Green Space

A stroll through California's natural world

RECENT POSTS

Interactive Earthquake Map: Get to Know Your Local Fault Lines

Mouse over this USGS earthquake map to see the names of the fault lines (in red) nearest you. Zoom in and click on the South Napa quake for more specific location data and to view a map showing the quake’s geographical intensity range. Zoom out to see the locations and sizes of other recent earthquakes around the world. View a full-screen version of the map here.

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake that rattled Napa and surrounding communities early Sunday morning was the largest to hit the Bay Area since the devastating 6.9 Loma Prieta quake in 1989. The South Napa Earthquake, as it’s being called, struck at 3:20 a.m., causing significant damage and injuries in the immediate vicinity and waking folks up as far south as Salinas and as far north as Ukiah.

As of Monday morning, USGS scientists still hadn’t confirmed the specific fault line where the quake occurred, although the likeliest culprit is the Browns Valley section of the West Napa fault, one of the many fault lines comprising the sprawling San Andreas Fault system.

For more on the science of earthquakes, check out KQED’s free e-book.

The Chilling Effect: Why San Francisco Gets So Foggy in the Summer

Includes video and interactives

Note: This post was originally published on May 20, 2014

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.”

Mark Twain may never have actually said it himself, but that doesn’t make the statement any less true.  Continue reading

Carbon Control: What America’s New Climate Change Offensive Looks Like

UPDATE: On June 23, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority, under the Clean Air Act, to regulate carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters like power plants and factories.

The Obama administration dropped the proverbial climate change bomb earlier this month when it announced a groundbreaking plan — without congressional approval — to significantly reduce the nation’s carbon emissions over the next 15 years. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains what these new rules set out to do.

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What Does Climate Change in California Look Like? [Infographic]

Includes infographic
California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

Be it torrential rains or severe droughts, huge wildfires or rising sea-levels, every corner of the United States has been — and will continue to be — impacted by the effects of human-induced climate change.

That’s the scenario presented last week by a team of scientists who described a series of sweeping environmental changes of near biblical proportions.

The government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, notes that many of these changes have resulted from an average temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. It warns that U.S. temperatures could increase by more than 10 degrees by the end of this century if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Continue reading

A Brief History of Earth Day

Includes videos
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Donning a gas mask, a demonstrator participates in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. (AP)


Quick quiz:

1. Which labor organization helped fund and organize the first Earth Day celebration?

2. Who said this:

“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions … It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will wreak the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”

Keep reading for answers. Continue reading

Rationing the Rain: How California Distributes Its Water in Dry Times

Includes cartoon infographic

Distributing enough water to everyone has never been an easy task in perennially thirsty California. But making sure that residents, farms and the environment are all sufficiently hydrated becomes a particularly difficult balancing act during prolonged periods of drought. Simply put, there’s just not enough to go around. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner — whose last piece focused on California agriculture — explains the complicated math of water distribution in the Golden State. View below as a slideshow or full graphic.  Continue reading

Parched Produce: California Agriculture in a State of Drought

Includes cartoon infographic

These are bone dry times for California. Even with the recent rains, the state is still mired in one of its worst droughts in recorded history. And that spells trouble for the vast agriculture industry here. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains. View it as a slideshow or in full-length format below. Continue reading

How Serious Is the California Drought? These Satellite Images Say It All

Includes images
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NASA satellite imagery comparing California’s snowpack in January 2013 to January 2014. GIF animation created by Rhett A. Butler_Mongabay.com.


If you live in California, snowpack is a pretty crucial part of your existence.

That’s because about a third of the state’s water supply comes from snow that accumulates in the mountains, mostly during the winter months. In fact, California receives roughly half of its entire year’s water supply between December and February alone. Continue reading

How Much Water Do Californians Use and What Does A 20 Percent Cut Look Like?

Includes interactive charts
A parched Folsom Lake,  at less than 20 percent of capacity (photo courtesy of National Weather Service).

A parched Folsom Lake, at less than 20 percent of capacity (photo courtesy of National Weather Service).


This is not a good time for California’s umbrella industry.

2013 was one of the driest years on record in the state. And January  – usually among the wettest months — has failed to provide any relief. With the precipitous drop in reservoir levels, Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a statewide drought emergency, calling this “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago,”

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