Earth & Space Sciences Newsletter

FromChair Winglee

Chair WingleeThere have been so many magnificent things to celebrate within the department and I have been somewhat remiss in creating this newsletter to keep you current on the events. With the help of the wonderful staff, we will now be sending the newsletter out twice a year, one in the fall and a second one in the spring, to provide you with the latest updates.

We continue to have an outstanding array of research, student experiences, awards, and making news and hope that you might bookmark our ESS web page to see the weekly developments within the department. Please join us for some great seminars and events as we look forward to another academic year of excitement.

In review of this recent year, three of our faculty members were promoted. Effective this fall, Kate Huntington and Drew Gorman-Lewis are now Associate Professors and Paul Bodin, who works with the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN) is now a Research Professor. We had a competitive search and selected Brian Collins to be the new full-time Senior Lecturer to support our professional Master’s program (see article about MESSAGe).

Our staff has also made some changes. In November of 2013, Assistant to the Chair, Nathan Briley transitioned to Senior Computer Specialist for ESS and hired in his place was April Huff. We have a new face at the front desk. Victor Aque was hired in February 2014 to support day-to-day office operations and assist our student services department. Michelle Conrad, Administrator, moved to Biology in March 2014 and Sue Bernhardt was hired from Geography, as our new ESS Administrator.

Continue to read about some of the innovative research performed by the faculty, and activities that our students and faculty are involved in, from ground shaking research, Mars, to dissecting rock dynamics and chemistry. Our student program has greatly increased over the last few years and their spectacular achievements are also highlighted.

We look forward to sharing more stories and keeping in touch.



Robert Winglee

Chair and Professor

Earth and Space Sciences

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Faculty Research

The M9 Project: Reducing Risk from Cascadia Megaquakes through Science, Engineering, and Planning

The next large megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone is the natural hazard that most threatens the Pacific Northwest. Similar to the deadly Tohoku Earthquake in Japan in 2011, a magnitude ~9 (M9) Cascadia earthquake would unleash a host of hazards over a wide swath of our west coast stretching from Northern California to Vancouver Island. Strong shaking would last several minutes, the rupture would trigger a destructive tsunami, liquefy the ground in low-lying areas, damage or destroy buildings and infrastructure, trigger numerous landslides, and have both short- and long-term impacts on our communities, economy, and environment. Over 20 researchers from six UW departments and four external organizations with expertise ranging from the social and physical sciences to mathematics, engineering, and urban planning banded together to tackle the interdisciplinary issue head on. The group was awarded a $3 million grant for Interdisciplinary Research in Hazards and Disasters through the National Science Foundation to pursue this goal and has just completed the first year of the four-year effort. The project is led by Professor John Vidale and five co-Principal Investigators including Alison Duvall and Frank Gonzalez from ESS, and coordinated in part by postdoc Kate Allstadt.

At the core of the project is a suite of potential fault rupture and ground motion scenarios using state-of-the-art modeling methods that will represent the range and variability of shaking that might occur. This then feeds into the other interconnected research aspects of the project including tsunamis, liquefaction, landslides, buildings and bridges, community planning, visualization of probabilistic results, and social aspects of earthquake early warnings. In April 2014, The M9 group held a kickoff workshop to engage stakeholders early on and involve them in shaping research directions from the start so results are useful and accessible. Other project priorities include engaging and training students: eight graduate students are funded through the project and there is a K-12 outreach program with a focus on hazards.

More information about M9 can be found on the project website and a King5 news clip here.

Searching for micro-earthquakes on detachment faults in Death Valley, California

Paul Bodin and Darrel Cowan are continuing their NSF-funded project in Death Valley. In September 2012, they had sited all twelve portable seismographs in a temporary array on the west side of the valley. Every two to three months, they return to the location to service the stations by retrieving and replacing the data cards. Paul has analyzed more than 2000 events that were recorded by the stations and selected about 300, with magnitudes 0 - 2.5 that are located within the central part of Death Valley. The preliminary results, which revealed a westward-dipping pattern of hypocenters consistent with the inferred geometry of the detachments, will be presented at the December 2014 American Geophysical Union meeting.

In July 2013, the Panamint Range on the west side of the valley experienced violent thunderstorms, and many of the roads needed to access the array were washed out. In November 2013, they had discovered that two of the 80-pound plastic Pelican boxes, which contained a data logger, GPS, and one or two 12-volt batteries, had been rafted in debris flows about 200 feet downstream in the washes from their original positions. The cables connecting the boxes to the sensors snapped and the sensors remain buried under about two feet of boulder debris. Most interesting is the fact that during their rides, neither box tipped over but rather remained upright. These serendipitous events may lead us to insights about the mechanics of debris flows.

microearthquakes

Two views of the station site “Hanaupah Canyon” taken in November 2013. The upper panel shows, at the tail of the arrow, where the Pelican and sensor were placed in January 2012. The box rafted along the arrow’s path to the left of the large rock. The lower panel shows the approximate path of the box from the large rock to its final resting place about 200 feet from its original position.

iMUSH

ESS Grad Shelley Chestler

During the summer of 2014, ESS grad student Carl Ulberg led teams of nearly 20 faculty, grad students and undergrad interns from UW, the Cascade Volcano Observatory, and Cornell University, to install 70 broadband seismometers in a 100m x 100km area on and around Mount St. Helens. These will record data for two years, with data collection visits three times per year, and be analyzed to image the deep magma plumbing system under the mountain as well as regular earthquake activity and unusual signals emanating from the mountain. This $3 million NSF-funded experiment, called imaging Magma Under St. Helens (iMUSH), is led by ESS professors Ken Creager, John Vidale, and Heidi Houston as well as ESS Affiliate Associate Professor, Olivier Bachmann. The experiment includes scientists from the Cascade Volcano Observatory, Cornell University, and Rice University and involves jointly analyzing seismic, magnetotelluric and geological data (see iMUSH.org for details).

iMush Group Photo

Upper image: ESS graduate student Shelley Chestler.
Lower image left to right: Alicia Hotovec-Ellis, Jiangang Han, Carl Ulberg, Gina Belair (IRIS undergrad intern from UC Berkeley), Ken Creager, and Mika Usher

Student Rocket Program a Crashing Success

Approximately five years ago, Prof. Robert Winglee started a hands-on rocketry class for students to gain some experience in understanding what it is like to build and fly some of the hardware necessary for space exploration. The class has grown from five students in its first offering to nearly 50 students. The students participate in rocket launches at Mansfield in Eastern Washington in Fall Quarter and at Black Rock, Nevada during spring break. They get to experiment with a variety of different technologies including clustered rocket motor systems, multistage rockets and rockets launched from a balloon as they push for higher altitudes. A new height record for the group of 40,000 feet was set this spring and efforts continue for an attempt at 100,000 feet. In addition, the rocket program has led to the development of a potential sample return system from solar system objects using high velocity rocket impacts. This program has been selected by NASA's Innovative Advanced Concepts for a feasibility study which is ongoing.

Rocket Launch Group Photo from Blackrock Rockets Launch

Launch and Group Photo from Blackrock Rockets Trip

Studies of Mar's geology and habitability: Interpreting Curiosity Rover's data using Dry Valleys, Antarctica as an Earth analogue.

Bernard Hallet and Ron Sletten are members of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) team that is currently exploring Gale Crater on Mars with the Curiosity Rover that was launched in November 2011. They work primarily with the Malin Space Sciences System group who designed and oversees the operation of the Mastcam, MAHLI, and MARDI cameras that produce the remarkable images taken on Mars and during the landing. With their familiarity with surface processes, soils, and landscapes in hyperarid, frigid conditions of Antarctica and other polar environments, Hallet and Sletten’s expertise is particularly helpful for interpreting geomorphic features and processes based on the images and complementary characteristics (e.g. chemical composition, mineralogy, particle size) derived from the arsenal of other instruments on Curiosity. They are also involved in route selection and hazard assessment as the rover drives from the bottom of Gale Crater to Mt. Sharp.

Curiosity Rover

Self-portrait of Curiosity on a flagstone network in the Yellowknife area of Gale Crater (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, PIA16457: Curiosity Self-Portrait, Wide View, http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA16457, mosaic of images acquired by the MAHLI camera provided by Malin Space Science Systems).

The first drill hole was made here; it provided evidence of a past environment that could have been conducive to living organism in the distant past. The flagstones of lithified mud may represent a desiccated ancient lake bed, a hypothesis explored by Wayne Stewart in his Master’s degree research completed in 2013. (Image courtesy of NASA)

Mars and Antartica Similarities

One of the intriguing features studied by Hallet and Sletten in the Dry Valleys of Antarctica (right image), are networks of distinct troughs that form as loose sand ravels into open cracks; the cracks form and open as the ground contracts. This recurrent crack opening and closing is seen in ice-cemented soil as it cools and warms, respectively. Similar troughs are evident on Mars (left image, NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS, mosaic of images from sol 166) and yet, we do not expect ground ice to be present in this region of Mars and the soil temperature changes are inconsistent with the observed spacing of the cracks and size of the troughs. Moreover, significant surface activity is surprising in a landscape generally thought to be ancient, perhaps billions of years old. Hallet and Sletten are actively studying these puzzles, and more generally, weathering processes, rock erosion by wind-driven sediment, and exchange of moisture between the regolith and the atmosphere. As part of her doctoral research in ESS, Lu Liu, is studying and numerically modeling this moisture exchange for both Antarctica and Mars.

Serptentinites Research Update

ESS Emeritus Faculty Bernard Evans

In ongoing research on serpentinites, Emeritus Professor Bernard Evans, in collaboration with Scott Kuehner and Dave Joswiak, Astronomy, has found fayalitic olivine as a product of serpentinization (a metamorphic process involving heat and water) in coarse-grained igneous rock samples from the Duluth mafic igneous complex. This totally new and surprising discovery points to the action of circulating reduced, hot acidic meteoric fluids leaching out magnesium. Iron-rich phyllosilicate products resemble similar assemblages found on Mars. Serpentinites are of considerable current interest: They may play a role in deep subduction-zone earthquakes; they supply water to help generate arc magmas in the mantle wedge; they are a potential repository for anthropogenic carbon dioxide; they are a valuable decorative stone; and they make asbestos. “Serpentine” is (or was - due to the asbestos controversy) the State Rock of California.

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Departmental Happenings

New QRC Director – Ben Fitzhugh

QRC Director Ben Fitzhugh

After five years directing the Quaternary Research Center (QRC), Eric Steig stepped down on January 1st, 2014, so he could focus on leading the Future of Ice Initiative. Dean Lisa Graumlich appointed Ben Fitzhugh, an archaeologist and Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology, as the new QRC Director. Ben has been a member of the QRC for 15 years, working on interdisciplinary projects with a number of ESS faculty/students and other QRC members in this time. As QRC director, Ben seeks to continue a long and distinguished QRC tradition promoting cutting-edge interdisciplinary scholarship into the evolution of the earth surface (and the role of climate, oceans, earth, plants, animals and humans in it) over the past two and a half million years. Initial goals include engagement of new UW faculty and researchers from across UW's campuses in QRC activities, expanded use of QRC's limited financial resources as seed funding for new Quaternary-related research, and sustainability of the Center's stand-out journal, Quaternary Research (published by Elsevier and edited by UW researchers since its founding in 1969). Ben is also a founding member of the UW Future of Ice Initiative, and the QRC is a leading partner in this initiative, co-funding a post-doc in polar paleoecology (Ethan Hyland, starting Sept. 2014) and supporting a second post-doc in glacial hydrology/sediment flux (Ben Hudson, starting January 2015). For more information on the Future of Ice post-docs--both with geological dimensions-- see http://ice.washington.edu/2014/05/12/new-future-of-ice-post-docs/.

ESS Welcomes New Faculty Member – Michelle Koutnik

New Faculty Member Michelle Koutnik

Dr. Michelle Koutnik joined the faculty in summer 2013 as a Research Assistant Professor. Her research in glaciology includes study of the evolution of glaciers and ice sheets on Earth, and also of polar ice on Mars. She is interested in how and why ice reservoirs get thicker/thinner or advance/retreat due to changes in climate and due to ice dynamics on timescales from tens to tens of thousands of years. Her work involves numerical modeling as well as field-data collection. She has done field work in Antarctica, Greenland, and the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. Previously she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Ice and Climate in Copenhagen, Denmark. She earned her PhD from the University of Washington in 2009.

Adviser of the Year - ESS's Noell Bernard-Kingsley

Adviser of the Year - Noell Bernard-Kingsley

Our own Noell Bernard-Kingsley, who has been our Graduate Academic Advisor for four years, won the prestigious Adviser of the Year award from The Association of Professional Advisers and Counselors (APAC). The Association of Professional Advisers and Counselors (APAC), formed in 1976, is a community-driven organization for advisers and counselors at the University of Washington and only recognize the top one or two outstanding advisers a year. Congratulations Noell!



Retirement - Stephen Warren

Retiring Faculty Member - Stephen Warren

Stephen Warren, joint professor of Atmospheric Sciences and ESS retired in June 2014 after 32 years at UW. He is now an Emeritus Professor of ESS and will continue to teach on a part-time basis. Dr. Warren is a chemist whose research interest is the interaction of solar radiation with snow, clouds, and sea ice, and their role in climate. He has carried out fieldwork in the Southern Ocean, the East Antarctic Plateau, Greenland, Svalbard, Canada, Siberia, and China, with Australian, Russian, French, Danish, Norwegian, Chinese, and U.S. expeditions. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the recipient of a Special Creativity Award from the National Science Foundation. He is also the namesake of the Warren Ridge in Antarctica.

Passings - Hansen

Professor Gonzalo Hernandez

Research Assistant Professor, Gary Hansen passed away late September of 2013. His focus was on planetary remote sensing, optical properties of materials, and calibration of remote sensing instruments studying the composition of various planetary surfaces by modeling their remotely measured spectra over a broad wavelength range. His research included infrared spectra of the Galilean satellites of Jupiter and the icy satellites of Saturn and polar cap composition of Mars using both near- and thermal-infrared measurements.



Passings - Hernandez

Professor Gonzalo Hernandez

It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of Research Professor, Gonzalo Hernandez July, 2014. Gonzalo Hernandez was a physicist who was with UW for 26 years, studying the global circulation dynamics of the Earth's upper atmosphere. His experimental investigations consist of ground-based optical remote-sensing, using very high-resolution spectroscopic techniques, including the analysis and interpretation of those data, which involve modeling methods developed with colleagues. Over the years, ground-based observations have been made at South Pole, Antarctica, McMurdo, Antarctica, Mt. John, New Zealand, Fritz Peak, Colorado and Poker Flat, Alaska. These aeronomic investigations have been, in turn, supported by the ongoing theoretical and laboratory studies of novel and rugged multiple-interference optical devices. The Hernandez Valley in the Apocalypse Peaks of Antarctica is named for him.

College of the Environment's Outstanding Researcher - Eric Steig

Professor Eric Steig

ESS Professor and adjunct professor in Atmospheric Sciences, Eric Steig was awarded the College of the Environment Outstanding Researcher of the year in 2014. A prolific researcher, Eric’s work on the geochemistry of ice cores and their climatic interpretation has redefined the understanding of high latitude climate change. He served for years as the associate editor for the journal Quaternary Research and was the director of the Quaternary Research Center. He is now the chair of the Future of Ice initiative. Eric’s research and his efforts to engage the general public around the science of climate change are both internationally lauded.


AGU Awards - Ghiorso and Sack

Two ESS Affiliate faculty, Professors’ Mark Ghiorso and Richard Sack are recipients of the American Geophysical Union Bowen Award. This award is given annually by the VGP section for outstanding contributions to volcanology, geochemistry or petrology. The award has also been previously given to two UW graduates, Professors Marc Hirschmann in 2011 and Peter Kelemen in 2004. Collectively this is an expression of the research innovation, visibility and strength of the ESS petrology program.

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Student Life

Graduate Dean’s Medalist: Alicia Hotovec-Ellis

Alicia graduated this June as a PhD student in Earth and Space Sciences. Her work has received numerous awards over her tenure in the college, and one particular study–on the screams that volcanoes emit before erupting–has been covered by numerous news organizations. Alicia has been invited to speak on numerous occasions, she is highly active in the department, and she volunteers in the community regularly, providing valuable science outreach to high school kids and the general public. She is currently a post-doc in ESS.

Undergraduate Dean’s Medalist: Heather Bervid

Heather graduated this June as a double-major in both Earth and Space Sciences and English. A top-notch academic, Heather completed her independent research on alpine glacial systems and their relationship to climate change and human activities. She was the recipient of a Mary Gates Undergraduate Fellowship, and expects to publish her research results soon. Heather served on the College curriculum committee, and she was the vice president of the ESS undergraduate “Geoclub”, which provides mentoring, social events and field trips for ESS students. She also volunteered at the Burke Museum.

GSA Award: Rebekah Cesmat

Masters in ESS-Applied Geoscience program (MESSAGe) candidate Rebekah Cesmat is the 2014 recipient of the Park D. Snavely, Jr., Cascadia Research Award from the Geological Society of America for her research on the Seattle Fault. The award provides support for "field-oriented graduate student research that contributes to the understanding of the geologic processes and history of the Pacific Northwest convergent margin, or to the evaluation of its hazard or resource potential."

ESS Goes to the Outback

Led by Robert Winglee and Jody Bourgeois, ably assisted by TA Kelly Hillbun, with logistical support from Jenny Winglee, 14 ESS majors and non-majors headed to Australia as part of a UW Exploration Seminar, ESS International Field Geology in summer 2013. During spring quarter, they met once a week to teach themselves some basics about Australian, culture, history and geology. Starting in mid-August and traveling in four Land Cruisers, the group had a true, five-week outback experience driving and camping from Darwin (Northern Territory) to Perth, Western Australia. The first stop was a “jumping crocodiles” cruise, focused on up-close-and-personal encounters with saltwater crocs (who swim up rivers), which subsequently effectively kept everyone out of waters where there were croc warnings! Nonetheless, they were introduced to some fabulous (safe) swimming holes, which were very welcome during a winter heat wave. Some highlights included kayaking Katherine Gorge, hiking Punalulu’s Bungle Bungle Range, searching for the oldest stromatolites (including a site named for ESS Professor Roger Buick), exploring the Devonian reef complex of Windjana Gorge (Kelly’s dissertation locality), investigating Wolf Creek (impact) crater, touring the Tom Price iron mine, scrambling through the red gorges of Karajini National Park, and meandering amongst the pinnacles in Pinnacles National Park. The final week included quite a bit of beach and reef-snorkel time and a visit to the famous living stromatolites in Shark Bay. A slide show about the trip can be found here.

Exploration Seminar Exploration Seminar

Graduation 2014

Our graduates continue to soar and this year was no exception. This year a record number of stellar students received their diplomas - 14 PhD’s, 19 Master’s, and 63 undergraduates in total. Graduation was held in our neighboring building, Bagley Hall on June 14th to congratulate the accomplishments of our many graduates with family and friends.

Class of 2014

ESS PhD Graduates of 2014

Class of 2014

ESS Masters Graduates of 2014

Class of 2014

ESS Undergraduate Class of 2014

Erik Oswald, ESS Alumnus who currently works as the Vice President Americas for ExxonMobil Exploration Company in Houston, Texas, was the guest speaker offering advice to our graduating students. Congratulations to each and every one of our graduates. Wishing the best and much success in the future!

Please see all graduation pictures and information here.

The video of our ceremony can be found here.

WSGC Fellowships Strengthen Rockin' Out Program

Shelley Chestler

Two years ago, the Washington NASA Space Grant Consortium established a graduate fellowship to support expansion of Rockin' Out (the popular outreach program organized by the ESS graduate students) and to provide the group's volunteer leader with money and time to complete his or her own research. Fellow Shelley Chestler said the award gave her a chance to take on tasks such as redeveloping the Rockin' Out website and preparing new lessons, as well as taking the program into area schools and community events. Last year the group participated in more than 25 hands-on learning events on and off the UW campus. The fellowship also allowed time for Shelley to pursue her research on low frequency earthquakes in the Cascadia Subduction zone. Each Space Grant Rockin' Out Fellow receives $5,000 plus a tuition waiver for one quarter. ESS alumnus Karl Lang, the first awardee and now a visiting assistant professor at Pomona College, called outreach a critical part of science. If scientists fail to communicate the significance and impact of their work (at least broadly), he said, they are missing a big part of the job.

MESSAGe Program Success

The Masters in ESS-Applied Geoscience program (MESSAGe) launched in September 2012 with the mission to educate geoscientists for professional practice outside academia. Students take a core curriculum that features fluvial and hillslope geomorphology, engineering geology, hydrogeology, and geographic information systems (GIS). Two 9-day field courses in applied geology, year-long seminars in technical communications and professional practice, and a couple of electives round out the MESSAGe coursework. Most of these are new or rejuvenated courses created or rebuilt by MESSAGe core faculty: Mike Brown, Brian Collins, Juliet Crider, Alison Duvall, Kathy Troost, and Steven Walters.

MESSAGe is an intensive non-thesis Master’s degree that culminates in an off-campus internship project. Students have engaged in Master’s internships with a diverse range of local firms and agencies, under the guidance of an internship mentor at the host agency and MESSAGe Program Coordinator Kathy Troost. MESSAGe students have tackled projects related to landslide hazards, hydrogeology, coastal geomorphology, and active faulting. Students complete the degree with a written report, a presentation of internship findings, and a final comprehensive exam. The first ten MESSAGe graduates are already finding work in firms and agencies across the region.

We are grateful for the participation of many professional geoscientists in various aspects of MESSAGe. Among them, the MESSAGe Panel of Advisors has helped us to define program goals, identify internship opportunities and design the final comprehensive exam. Thanks to current and former Panel members: Tim Abbe (Natural Systems Design), Tom Badger (Washington Department of Transportation), Ron Bruhn (University of Utah), Paul DeVries (R2 Consultants), Tom Doe (Golder Associates), Lorraine Edmond (US EPA), Sue Kahle (USGS Water Science Center), Bill Laprade (Shannon & Wilson), Ian Miller (Washington SeaGrant), Jim Miller (GeoEngineers), Mark Molinari (URS Corp.), Dave Norman (State Geologist), Kit Paulson (City of Bellevue), and Stephen Slaughter (Washington Department of Natural Resources).

For more information about MESSAGe, contact program director, Prof. Juliet Crider or visit the MESSAGe web page at http://www.ess.washington.edu/ess/education/grad/message/.

MESSAGe Students and Kathy Troost at Dungeness Spit

MESSAGe students and Kathy Troost at Dungeness Spit in the June 2014 field class.

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Events

ESS Anuual Awards Ceremony - 2014

Each year ESS recognizes our top undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and staff at the Annual Awards Ceremony. On May 15th, among the many donors attending the special event were Tucker and Melody Barksdale, Emeritus Professor Eric Cheney, Katherine Reinleitner of the Mindlin Foundation and North Seattle Lapidary and Mineral Club representatives Marcia Skinner and Rick Fogel.

Tucker Barksdale and Eric Cheney presented the Julian D. Barksdale Service Award to Assistant Professor Juliet Crider. Barksdale also presented the Julian D. and Marajane Barksdale Undergraduate Student Award to Joel Atwood and Justin Brooks.

