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Jan Newton

Senior Principal Oceanographer

Affiliate Assistant Professor, Oceanography






Dr. Jan Newton is a Principal Oceanographer with the Applied Physics Laboratory of the University of Washington and affiliate faculty with the UW School of Oceanography and the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs, both in the UW College of the Environment. She is the Executive Director of the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS), the US IOOS Regional Association for the Pacific Northwest. Jan is a biological oceanographer who has studied the physical, chemical, and biological dynamics of Puget Sound and coastal Washington, including understanding effects from climate and humans on water properties. Currently she has been working with colleagues at UW and NOAA to assess the status of ocean acidification in our local waters.


NEMO Deployment and Shelf Science Cruise

The primary purpose of the cruise is to deploy the NEMO (Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory) moorings off the Washington coast in water about 100 m deep. While at sea, the team will also conduct science experiments to detect and track non-linear internal waves (NLIWs) traveling across the continental shelf break. Surveys with an echo sounder and the towed body SWIMS will be run from the shelf break toward the mooring location as well as in the Juan de Fuca Canyon.

16 Apr 2013

Washington Real-time Coastal Moorings (NEMO)

The Northwest Enhanced Moored Observatory (NEMO), which consists of a heavily-instrumented real-time surface mooring (Cha Ba), a real-time subsurface profiling mooring (NEMO-Subsurface) and a Seaglider to collect spatial information, aims to improve our understanding of complex physical, chemical and biological processes on the largely unsampled Washington shelf.

27 Sep 2011

NVS: NANOOS Visualization System

The NANOOS Visualization System (NVS) is your tool for easy access to data. NVS gathers data across a wide range of assets such as buoys, shore stations, and coastal land-based stations. Never before available downloads and visualizations are provided in a consistent format. You can access plots and data for almost all in-situ assets for the previous 30-day period.

2 Nov 2009

More Projects


2000-present and while at APL-UW

Seasonal carbonate chemistry covariation with temperature, oxygen, and salinity in a fjord estuary: Implications for the design of ocean acidification experiments

Reum, J.C.P., S.R. Alin, R.A. Feely, J. Newton, M. Warner, and P. McElhany, "Seasonal carbonate chemistry covariation with temperature, oxygen, and salinity in a fjord estuary: Implications for the design of ocean acidification experiments," Plos One, 9, doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089619, 2014.

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19 Feb 2014

Carbonate chemistry variability is often poorly characterized in coastal regions and patterns of covariation with other biologically important variables such as temperature, oxygen concentration, and salinity are rarely evaluated. This absence of information hampers the design and interpretation of ocean acidification experiments that aim to characterize biological responses to future pCO2 levels relative to contemporary conditions. Here, we analyzed a large carbonate chemistry data set from Puget Sound, a fjord estuary on the U.S. west coast, and included measurements from three seasons (winter, summer, and fall).

pCO2 exceeded the 2008–2011 mean atmospheric level (392 μatm) at all depths and seasons sampled except for the near-surface waters (< 10 m) in the summer. Further, undersaturated conditions with respect to the biogenic carbonate mineral aragonite were widespread (Ωar<1). We show that pCO2 values were relatively uniform throughout the water column and across regions in winter, enriched in subsurface waters in summer, and in the fall some values exceeded 2500 μatm in near-surface waters. Carbonate chemistry covaried to differing levels with temperature and oxygen depending primarily on season and secondarily on region. Salinity, which varied little (27 to 31), was weakly correlated with carbonate chemistry.

We illustrate potential high-frequency changes in carbonate chemistry, temperature, and oxygen conditions experienced simultaneously by organisms in Puget Sound that undergo diel vertical migrations under present-day conditions. We used simple calculations to estimate future pCO2 and Ωar values experienced by diel vertical migrators based on an increase in atmospheric CO2. Given the potential for non-linear interactions between pCO2 and other abiotic variables on physiological and ecological processes, our results provide a basis for identifying control conditions in ocean acidification experiments for this region, but also highlight the wide range of carbonate chemistry conditions organisms may currently experience in this and similar coastal ecosystems.

NANOOS partnerships for assessing ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest

Newton, J., D. Martin, E. Mayorga, A. Devol, R. Feely, S. Alin, B. Dewey, B. Eudeline, A. Barton, and A. Suhbier, "NANOOS partnerships for assessing ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest," Proc. MTS/IEEE Oceans 2012, 14-19 October, Hampton Road, VA, doi:10.1109/OCEANS.2012.6405086, 2012.

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14 Oct 2012

Ocean acidification has serious implications for the economy and ecology of the Pacific Northwest United States. A combination of factors renders the Pacific coast and coastal estuaries particularly vulnerable to acidified water. The Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, NANOOS, the Regional Association of the United States Integrated Ocean Observing System, IOOS, is set up to deliver coastal data to serve the needs and decisions of its region. NANOOS has worked through IOOS with the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, NOAA PMEL, academic, local, and commercial and tribal shellfish growing partners to provide existing observing assets to accommodate pCO2 and pH sensors, to deliver data streams from these and other providers, including that from sensors in shellfish hatcheries, and to network this capacity regionally and nationally. This increase in data access regarding OA is of value to scientists, managers, educators, and shellfish growers who are especially appreciative of the near real-time readouts of the data, upon which to make hatchery and remote setting decisions. This is a regional example of NANOOS and IOOS contributions to societal impacts from ocean acidification.

Internal waves on the Washington continental shelf

Alford, M.H., J.B. Mickett, S. Zhang, P. MacCready, Z. Zhao, and J. Newton, "Internal waves on the Washington continental shelf," Oceanography, 25, 66-79, doi:10.5670/oceanog.2012.43, 2012.

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1 Jun 2012

The low-frequency oceanography of the Washington continental shelf has been studied in great detail over the last several decades owing in part to its high productivity but relatively weak upwelling winds compared to other systems. Interestingly, though many internal wave-resolving measurements have been made, there have been no reports on the region's internal wave climate and the possible feedbacks between internal waves and lower-frequency processes. This paper reports observations over two summers obtained from a new observing system of two moorings and a glider on the Washington continental shelf, with a focus on internal waves and their relationships to lower-frequency currents, stratification, dissolved oxygen, and nutrient distributions. We observe a rich, variable internal wave field that appears to be modulated in part by a coastal jet and its response to the region's frequent wind reversals. The internal wave spectral level at intermediate frequencies is consistent with the model spectrum of Levine (2002) developed for continental shelves. Superimposed on this continuum are (1) a strong but highly temporally variable semidiurnal internal tide field and (2) an energetic field of high-frequency nonlinear internal waves (NLIWs). Mean semidiurnal energy flux is about 80 W m-1 to the north-northeast. The onshore direction of the flux and its lack of a strong spring/neap cycle suggest it is at least partly generated remotely. Nonlinear wave amplitudes reach 38 m in 100 m of water, making them among the strongest observed on continental shelves of similar depth. They often occur each 12.4 hours, clearly linking them to the tide. Like the internal tide energy flux, the NLIWs are also directed toward the north-northeast. However, their phasing is not constant with respect to either the baroclinic or barotropic currents, and their amplitude is uncorrelated with either internal-tide energy flux or barotropic tidal forcing, suggesting substantial modulation by the low-frequency currents and stratification.

More Publications

The Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems and opportunities for acoustical applications

Newton, J., M. Alford, J. Mickett, J. Payne, and F. Stahr, "The Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems and opportunities for acoustical applications," J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 129, 2371, doi:10.1121/1.3587676, 2011.

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1 Apr 2011

The successful use of SOSUS to track broad-scale occurrence patterns in whale calls during the second half of the 20th century fostered the development of autonomous recorders that can be deployed virtually anywhere in the world ocean. Over the past decade, data from these recorders have provided dramatic insights to marine mammal ecology. Patterns of call reception have demonstrated the near year-round occurrence of some baleen whale species in Arctic and Antarctic waters, a discovery that challenges long-held assumptions about the phenology of seasonal migrations. Integration of year-long calling records with physical oceanographic measures at mooring-based ocean observatories provides a means to include large whales in ecosystem-based models. The reception of anthropogenic sounds on nearly all recorders, whether deployed in coastal or remote areas, emphasizes the need to develop regional "soundscapes" based upon integrative sampling and analytical protocols. Examples from several long-term research programs will be provided as the basis for the strong assertion that passive acoustic observation of marine mammals is a vital component of any ocean observing system. Opportunities for future collaborations and the challenges of data management and access will be discussed.

NANOOS contributions to understanding ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest

Newton, J.A., A.H. Devol, M.H. Alford, C.L. Sabine, R.A. Feely, S.R. Alin, and B. Hales, "NANOOS contributions to understanding ocean acidification in the Pacific Northwest," In Proceedings, MTS/IEEE OCEANS 2010, Seattle, 20-23 September, doi:10.1109/OCEANS.2010.5664014 (MTS/IEEE, 2010).

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20 Sep 2010

NANOOS is coordinating a regional effort to observe the status of ocean acidification in the coastal waters and estuaries of Washington and Oregon. There is strong partnership in this effort between federal and university scientists, as well as strong interest from shellfish growers, tribes, and other stakeholders in the region. NANOOS, as a regional association of US IOOS, can fill a key role in providing regional coordination for observing assets, access to data, and education and outreach regarding this important issue.

The combined effects of ocean acidification, mixing, and respiration on pH and carbonate saturation in an urbanized estuary

Feely, R.A., S.R. Alin, J. Newton, C.L. Sabine, M. Warner, A. Devol, C. Krembs, and C. Maloy, "The combined effects of ocean acidification, mixing, and respiration on pH and carbonate saturation in an urbanized estuary," Estuar. Coast. Shelf Sci., 88, 442-449, doi:10.1016/j.ecss.2010.05.004, 2010.

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15 May 2010

Puget Sound is a large estuary complex in the U.S. Pacific Northwest that is home to a diverse and economically important ecosystem threatened by anthropogenic impacts associated with climate change, urbanization, and ocean acidification. While ocean acidification has been studied in oceanic waters, little is known regarding its status in estuaries. Anthropogenically acidified coastal waters upwelling along the western North American continental margin can enter Puget Sound through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. In order to study the combined effects of ocean acidification and other natural and anthropogenic processes on Puget Sound waters, we made the first inorganic carbon measurements in this estuary on two survey cruises in February and August of 2008. Observed pH and aragonite saturation state values in surface and subsurface waters were substantially lower in parts of Puget Sound than would be expected from anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) uptake alone. We estimate that ocean acidification can account for 24–49% of the pH decrease in the deep waters of the Hood Canal sub-basin of Puget Sound relative to estimated pre-industrial values. The remaining change in pH between when seawater enters the sound and when it reaches this deep basin results from remineralization of organic matter due to natural or anthropogenically stimulated respiration processes within Puget Sound. Over time, however, the relative impact of ocean acidification could increase significantly, accounting for 49–82% of the pH decrease in subsurface waters for a doubling of atmospheric CO2. These changes may have profound impacts on the Puget Sound ecosystem over the next several decades. These estimates suggest that the role ocean acidification will play in estuaries may be different from the open ocean.

The NANOOS Visualization System: Aggregating, displaying, and serving data

Risien, C.M., J.C. Allan, R. Blair, A.V. Jaramillo, D. Jones, P.M. Kosro, D. Martin, E. Mayorga, J.A. Newton, T. Tanner, and S.A. Uczekaj, "The NANOOS Visualization System: Aggregating, displaying, and serving data," In Proceedings, MTS/IEEE Oceans, Biloxi, MS, 26-29 October (MTS/IEEE, 2009).

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26 Oct 2009

The Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems (NANOOS) is one of eleven Regional Associations of the US Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). NANOOS serves the Pacific Northwest from the US/Canada border to Cape Mendocino on the northern California coast. Its mission is to coordinate and support the development, implementation, and operations of a regional coastal ocean observing system (RCOOS) for the Pacific Northwest region, as part of IOOS. A key objective for NANOOS is to provide data and user-defined products regarding the coast, estuaries and ocean to a diverse group of end users in a timely fashion, and at spatial and temporal scales appropriate for their needs.

To this end, NANOOS is developing a web mapping portal, the NANOOS Visualization System (NVS), that aggregates, displays and serves near real-time coastal, estuarine, oceanographic and meteorological data, derived from buoys, gliders, tide gauges, HF Radar, meteorological stations, satellites and shore based coastal stations, as well as model forecast information in such a way that it presents end users with a rich, informative and meaningful experience. NVS makes use of a variety of services, including the Google Maps service and a data translation and visualization service known as ERDDAP (Environmental Research Division's Data Access Program), compliant Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) web standards such as the Sensor Observation Service (SOS), Web Map Service (WMS), and Keyhole Markup Language (KML), as well as the Open-source Project for a Network Data Access Protocol (OPeNDAP) as served and cataloged by the NANOOS THREDDS (Thematic Realtime Environmental Distributed Data Services) Data Server (TDS). These heterogeneous data streams are transformed on-the-fly to other formats or representations, which NVS makes available to the end user via a Google Maps interface.

We will describe in detail the NVS development process and will demonstrate the ability of NVS to serve as a portal for one-stop access to near real-time regional data and forecast products, including NOAA's first seven core variables (ocean currents, temperature, salinity, water level, waves, chlorophyll and surface winds), by describing the data flows from NANOOS funded coastal and ocean observing and forecasting assets as well as Federal assets. In addition, we will describe future development plans that include greater functionality, iteratively improving NVS based on feedback received at planned training workshops and from identified stakeholders, and updating NVS to be compliant with future IOOS and OGC standards.

In The News

Could Puget Sound become too acidic for shellfish? New website tracks ocean acidification in real time

Puget Sound Business Journal, Steven Wilhelm

The new portal gives shellfish hatcheries an early-warning system, say Jan Newton. It also helps scientists doing research on climate change and ocean acidification, and gives more data to policy makers.

26 Nov 2014

Tool to help track changes in Pacific Ocean chemistry

KOMO News/Associated Press

The tool provides real-time ocean acidification data along the coast and in some protected bays. University of Washington oceanographer Jan Newton, who led the collaborative effort, said the information can help shellfish growers make crucial decisions about when and how to grow shellfish.

21 Nov 2014

UW-made tool displays West Coast ocean acidification data

UW News and Information, Hannah Hickey

Increasing carbon dioxide in the air penetrates into the ocean and makes it more acidic, while robbing seawater of minerals that give shellfish their crunch. The West Coast is one of the first marine ecosystems to feel the effects.

A new tool doesn't alter that reality, but it does allow scientists to better understand what's happening and provide data to help the shellfish industry adapt to these changes.

21 Nov 2014

More News Items

Cantwell: Shellfish growers are the canary in the coal mine

KUOW Radio, John Ryan

Senators Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) are calling for a national strategy to respond to ocean acidification and protect the nation's fishing industry. Jan Newton comments that "From a scientist's perspective, there is no doubt that ocean acidification is caused by the buildup of CO2."

12 Aug 2014

Acidification Eating Away at Tiny Northwest Sea Creatures

The Seattle Times, Craig Welch

Scientists have documented that souring seas caused by CO2 emissions are dissolving pteropods, a key marine food source. The research raises questions about what other sea life might be affected.

30 Apr 2014

Scientists say a deep canyon feeds Puget Sound

King5 News (Seattle), Gary Chittim

University of Washington researchers said they are astounded by the volume of deep sea water that is flowing through an underwater canyon at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

14 Apr 2014

Ocean acidification center another example of state leading the nation

UW News and Information, Sandra Hines

Washington's governor and state legislators in the last session created a hub at the University of Washington to coordinate research and monitoring of ocean acidification and its effects on local sea life such as oysters, clams and fish.

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8 Aug 2013

Based on what's learned, the center will marshal efforts to improve the ability to forecast when and where corrosive waters might occur and suggest adaptive strategies to mitigate the effects.

"I don't know of any other place in the nation where the state legislature has had the foresight to allocate funding to address these questions," said Terrie Klinger, UW associate professor of marine and environmental affairs, and co-director of the new center with Jan Newton, principal oceanographer at the UW Applied Physics Laboratory.

The UW, which received $1.8 million in state funding for the center's first two years, will work with investigators from other universities such as Western Washington University and with agencies, tribes, the shellfish industry and other organizations to address the needs specified by the legislature.

When the ocean absorbs excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere it becomes slightly more acidic and can deprive animals such as oysters, clams and crabs of the building materials for their shells. When such animals encounter carbon dioxide-rich waters, particularly in their earliest stages as larvae and juveniles, it can cause poor development or death. (story continues, see link)

New study finds problems in central Puget Sound

The Seattle Times, Donna Gordon Blankenship

Despite improvements in the most industrialized and populated areas of the Puget Sound, a new report issued Tuesday by the Washington Department of Ecology shows the overall health of the state's broadest waterway is declining in at least one way.

4 Jun 2013

Review of science lets people off the hook for Hood Canal fish kills

The Seattle Times, Craig Welch

The most comprehensive review ever of existing research on Hood Canal has concluded that septic systems aren't a leading cause of the massive fish kills that have hit the hooked fjord over the years.

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19 Sep 2012

"A lot of uncertainty"

Some believe that people are still a significant source of the problem, but that our technology and monitoring capability aren't yet sensitive enough to prove it.

"I would be the first to admit that there is a lot of uncertainty," said Jan Newton, a University of Washington scientist who led earlier investigations into Hood Canal oxygen problems. "The area from the great bend to Lynch Cove is the area where we think human nutrient loading has the potential to change oxygen levels. Some numbers suggest we are at that threshold. But not all of the numbers do. It's an area we should be looking at more closely."

Web tool, phone app pinpoint tsunami dangers, quick getaway routes

UW Today, Sandra Hines

A new online portal and smartphone app lets Washington and Oregon residents enter the addresses of their homes, schools, workplaces or kids' day care centers to check if they're in harm's way should a tsunami hit.

20 Mar 2012

Creatures stressed in Hood Canal; fish kill possible

The Kitsap Sun, Christopher Dunagan

Oceanographer Jan Newton of the University of Washington said low-oxygen conditions developed late this year. Sunny weather, which appeared as summer came to an end, can be blamed for a large growth of plankton, which dropped to the bottom of Hood Canal and consumed oxygen as they decayed.

26 Sep 2011

Study confirms septic tanks contribute to Hood Canal fish kills

The Kitsap Sun, Christopher Dunagan

Septic systems in Southern Hood Canal appear to play a pivotal role in the massive fish kills that plague the waterway, according to a long-awaited report by a team of scientists. Principal Oceanographer Jan Newton notes that in a year when the natural oxygen level is relatively low, the added human drawdown can push it over a threshold where the fish can die.

12 Apr 2011

Researchers pondering possible solutions to Hood Canal's low-oxygen problem

The Kitsap Sun, Christopher Dunagan

Jan Newton and several other scientists involved in a five-year, $4-million study have concluded that septic systems in southern Hood Canal can release enough nitrogen to drop the dissolved oxygen level by an extra 0.5 milligrams per liter.

2 Oct 2010

Wind offers reprieve to struggling, dying fish in Hood Canal dead zone

The Seattle Times, Craig Welch

Scientists have been warning all month that oxygen conditions in Hood Canal are the worst they've seen in years and could at any moment lead to the suffocation of tens of thousands of fish.

28 Sep 2010

Scientist worry Hood Canal may suffer extensive fish kills

The Seattle Times, Craig Welch

Scientists have been warning for weeks that poor flushing of the canal last winter combined with the expected influx of deep ocean water may set the stage for substantial fish kills in the canal this year. Oceanographers and scuba-diving biologists said Tuesday that conditions are right on the edge.

21 Sep 2010

Fish show signs of stress in southern Hood Canal

The Kitsap Sun, Christopher Dunagan

With dissolved oxygen at record-low levels in southern Hood Canal, fish are beginning to show signs of stress - such as "panting" through their gills, according to divers in the area.

15 Sep 2010

Record low oxygen levels observed in southern Hood Canal

The Kitsap Sun, Christopher Dunagan

Severe low-oxygen levels in southern Hood Canal have created conditions that could lead to a massive fish kill. The trigger would be strong winds out of the south, which would bring low-oxygen waters to the surface, potentially killing thousands of fish in a short time, said Jan Newton, a University of Washington oceanographer.

7 Sep 2010

Puget Sound is becoming threat to shellfish industry

FOX News, Darren Dedo

NOAA and the University of Washington are studying the problem through a system of ocean buoys, dozens of them deployed off the Washington and Oregon Coasts. UW professor Jan Newton says the buoys will collect valuable data for scientists.

2 Aug 2010

New 'ocean acidification' monitoring equipment deployed off LaPush

Peninsula Daily News

Scientists are optimistic that sophisticated monitors now operating off the North Olympic Peninsula coast will help them understand acidity levels that are skyrocketing both in the ocean and in Puget Sound and Hood Canal.

18 Jul 2010

Scientists: Acidity in much of the Sound can be lethal

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Fiona Cohen

This week NOAA and the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory will launch a buoy 15 miles of the coast near La Push and equip it with instruments to monitor the weather, the atmosphere, the water chemistry and plankton growth.

12 Jul 2010

Shellfish at risk: Puget Sound becoming acidified

The Seattle Times, Craig Welch

Scientists from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warned that the changing pH of the seas is hitting Puget Sound harder and faster than many other marine waters.

12 Jul 2010

State's most sophisticated buoy to sample for acidification, oxygen-starved waters

UW News and Information, Sandra Hines

The most sophisticated array of instruments ever put in Washington waters has been mounted on a buoy and Seaglider that will be deployed this week off the coast near La Push, in water that typically makes its way into Puget Sound, according to Jan Newton.

12 Jul 2010

Oxygen levels at record lows along Hood Canal


There are new worries for Hood Canal as the oxygen levels in deep water are at record low levels. Scientists say not enough new ocean water came into the canal this year, and that amounts to stale water.

30 Jun 2010

UW gets $1.9 million for ocean observation efforts

The Olympian

The University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory is getting $1.9 million from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration to support ocean observing efforts in the Pacific Northwest.

14 Aug 2009

Lack of funding slows research, cleanup of Sound

KIRO 7 News (Seattle), Chris Egert

Jan Newton, who studies fish kills in Hood Canal, believes at the end of the day that the work they've done so far is only the tip of the iceberg, and the more research they can do, the more they can know about what is really going on.

21 Nov 2008

What's the answer to Hood Canal's low-oxygen problem?

The Kitsap Sun, Christopher Dunagan

Oxygen levels in Hood Canal can be pushed into the danger zone by human activities, researchers now say with near certainty. But that doesn't mean the solutions are obvious.

14 Jul 2008

People helping to suffocate Hood Canal, scientists say

The Seattle Times, Warren Cornwall

People drawn to the beauty of Hood Canal are helping suffocate the very waters that brought them here. Septic systems leaking nitrogen from sewage into the southern end of the picturesque fjord are contributing to a chain reaction that kills fish and depletes the richness of underwater life.

1 Jul 2008

Cruise information plays part in Sound solutions

UW News and Information, Sandra Hines

The most extensive sampling for zooplankton ever in Puget Sound and the first measurements for acidification of the Sound's waters -- something of concern because it's happening in the open ocean and could affect the skeletons and shells of creatures large and small here in the Sound -- were among the tasks last week on the UW's vessel Thomas G. Thompson.

14 Feb 2008

Acoustics Air-Sea Interaction & Remote Sensing Center for Environmental & Information Systems Center for Industrial & Medical Ultrasound Electronic & Photonic Systems Ocean Engineering Ocean Physics Polar Science Center