Christopher Joyce

Christopher Joyce is a correspondent on the science desk at NPR. His stories can be heard on all of NPR's news programs, including NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.

Joyce seeks out stories in some of the world's most inaccessible places. He has reported from remote villages in the Amazon and Central American rainforests, Tibetan outposts in the mountains of western China, and the bottom of an abandoned copper mine in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Over the course of his career, Joyce has written stories about volcanoes, hurricanes, human evolution, tagging giant blue-fin tuna, climate change, wars in Kosovo and Iraq and the artificial insemination of an African elephant.

For several years, Joyce was an editor and correspondent for NPR's Radio Expeditions, a documentary program on natural history and disappearing cultures produced in collaboration with the National Geographic Society that was heard frequently on Morning Edition.

Joyce came to NPR in 1993 as a part-time editor while finishing a book about tropical rainforests and, as he says, "I just fell in love with radio." For two years, Joyce worked on NPR's national desk and was responsible for NPR's Western coverage. But his interest in science and technology soon launched him into parallel work on NPR's science desk.

In addition, Joyce has written two non-fiction books on scientific topics for the popular market: Witnesses from the Grave: The Stories Bones Tell (with co-author Eric Stover); and Earthly Goods: Medicine-Hunting in the Rainforest.

Before coming to NPR, Joyce worked for ten years as the U.S. correspondent and editor for the British weekly magazine New Scientist.

Joyce's stories on forensic investigations into the massacres in Kosovo and Bosnia were part of NPR's war coverage that won a 1999 Overseas Press Club award. He was part of the Radio Expeditions reporting and editing team that won the 2001 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University journalism award and the 2001 Sigma Delta Chi award from the Society of Professional Journalists. Joyce won the 2001 American Association for the Advancement of Science excellence in journalism award.

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5:45pm

Tue March 5, 2013
Animals

'Extinction Looms' For Forest Elephants Due To Poaching

Originally published on Tue March 5, 2013 6:20 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Now, to some alarming findings about wildlife in Africa. A 10-year survey looked at the population of forest elephants and found that it fell 62 percent in that time. The study is the largest of its kind, spanning five countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, its neighbor the Republic of Congo and Gabon. The Wildlife Conservation Society, which helped organize the effort, is saying that extinction looms for the forest elephant because of poaching.

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5:17pm

Mon March 4, 2013
Politics

Energy Secretary Nominee Is An Academic, Politico

Originally published on Mon March 4, 2013 5:34 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.

An MIT physicist and Washington insider is the president's choice to run the Department of Energy. Ernest Moniz served as an undersecretary of energy for President Clinton. He now works at MIT, where his research institute publishes studies on energy that are considered required reading on Capitol Hill.

As NPR's Christopher Joyce reports, Moniz is a booster of solar and wind power but also some types of fossil fuel.

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5:22pm

Fri March 1, 2013
Energy

Natural Gas Dethrones King Coal As Power Companies Look To Future

Originally published on Fri March 1, 2013 8:01 pm

American Electric Power's natural gas-burning plant in Dresden, Ohio, is one of the energy company's new investments in alternatives to coal-burning plants.
Michael Williamson The Washington Post/Getty Images

The way Americans get their electricity is changing. Coal is in decline. Natural gas is bursting out of the ground in record amounts. And the use of wind and solar energy is growing fast. All this is happening as power companies are trying to choose which kind of energy to bet on for the next several decades.

Until recently, half of these plants burned coal to make electricity. Now, that's down to about one-third. Since 2010, about 150 coal plants either have been retired or it's been announced they will be retired soon.

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6:06pm

Fri February 22, 2013
Science

Boston Grapples With The Threat Of Storms And Rising Water

Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 7:02 pm

The Boston Tea Party museum sits right on the edge of the harbor. With rising sea levels and the increasing threat of strong storms, buildings like these are at particular risk of flooding.
Christopher Joyce NPR

Since the drubbing that Superstorm Sandy gave the Northeast in November, there's a new sense of urgency in U.S. coastal cities. Even though scientists can't predict the next big hurricane, they're confident that a warmer climate is likely to make Atlantic storms bigger and cause more flooding.

Cities like Boston are in the bull's-eye.

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5:03am

Sun February 10, 2013
Environment

Is The Earth Cooking Up A Super Volcano?

Originally published on Sun February 10, 2013 8:38 am

Plosky Tolbachnik volcano erupts in Russia's Far Eastern Kamchatka Peninsula on Jan. 6, 2013. It's not a so-called "super volcano," but every million years or so scientists say the Earth burps up volcanoes that can erupt for thousands of years.
Alexander Petrov AP

Every few million years or so, the Earth burps up a gargantuan volcano.

These aren't like volcanoes in our lifetimes; these "super volcanoes" can erupt continuously for thousands of years. While they might be rare, you'd best look out when one hits.

The ash and volcanic gases from these volcanoes can wipe out most living things over large parts of the planet. Michael Thorne, a seismologist at the University of Utah, has some clues about what causes these big eruptions.

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5:41pm

Tue January 29, 2013
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

Sand After Sandy: Scientists Map Sea Floor For Sediment

Originally published on Mon February 4, 2013 2:29 pm

Highly detailed sonar systems aboard the research vessel Pritchard gave researchers a clear view of the sediment on the seafloor off Long Island.
Courtesy of John Goff University Of Texas

Congress has now agreed to give some $60 billion to states damaged by Hurricane Sandy. A lot will go to Long Island, one of the hardest hit areas. Besides damages to homes and businesses, its system of protective barrier islands and beaches were partially washed away.

Scientists are trying to find out where that sand and sediment went, and whether it can be used to rebuild Long Island's defenses.

In January. On a boat in Long Island Bay.

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5:24pm

Fri January 18, 2013
Science

Powerful But Fragile: The Challenge Of Lithium Batteries

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 7:58 pm

A United Airlines 787 Dreamliner arrives at O'Hare international Airport in Chicago in November. Aviation authorities in the U.S. and abroad have grounded the planes because of problems with batteries on board.
Nam Y. Huh AP

Boeing announced late Friday that it is postponing deliveries of its new 787 Dreamliner because of problems with its big batteries. Aviation authorities in the U.S. and abroad grounded the new jetliners after those batteries failed in two planes operated by Japanese airlines, including one battery that burned while the plane was on the ground.

These lithium-ion batteries are new to jetliners. They're powerful and lightweight, and, unfortunately, they're also fragile.

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3:34am

Fri January 18, 2013
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

Experts Urge Caution As $50 Billion In Sandy Aid Passes House

Originally published on Fri January 18, 2013 9:11 am

Much of the money from the Hurricane Sandy relief bill the House of Representatives passed will fund beach and infrastructure restoration projects in areas such as Mantoloking, N.J., seen on Oct. 31.
Doug Mills AP

The House of Representatives passed a bill this week to spend $50 billion to help states struck by Hurricane Sandy. The action comes more than two months after the storm, and the measure now goes to the Senate.

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3:22am

Thu December 13, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

New York Planners Prep For A 'New Normal' Of Powerful Storms

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 9:03 am

A woman with the Army Corps of Engineers documents a destroyed home last month in a residential area of New Dorp Beach on Staten Island in New York City.
Robert Nickelsberg Getty Images

It will take tens of billions of dollars to repair the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy. But scientists who study climate change say repair is not enough. As the climate warms, ice sheets and glaciers will melt, raising the sea level. That means coastal storms will more likely cause flooding.

So New Yorkers, local politicians and scientists face a tough decision: How to spend limited funds to defend themselves from what climate experts call "the new normal."

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4:47pm

Wed December 5, 2012
Environment

In Arid West, Cheatgrass Turns Fires Into Infernos

Originally published on Wed December 5, 2012 6:36 pm

The Constantina Fire burning in Long Valley, Calif., in 2010, very likely started in cheatgrass.
Courtesy of Nolan Preece

Cheatgrass is about as Western as cowboy boots and sagebrush. It grows in yellowish clumps, about knee high to a horse, and likes arid land.

One thing cheatgrass does is burn — in fact, more easily than anyone realized. That's the conclusion from a new study that says cheatgrass is making Western wildfires worse.

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