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Western Washington wildfire: What are we facing this year and beyond?

Trying to predict the likelihood that Western Washington will be scorched with severe forest fires this summer must be an overwhelming job for our region’s meteorologists. In the midst of a pandemic, fire managers and fire crews desperately would like to know what kinds of fire conditions they will face this year, not only in …

Distinguished Research Award recipient Ed Kolodziej.

Kolodziej wins UWT’s 2020 Distinguished Research Award

Puget Sound Institute collaborator Ed Kolodziej is the recipient of this year’s University of Washington Tacoma Distinguished Research Award for his work to identify toxic contaminants in the Puget Sound watershed. The annual award “recognizes a faculty member who has achieved a record of notable scholarship or creative activity, who has generated new knowledge or …

Warm-water ‘blobs’ significantly diminish salmon, other fish populations, study says

It’s no secret that salmon and other Northwest fish populations are expected to shrink as a result of a warming Pacific Ocean. But a new study suggests that the resulting decline in commercial fishing by 2050 could be twice as great as previously estimated by climate scientists. The higher estimates of population declines were calculated …

An endangered southern resident orca leaps out of the water in Puget Sound. Photo courtesy of NOAA.

Research in the time of the coronavirus

As the state’s stay-at-home order drags on, much of the work to recover Puget Sound has shifted online. Funding schedules for the state and federal Strategic Initiatives remain on track and events like the Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference are going virtual next week with presentations by video conference. But researchers face an entirely different situation …

Salmon expeditions challenge old beliefs

Long-held assumptions about where salmon go during their years of swimming in the Pacific Ocean may need to be revised, according to Dick Beamish, a Canadian salmon researcher who helped organize two scientific expeditions into the Pacific Ocean. For example, sockeye salmon have been caught in nets farther south than conventional wisdom would suggest, Beamish …

Time to spare? Why not conduct some real online research to advance science

If you are looking for something constructive to do in this stay-at-home period of our lives, I might suggest joining a team of scientists conducting real online research. Zooniverse, a clearinghouse of about 100 active crowd-sourced science projects, has added educational materials for all age groups. Students learning at home can assist professional researchers as …

Second Pacific salmon expedition gets a chance to see the effects of cooler water

A second research cruise to study the winter travels of salmon in the Pacific Ocean got underway today, when 12 scientists from three countries left Victoria, B.C., aboard the trawler Pacific Legacy. Researchers say they have learned a great deal from the first salmon cruise a year ago, when 21 scientists from five countries ventured …

Virus related to measles could push Puget Sound orcas to extinction, study says

Researchers studying the killer whales that frequent Puget Sound are growing increasingly concerned that a dangerous virus or other disease-causing organism could spread through the population and hasten extinction of these critically endangered southern resident orcas. Without dramatic changes to their environment, extinction is already considered the likely future for the southern residents, as they …

Missing orca named ‘Mega’ lived a long, productive life, says Ken Balcomb

A 43-year-old male orca named Mega, now missing and presumed dead, was one of the first new calves that researcher Ken Balcomb spotted when he began his extensive census of Southern Resident killer whales back in 1976. Ken didn’t know it at the time, but the baby orca — one of nine born in 1977 …

How air pollution becomes water pollution with long-term effects on Puget Sound

When thinking of air pollution, I used to think only of breathing toxic chemicals into our lungs, with uncertain health effects. That’s bad enough, but air pollution — which is everywhere — is also getting into our waterways and penetrating deep into our food webs. Rivers, lakes and Puget Sound, no body of water escapes …