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  • WA lawmakers want to fund solutions for healthier soil -- and less gassy cows | Crosscut
    Thursday, February 20, 2020
    Bipartisan proposals before the Washington Legislature would help scientists learn about storing carbon in agricultural soils and invest in GPS-guided tractors and climate-friendly cattle feed. David Montgomery, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • Jeff Bezos pledges $10 billion to fight climate change -- how should he spend it? | KUOW
    Wednesday, February 19, 2020
    Kim Malcolm talks with David Hyde about Jeff Bezos' $10 billion pledge to combat climate change. Two UW professors, Aseem Prakash (political science) and Eric Steig (Earth and space sciences), are mentioned. Read More
  • Canoeing to work: Floods bring chaos, renewal to Snoqualmie Valley | KUOW
    Wednesday, February 19, 2020
    The Snoqualmie Valley typically gets about one major flood each winter, according to the Snoqualmie Valley Preservation Association. So far this winter, there have been five major floods. David Montgomery, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • Earthquake experts lay out latest outlook for Seattle's 'Really Big One' | GeekWire
    Tuesday, February 18, 2020
    Earthquake experts say current building codes don't reflect the riskiest features of the Seattle area's geology -- but the outlook for survivability looks a lot better if the Really Big One can just hold off for a few more years. Erin Wirth, affiliate assistant professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, and Jeffrey Berman, professor of civil and environmental engineering at the UW, are quoted. Read More
  • As landslides close roads, Washington's remote towns deal with isolation | Crosscut
    Tuesday, February 18, 2020
    Washington's rain isn't just gloomy -- it's creating landslides that cut off rural communities. And as the climate warms, scientists warn they could get more frequent. Guillaume Mauger, research scientist with the UW Climate Impacts Group and Alison Duvall, assistant professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, are quoted. Read More
  • The Antarctic Peninsula's new heat record could soon be broken | National Geographic
    Tuesday, February 18, 2020
    Experts expect to see more extreme warming events in the future, raising alarm bells about the future of the world's largest frozen landmass. Peter Neff, a postdoctoral researcher at the UW, is quoted. Read More
  • The mystery of superbolt lightning | Inside Science
    Thursday, February 13, 2020
    While studying space plasma physics, Robert Holzworth, professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, and his team needed to keep track of lightning strikes around the world and built the World Wide Lightning Location Network. Holzworth is interviewed in this Inside Science video. Read More
  • Researchers at AAAS to discuss latest science on Cascadia earthquake hazards
    Thursday, February 13, 2020

    Substantial damage to Seattle's Pioneer Square can be seen in this photo of the aftermath of the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake.FEMA News Photo by Kevin Galvin

    The Pacific Northwest’s most recent large earthquake, the 2001 Nisqually earthquake near Seattle, was a magnitude 6.8, but history shows that the region could be rocked any day by a much larger event. At the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting this week in Seattle, researchers from the University of Washington and federal agencies will discuss the latest science on megaquakes as an emerging topic of concern.

    earthquake damage to brick building

    A set of three presentations and discussions, “Is the Coast Toast? Cascadia mega-earthquakes, tsunamis and potential impacts” will take place on Saturday, Feb. 15, at the Washington State Convention Center.

    Organized by Alison Duvall, an assistant professor of Earth and space sciences at the UW, and Harold Tobin, a UW professor of Earth and space sciences and director of the UW-based Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, the event will provide the latest research on seismic hazards, both along the coast and in built-up areas inland.

    “We hope to inform the audience and public about what is and is not known about subduction-zone earthquakes and their effects,” Tobin said. “While the scenarios will be specific to Cascadia, the fundamental work is about investigating how fault movement launches tsunamis and under what conditions the seismic waves create ground shaking that affects buildings and other structures.”

    The title references a line from the infamous 2015 New Yorker article, “The Really Big One,” that put Pacific Northwest megaquakes on the popular radar. Evidence from tsunamis shows that a huge earthquake occurred off the Pacific Northwest on January 26, 1700. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates a 14% chance it could occur again in the next 50 years.

    The session will consider both what such an earthquake might look like, and what it could mean for buildings and other structures in Seattle -- many of which were built before the region’s seismic hazards were fully understood.

    Diego Arcas, director of the Center for Tsunami Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, will begin the session at 3:30 p.m. with a discussion of new directions in tsunami modeling, which is the greatest hazard to communities on the Washington and Oregon coasts. Then, Erin Wirth, a research geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey and UW affiliate assistant professor in Earth and space sciences, will present on supercomputer simulations of Pacific Northwest megaquakes.

    Wirth builds on her 2017 work, as a UW postdoctoral researcher, that simulated what a magnitude-9 megathrust earthquake could look like depending on where along the Cascadia subduction zone the offshore rupture starts, and how close the slipping gets to cities on land. The team has now refined its results and begun to apply the simulations to estimate infrastructure damage.

    “Since we don’thave any direct observational records of the 1700 earthquake, our 3D supercomputer simulations of various possible magnitude-9 Cascadia earthquake scenarios has allowed us to quantify the range of possible ground shaking the Pacific Northwest might experience,” Wirth said.

    Jeffrey Berman, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering, will close with a talk focused on damage, titled: “Effects of simulated magnitude-9 earthquakes on structures in the Pacific Northwest.” He is leading the research on building response with Marc Eberhard, a UW professor of civil and environmental engineering.

    Jeffrey Berman will also give an informal presentation at the UW booth (#219) from 2-2:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 15. See here for a full list of UW faculty booth appearances. Meeting badge required.

    On Saturday, Berman will share results of a paper published this month in the Journal of Structural Engineering that considers how 32 midrise to tall building types, ranging from 4 to 40 stories, would fare in 30 different simulated Cascadia magnitude-9 earthquakes. The study led by Nasser Marafi, a UW postdoctoral researcher, finds that the current building codes underestimate how much shaking would occur as the loose soil in the Seattle basin amplifies the frequency of waves generated by offshore earthquakes, with strong shaking projected to last for almost two minutes.

    “The Cascadia subduction zone ground motions have longer duration and different frequency content than the ground motions experienced in California, which has formed the basis for most U.S. building codes,” Berman said. “The impact of those differences on structural performance was a big unknown prior to this research.”

    Each presentation will also include questions from those attending the AAAS annual meeting.

    “We are hoping that our session communicates the latest in subduction-zone research, but we also look forward to opening up a dialog between panelists and the audience,” Duvall said. “The AAAS format is special that way, that it offers a real chance for two-way communication.”

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  • Throwing ice down an ice hole makes crazy laser sounds | Nerdist
    Wednesday, February 12, 2020
    Researchers in Antarctica have been working hard to find the answer to a critical question that will help us make more-effective predictive climate models. But those researchers have also taken a little "chill" time here and there to throw some ice bricks down super-deep holes in the ground. Peter Neff, a postdoctoral researcher in Earth and space sciences at the UW, is interviewed. Read More
  • UW ESS Students Establish Contact with HuskySat-1 Satellite
    Tuesday, February 11, 2020
    Students in the Husky Satellite Lab at the UW have been celebrating successes since HuskySat-1, a student built satellite weighing about 9 lbs, deployed into space on Friday, January 31st. Read More