Other award highlights included Professor Roger Buick receiving the Robert G. and Nadine E. Bassett Excellence in Teaching Award, and Alicia Hotovec-Ellis and Tom Tobin receiving the David A. Johnston Memorial Fellowship Award for the top two research graduates. Hotovec-Ellis is now a Post-Doc here in ESS focusing on volcanology /seismology and Tobin has accepted a Visiting Assistant Professorship at Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Sebastian Belfanti, Chelsey DeWitt, Peter Bowman and Tait Russell were recipients of the Joseph A. Vance Endowed Student Support Fund.

These are just a few of the award recipients who are supported by private philanthropy and faculty endowments. Many thanks to all of our donors for their contributions which enhance the education and research opportunities within ESS.

Congratulations to our all of our award winners. Further award details can be found here.

Award Ceremony 2014

Assistant Professor Juliet Crider with Tucker Barksdale, Eric Cheney and Robert Winglee

Family Day 2014

Family Day 2014, held on a sunny and warm April 12, turned out to be another successful event, attracting over 300 children and adults to the sixteen exhibits held in Johnson Hall. Exhibits included water rocket building and launching, radiation measurement, eating nitrogen-made ice cream, a seismology jump station and rock splitting. The always fun and exciting water cryo-volcano exploded three times throughout the afternoon and Robert’s infamous death ray was a success due to the beautiful weather. Our friends from North Seattle Lapidary and Mineral Club hosted the rock wheel spin and kids received a variety of colorful stones to take home.

Many thanks to our volunteers, exhibitors, and community who joined us at Family Day 2014!

ESS Family Day 2014

Labs Unlocked: Science at the Source

On the evening of May 14, Earth and Space Sciences hosted alumni and donors for a behind the scenes look at the cutting-edge research being conducted by our faculty and students.

Labs Unlocked

Guests listen to a preview of the research they are about to see in the labs.

About 40 guests gathered in Johnson Hall for refreshments, and then set out to tour the labs. Highlights included visiting the Rocket Lab where Chair Robert Winglee and his team ignited space plasma to demonstrate their research into the substance as a potential fuel source that may one day allow rockets to refuel in space.

Kate Huntington and her students showcased the IsoLab with great demonstrations of the methods they use to transform rock samples from around the globe to measure the temperature of Earth’s surfaces in the distant past and to understand the evolution of our world's landscapes and climate.

Labs Unlocked

In-house design-built isotope prep system in the IsoLab.

Eric Steig used an ice core from Greenland and a state-of-the art laser spectrometer to show the group how he and colleagues study Earth’s climate now and how they glimpse the future using climate models. Participants were able to see the tiny bubbles of ancient atmosphere preserved within the ice core, and learned how the bubbles are studied to understand the conditions present at their formation.

The evening was declared a success by participants who were able to interact with faculty and students and to see their donated dollars at work in the labs.

NSF CEDAR Workshop hosted at the University of Washington

The 2014 Coupling, Energetics, and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR) workshop was held at the University of Washington in Seattle for the first time in late June 2014. This event was hosted by ESS Adjunct Professor John Sahr and brought in 350 scientists of which approximately half were students. Attendees were mostly from the US, but there were a number of international participants as well. The CEDAR community studies the neutral and ionized atmosphere from 50 km to about 1500 km, and includes theorists, modelers, and experimentalists in both radio and optical methods, with both remote sensing and in situ instrumentation. CEDAR will be returning to the UW in June 2015. More information can be found on CEDAR’s website.

ESS Bikes to the Finish

In May, three teams from ESS competed in the Cascade Bicycle Club's Commute Challenge. Twenty seven riders composed of Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students commuted over 2500 miles to-and-from school via bicycle during the month of May. Team Raindawgs came in third place for most overall rides completed out of the over 2000 teams participating. ESS is committed to having a positive impact on our environment and our showing in the Commute Challenge proves it!