Scientists dig into massive data collected during international high-seas expedition

Share

Questions about where salmon go and how they survive when traveling far out into the Pacific Ocean have puzzled scientists for 200 years. But a new vision for piecing together this intricate puzzle has begun to emerge, thanks to sophisticated research tools deployed during an international expedition this past winter. Last week, scientists got together in Vancouver, British Columbia, to share their preliminary findings and to brainstorm the next steps in a collaborative effort to solve some of the great mysteries of Pacific salmon. Researchers from multiple countries provided wide-ranging […]

North Pacific expedition gets underway aboard four ocean-going research ships

Share

A North Pacific research expedition is underway, with projects said to be bigger, bolder and more scientifically sophisticated than cruises in 2019 and 2020. Four research vessels carrying more than 60 scientists from various countries will span out across the Pacific Ocean to increase their understanding of salmon — including migration, environmental stresses, availability of prey and risks from predators. Researchers aboard a U.S. ship operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration left from Port Angeles this morning. There has never been a research cruise as involved as this […]

Scientists look for answers in methane bubbles rising from bottom of Puget Sound

Share

In 2011, sonar operators aboard the ocean-going Research Vessel Thomas G. Thompson inadvertently recorded a surprising natural phenomenon, as the 274-foot ship traversed through Puget Sound while returning to port at the University of Washington. At the time, researchers on board were focused on a host of other projects. They might not have known that the ship’s multi-beam sonar was even turned on. They certainly didn’t realize that the sonar was picking up images that would later be interpreted as multiple plumes of methane bubbles rising from the bottom of […]

Understanding the cold-water needs of salmon and helping them to survive

Share

Salmon need cold water. This general statement is something I’ve been hearing since I first began reporting on these amazing migrating fish years ago. Cold water is a fact of life for salmon, known for their long travels up and down streams, out to saltwater and back. But colder is not always better. Questions about why salmon need cold water and how their habitat might grow too warm or too cold led me into an in-depth reporting project. I ended up talking to some of the leading experts on the […]

Modeling “the blob” in the Salish Sea

Share

In late 2013, a marine heatwave that scientists dubbed “the blob” began warming the ocean throughout the Northeast Pacific, causing temperatures to rise almost 3°C above normal. The disruption severely depressed salmon returns. Whales, sea lions and seabirds starved, and warm water creatures were suddenly being spotted off the coast of Alaska. In Puget Sound, temperatures also jumped, but the effects of the blob here proved difficult to study because of the natural variability of the Salish Sea and the heavy influence of freshwater mixing and circulation in the waterbody. Recently, computer simulations from our partners at the Salish Sea Modeling […]

Plunging into a jungle of weather statistics to find the footprints of climate change

Share

“Augusts in Seattle are getting hotter, leading to a change of 3.5°F since 1970.” This was the sentence that caught my eye while reading an email from Peter Gerard, director of communications for Climate Central, an organization that prides itself on helping news reporters tell an accurate story of climate change. I wondered immediately: Is there something special about the month of August? It turns out that there is, at least for Seattle and most areas around Puget Sound, but I needed to see the evidence for myself. Thus began […]