Author Archives: Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

Mapping the Patchwork of U.S. Warming Trends

The Southwest and Northeast have warmed the most. California is, well, average

They call it “global warming” but where you fall on the warming scale depends a lot on where you live. Not everywhere has warmed the same amount (or at all), and it certainly hasn’t happened at the same rate.

A new analysis from Climate Central, a climate education organization (and content partner with Climate Watch), breaks down the warming trends in the continental U.S., state by state.

Some states show an increase in average temperatures (Minnesota, Maine, Arizona and New Mexico, for instance), and some show nearly none (Florida, Alabama, Georgia). California ends up pretty much in the middle of the pack. Continue reading

A Little Lake Reveals Clues About Past Megadroughts

Scientists stumbled on Fallen Leaf Lake and the ancient trees under its surface

Miguel Vieira/Flickr

Scientists found important climate clues hidden away under Fallen Leaf Lake, just south of Lake Tahoe.

Graham Kent wasn’t researching megadroughts when he and a team of scientists began studying Fallen Leaf Lake, just south of Lake Tahoe. They were mapping faults. The little lake is a good place to study West Tahoe Fault, which cuts right through it.

“Little did we know it was a natural lab for droughts, as well,” Kent, director of the Nevada Seismological Lab at University of Nevada, Reno, told me over the phone. “So what started out as a seismic hazard endeavor became both a seismic hazard and climate study.”

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Studying the Mysteries of Migration

There are still many questions about bird migration, including how it’s affected by climate

Millions of birds make their way through the San Francisco Bay Area on the way north to their breeding grounds every spring. Many shorebirds and waterfowl have already left, and now waves of songbirds are passing through. As well-watched as birds are, there are still a lot of things scientists don’t know about migration, including precisely where different species go each summer and winter, and what exactly triggers them to get going. Since so many birds pass through here, the Bay Area is a good place to try and sort out some of the questions, and to try to tackle another: how does climate change affect birds?

The San Francisco Bay Bird Observatory, a non-profit science and conservation organization, has been monitoring birds here for 30 years. The information collected through its bird banding program, has helped reveal some of the likely effects of climate change on birds. For example, a paper released last year suggests that climate change is making some species larger.
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Poll Suggests Obama Should Come Out in Support of Climate Action

Most Americans want government to do something about climate change

Craig Miller/KQED

The majority of Americans want the government to take action on climate change, but the majority is shrinking.

Two polls in as many weeks find that the majority of Americans support government policies to shift to cleaner energy. According to the first, conducted by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication, nearly three-out-of-four Americans (72%) think climate change should be a priority for Congress, and 70% want corporations and industry to do more to address climate change.

The second, conducted by Stanford, finds that though they’re still a majority, the proportion of Americans who support climate change policies, versus those who don’t, has dropped by ten percentage points since 2010.

Despite the diminishing support, social psychologist Jon Krosnick, who directed the Stanford poll, says politicians stand to benefit by addressing climate change head-on.
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What is the Delta, and Why Should You Care?

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta: ground zero for fights over water, fish and farms

The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is a key to the water supply for 25 million Caliornians.

California’s Delta, where the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers meet, is the heart of the state’s complex water infrastructure. Where water from the north gets funneled to the south, wetlands have been turned into farmland, and native fish are in decline. Millions of Californians use water from the Delta, but in a poll conducted earlier this year, 78% of respondents didn’t know anything about it.

KQED’s Lauren Sommer is producing a series about the Delta, beginning today with a story introducing the architecture of the Delta, the battles being fought there and possible solutions–all made more complicated by climate change.

And to help get you started, here’s a video.

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Quick Link: Most Americans Think Climate Change Should Be a Political Priority


Majorities of Americans say that global warming and clean energy should be among the nation’s priorities, according to a new survey. Will those feelings translate into any action in the government? Anthony Leiserowitz of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication discusses the survey’s findings.

Read more at: www.sciencefriday.com

Controversial SF Bay Development Plan Dead in the Water — For Now

Saltworks, in Redwood City, would have built thousands of homes in salt ponds on the Bay

Lauren Sommer/KQED

Salt ponds in Redwood City where the new Saltworks development is proposed.

The low-lying land along the Bay in Redwood City has been the center of a climate controversy: should the salt ponds that have been producing salt for Cargill for decades be turned into housing, or back into wetlands? Supporters of the development point out that Silicon Valley needs more housing. Supporters of the wetlands respond, birds need a place to land, too — plus, the wetlands will provide a much-needed buffer as the sea level rises.

Now, the fight is on hold: DMB Associates, the developer that is working with Cargill on a plan to turn nearly 1,500 acres of salt ponds into Saltworks, has officially withdrawn its application from the City Council of Redwood City. That’s after an ad hoc subcommittee of the council recommended that the application be denied at this coming Monday’s meeting.
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NOAA’s Margaret Davidson: Watching the Coasts, Preparing for Change

Tonight: The latest in our series of TV interviews with climate change thought leaders

As head of NOAA’s Coastal Services Center, Margaret Davidson has her eye firmly on the future of the country’s coasts, and the threats imposed from rising seas and more extreme weather. Davidson is based in South Carolina, but is a close watcher of California, where coast and climate may be on a collision course.

Climate Watch Senior Editor Craig Miller spoke with Davidson about sea level rise and the California coast. Their conversation will air this evening on This Week in Northern California, on KQED Public Television 9.

Here’s a clip that’s not included the TV broadcast.

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