lab and Department of Atmospheric Sciences are leaders in the development of numerical sea ice models used in forecasts ranging from daily to seasonal timescales. See it in action in the PIOMAS (Pan-Arctic Ice-Ocean Modeling and Assimilation System).
  • Drilling and analysis of ice cores to gather data about past climate variability in the Antarctic and in Greenland. Faculty and students in Earth and Space Sciences were an integral part of the recently-completed WAIS Divide ice core, the longest highest relational record of climate ever obtained in the Southern Hemisphere. UW researchers are also part of a multi-University program to lead the next major ice core project at the South Pole.
  • Faculty in the School of Oceanography are world leaders in the biology of sea ice, the dynamics of high latitudes oceans and in the development of ocean observing systems such as the autonomous underwater gliders.
  • College faculty and researchers work with the Applied Physics Laboratory’s Polar Science Center to conduct basic and applied research on the oceanography, climatology, meteorology biology and ecology of the ice-covered regions on Earth.
  • The Canada Fulbright Visiting Chair in Arctic Studies brings scholars, scientists, practitioners and leaders involved in Arctic affairs to the University of Washington to foster collaboration among those working in the circumpolar North and to reinforce relations between UW and Canadian scholars.

Polar research at the College of the Environment comes from units across the College, including: