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Climate

130-Year-Old Menus Show How Climate Change Affects What We Eat

By studying the so-called mean temperature of restaurant seafood, scientists have shown how the species that fill our plates have changed with time.

The Race to Build Wind Farms That Float on the Open Sea

There’s huge potential to generate renewable energy far out in the ocean. But designing turbines that can survive rough waters isn’t exactly a breeze.

The Supreme Court Is Jeopardizing Federal Climate Action

The court’s decision in West Virginia v. EPA doesn’t go as far as some climate activists feared it might. But it’s a road map for future challenges.

Regulations and Solutions

The World Can’t Wean Itself Off Chinese Lithium

China dominates the global supply chain for lithium-ion batteries. Now rival countries are scrambling for more control over “white oil.”

The Rise and Precarious Reign of China’s Battery King

Zeng Yuqun is China’s most prolific battery billionaire. His ascent has major implications for a world increasingly reliant on electric vehicles.

A Warming Climate Takes a Toll on the Vanishing Rio Grande

Rising temperatures and an unprecedented drought pose a grave and growing peril to the river and its ecosystems.

What Polar Bear Genomes May Reveal About Life in a Low-Ice Arctic

Two new studies use whole genome sequencing to explore how the animals have fared in warmer conditions, raising questions about climate and adaptation.

Oceans and Waterways

These Satellites See Through the Clouds to Track Flooding

Remote sensing systems can struggle to spot high waters, especially in stormy weather or at night. Synthetic aperture radar offers a shot in the dark.

It’s Hard to Do Climate Research When Your Glacier Is Melting

Glaciers offer unparalleled insight into the world’s climate. But as they melt, the data they offer is less useful—and more dangerous to collect.

‘Plastitar’ Is the Unholy Spawn of Oil Spills and Microplastics

On the beautiful beaches of the Canary Islands, scientists discovered a noxious new pollutant: tar mixed with tiny bits of plastic.

‘Flash Droughts’ Are the Midwest’s Next Big Climate Threat

New research shows that dry weather is coming on more quickly than before, with little advance warning. It could devastate farmers.

Extreme Heat

Some Scientists Coined a New Name for Summer: ‘Danger Season’

Hurricanes, heat, fires, smoke, drought. Is it time to stop making the hottest part of the year seem cool?

What the World’s Largest Organism Reveals About Fires and Forests

In Oregon, the tree-killing Humongous Fungus never would have gotten so large without the accidental help of modern fire suppression tactics.

How Prescribed Burns Can Help Restore Eastern US Forests

A movement is growing to reintroduce controlled burns to forests and grasslands, bringing back the role of fire in creating biodiverse landscapes.

As Climate Fears Mount, Some Are Relocating Within the US

A small but growing number of Americans are moving to New England or the Appalachian Mountains, which are seen as safe havens from climate change.
The Downlink

Spotting Objects From Space Is Easy. This Challenge Is Harder

A battle royale called the Smart program has charged teams with a daunting first task: Identify construction sites on Earth using only data from orbiters.
Geoengineering

The Nightmare Politics and Sticky Science of Hacking the Climate

Spraying aerosols and sucking carbon out of the air would bring down temperatures, yes. But the unintended consequences of geoengineering could be enormous.
Hot Take

This Year’s Extreme Weather Is Just Getting Started

Climate change and natural variability are making 2022 a year of big weather events—so get ready for more heat waves, droughts, and hurricanes.
How Exhausting

The Black Carbon Cost of Rocket Launches

Researchers say that the rising number of space launches around the world will warm parts of the atmosphere and thin the ozone layer.
Gas Giant

The US Can Halve Its Emissions by 2030—if It Wants To

The economics are clear: Renewables are cheap enough for the country to rapidly decarbonize. Less evident is the political will to pull it off.
Green Light

Australia Has Finally Woken Up to Climate Change

The newly elected government has promised stricter emissions limits and more renewables in the wake of fires, droughts, and floods.
Go, Fish!

The Last-Ditch Effort to Save Wild Salmon

As climate change deals a blow to coastal habitats, coho salmon are disappearing from California’s Russian River. Can conservation hatcheries save them?
Climate Change

India Isn’t Ready for a Deadly Combination of Heat and Humidity

The country’s recent heat wave has seen “wet bulb” temperatures rise to potentially fatal levels—but plans to handle the crisis are still in their infancy.
A Rain Forest Elegy

A Pandemic Tragedy on Brazil’s Lago Verde

A dispatch from the Amazon: A beloved leader was the first Indigenous person in Brazil to die of Covid—a loss entwined with her people’s fight for sovereignty.
Pew Pew Pew

How Ants Inspired a New Way to Measure Snow With Space Lasers

Photons wander through snow like ants through a nest. That inspired a clever new NASA technique for measuring the fluffy stuff from orbit. 
Ideas

‘Thinkwashing’ Keeps People From Taking Action in Times of Crisis

When it comes to issues like climate change, too many let the perfect become the enemy of the good, while the world burns.
Water World

The Wetlands Are Drowning

A long-term study of a marsh was meant to ask whether rising levels of CO2 could help wetlands thrive despite rising seas. The plants aren’t keeping up.
For Peat's Sake

Carbon-Rich Peat Is Disappearing. But Is It Also Growing?

Scientists have discovered “proto-peat” forming in the Arctic as the Earth naturally sequesters carbon, but it could take centuries to mature.
RoboCrop

Farming Drives Toward ‘Precision Agriculture’ Technologies

Although real-world data is scant, proponents say robotics and AI will soon revolutionize agriculture.
Grime Time

A Powerful ISS Instrument Will Hunt for Minerals in Dusty Lands

NASA’s EMIT mission will better analyze the grime from dust-spewing regions, a critically understudied factor in climate change.
Sunburn

The Desert’s Fragile Skin Can’t Take Much More Heat

Climate change and human activity are destroying the layers of fungi, lichen, and bacteria that protect deserts from erosion.
Road Block

A New Gas-Guzzling Postal Fleet Could Be Halted by Lawsuits

Suits by states and environmentalists are contesting a USPS contract to buy 165,000 trucks, the majority of which get only 8.6 miles per gallon.
Hot Topic

Burning Crops to Capture Carbon? Good Luck Finding Water

The technique uses plants as fuel and sequesters the emitted CO2, removing it from the atmosphere. But scaling up would use gobs of water and land.
Water World

A Vast Underground Water System Helps Drive Antarctica’s Glaciers

Scientists have finally found Antarctica’s missing groundwater, which will help them predict ice flows on the continent.
Don't Have A Cow

You Don't Have to Quit Meat to Save the Planet—Just Eat Less

If everyone ate just 20 percent less beef, deforestation rates by 2050 could be half as bad.