UW-built sensors to probe Antarctica’s Southern Ocean

Research vessel in Antarctic waters.

The Southern Ocean plays a major role in taking carbon from our atmosphere and storing it in the ocean. Yet the finer points of what makes these waters so good at doing that are not well known. Notoriously dangerous seas, the Southern Ocean -- which surrounds Antarctica -- have historically been difficult for scientist to access and study. College of the Environment oceanographers are set to help change that as one of 10 partner institutions in a new National Science Foundation study. UW's contribution to the program will be through building and deploying 200 floats that will measure oxygen, nitrogen, acidity, chlorophyll and carbon.

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California blue whales rebound from whaling; first of their kin to do so

Blue whale

Populations of the iconic California blue whale have rebounded to near historic levels, a remarkable achievement considering the whales were hunted almost to extinction in the past. The study was lead by graduate student Cole Monnahan and coauthored by aquatic and fisheries sciences professors Trevor Branch and André Punt, and showcases a success story when it comes to conservation management.

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Predicting when toxic algae will reach Washington and Oregon coasts

Measuring HABs along the Pacific Coast

Late summer is the peak time for harmful algae that can turn lakes into toxic scum, cancelling fishing trips and fouling water supplies. While the Pacific Northwest doesn’t get anything near the activity that turned parts of Lake Erie into bright green slime, our coasts are vulnerable in late summer to this largely unpredictable – and in our case unseen – menace. University of Washington oceanographers have created a tool to help predict when harmful algae might strike. A few days’ warning could prevent last-minute beach closures or shellfish harvest losses, and reduce the risk of eating a clam filled with a neurotoxin that can lead to permanent short-term memory loss, or even death.

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