05.21.20

Big Score For University of Washington -- $300 Million For Ocean, Climate Studies

The University of Washington has scored big in two fields in which its research enjoys international renown -- ocean and climate research.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has selected the UW to lead a new Cooperative Institute for Climate, Ocean and Ecosystem Studies, which comes with a NOAA commitment of up to $300 million to fund climate and ocean research over the next five years.

The UW also led NOAA's previous cooperative research institute, the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean, where its scientists have worked on fascinating stuff.

They've probed marine heat waves such as the "Blob" off the West Coast -- familiar to radio listeners of UW atmospheric sciences Prof. Cliff Mass. They've documented an underwater volcano explosion in the Western Pacific, and the role of iron from ocean sea vents in fertilizing the marine food web.

They've modeled and developed software for the nation's Tsunami warning system -- of much importance to the Wshington Coast -- and and reconstructed the Arctic climate in the 19th Century, before the era of rapid global warming human-influenced global warming.

The NOAA commitment was cheered Wednesday by two Washington lawmakers who have advocated ocean research, and defended against Trump administration efforts to curtail it.

"Since 1977, the UW has known what we all know now: A healthy environment supports a robust ocean economy," said Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. "Now, at a time when research dollars are critical, NOAA is nearly tripling its investment in the world-class ocean science conducted by the UW," said Sen Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.

Cantwell fought a four year battle to get Washington state's first coastal Doppler radar system installed in Grays Harbor County. Hitherto, the Doppler radar station on Camano Island had its reach blocked by the Olympics, causing a gap in weather data on what was moving onshore and at what strength.

Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., whose district include the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas, described NOAA's new commitment as "great news for our region as we work to combat climate change."

Kilmer has fought efforts by the Trump Administration to zero-out federal money for the Puget Sound Cleanup, and to cancel out university research and public education supported by the federal Sea Grant program, of which the University of Washington is a major beneficiary.

"With our communities on the front lines of the climate crisis, having more federal dollars invested in Washington state and more expertise at our research institutions will help ourentire region take steps to mitigate the impacts, build more resilient communities," Kilmer added.

Research under the new NOAA commitment will include: Environmental chemistry, such as ocean acidification and ocean carbon; Analysis and forecasts for marine ecosystems; and polar studies and Arctic research.


By:  Joel Connelly
Source: Seattle Pi