Citizen science key to keeping pace with environmental change

COASST out and about on Pacific Northwest beaches.

Is it plastic, metal, a fragment, sharp? Does it have a loop in it that a marine animal might stick its head through? Is it small enough and in the color range that an albatross might mistake it for flying fish eggs and eat it? The latest University of Washington program powered by citizen scientists aims to characterize debris washed up on beaches in terms of potential harm to seabirds and other marine animals. It’s one of thousands of research projects around the globe in which citizens collect, verify, analyze and report data about everything from what’s on the beach to what’s in the stars.

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Migrating animals’ pee affects ocean chemistry

A school of small fish in the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The largest migration on the planet is the movement of small animals from the surface of the open ocean, where they feed on plants under cover of darkness, to the sunless depths where they hide from predators during the day. University of Washington researchers have found that this regular migration helps shape our oceans. During the daylight hours below the surface the animals release ammonia, the equivalent of our urine, that turns out to play a significant role in marine chemistry, particularly in low-oxygen zones. Results are published online this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Outdoors become the classroom at the Mount Rainier Institute

Summer on Mount Rainier

In partnership with Mount Rainier National Park, the UW has launched the Mount Rainier Institute at Pack Forest. The Institute successfully completed its first run of the program over the summer, immersing middle school students in  multi-day activities focusing on science and STEM education. Using the national park and Pack Forest as its classroom, the Mount Rainier Institute aims to partner with schools to provide experiences that enhance curriculum, enrich science, and build community.

Read more at The Tacoma Tribune »