Kevin Krajick

Kevin Krajick, senior editor for science news at The Earth Institute, has worked as a journalist for about 40 years. Reporting from dozens of countries, he has covered topics ranging from crime and justice to international affairs. For much of his career, he has focused on science and nature; his articles in that vein have appeared in National Geographic, The New Yorker, Newsweek, Science and many other publications. Among other honors, he was a 1981 finalist for the National Magazine Award for Public Service for his reporting on organized crime in the waste-disposal industry, and is two-time winner of the American Geophysical Union's Walter Sullivan Award for Excellence in Science Journalism. His 2001 book "Barren Lands," a true account of mineral prospectors in the far north, is actually still in print. He lives in New York City with his wife and two daughters.

Recent Posts

Change in footprint 1993-2009. Hotter colors indicate more change. Greens indicate decrease. (Venter et al., 2016)

The (Somewhat Less Fast) Growing Human Footprint

The human footprint continues to expand, with three quarters of earth’s land surface now experiencing measurable pressures from buildings, roads, crops, pastures and other human structures and activities, according to a new report. But the report also finds an encouraging trend: In recent years, growth in the footprint has lagged far behind population and economic growth.

by |August 23, 2016
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Photo Essay: Seeking Humanity’s Roots

East Africa’s rift valley is considered by many to be the cradle of humanity. In the Turkana region of northwest Kenya, researchers Christopher Lepre and Tanzhuo Liu of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory are cooperating with colleagues to study questions of human evolution, from the creation of the earliest stone tools to climate swings that have affected developing civilizations.

by |June 8, 2016
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Seeking Humanity’s Roots

Who were our earliest ancestors? How and when did they evolve into modern humans? And how do we define “human,” anyway? Scientists are exploring Kenya’s Lake Turkana basin to help answer these questions.

by |June 8, 2016
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Walking in the Shadow of a Great Volcano

On a ledge just inside the lip of Chile’s Quizapu volcanic crater, Philipp Ruprecht was furiously digging a trench. Here at an elevation of 10,000 feet, a 1,000-foot plunge loomed just yards away, and wind was whipping dust off his shovel. But the volcanologist was excited. Ruprecht had just found this spot, topped with undisturbed wedding-cake layers of fine, black material that the crater had vomited from the deep earth some 84 years ago. Samples from the currently inactive site might shed light on its exceedingly violent behavior.

by |May 17, 2016
The researchers take numerous lava samples for later analysis. University of Chile graduate student Rayen Gho attacks a boulder.

Photo Essay: In the Shadow of a Great Volcano

High in the southern Andes, Chile’s Quizapu crater is one of South America’s most fearsome geologic features. In 1846, it was the source of one the continent’s largest historically recorded lava flows. In 1932, it produced one of the largest recorded volcanic blasts. The volcano is currently inactive, but could revive at any time. What is next?

by |May 17, 2016
Natural coastal features like wetlands and sand dunes may be able to adjust somewhat to sea-level rise. (Kevin Krajick)

Where Will Sea-Level Rise Hurt the Most?

A study out yesterday says that the lives of up to 13 million people in the United States may be disrupted by sea-level rise in the next century. But another study says that while much hard infrastructure like houses, piers, seawalls and roads may have to be kissed goodbye, some 70 percent of natural landforms along the Northeast Coast may be able to adjust themselves, and not suffer inundation.

by |March 15, 2016
In a soaking rain, Pederson eyeballs a plot through an angle gauge, a forester’s tool for estimating forest density and species composition.

Photo Essay: High in the Hills, Climate May Challenge Forests

Forests in the south-central United States are some of the country’s most productive and diverse. They also sit in a warming “hole”—an area where the progressive rise in temperature affecting most of the continent hasn’t yet taken hold. A team from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is studying how these forests might shift—or even disappear—when climate change does catch up with them, as expected.

by |March 15, 2016
Williams extracts a core from a massive red oak. Specimens up to 400 years old can be found in isolated spots, but it is the last 80-some years the scientists are mainly after. Those are the years covered by modern instrumental record, and the rings can be closely correlated with those to paint a picture of how trees have fared under known conditions year to year. This will allow the team to project how they are likely to react under future scenarios.

How Will Shifting Climate Change U.S. Forests?

One foggy spring morning just after a hard rain, Park Williams was tromping through the woods deep in Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. Toiling down a steep slope, he supposedly was keeping a simultaneous eye out for rattlesnakes, copperheads, poison ivy and big old trees. Williams seemed mostly focused on the trees, though; attention to the other stuff was just slowing him down. Williams studies how forests react to changes in climate, and the Ozarks’ deeply dissected hills and hollers—what some might refer to as typical hillbilly country—are a kind of ground zero for this.

by |March 15, 2016
A F-35C stealth fighter, similar to one linked to sonic booms off New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Its top speed is said to be 1,200 miles per hour. (Lockheed Martin)

The Earth Shook, but It Wasn’t an Earthquake

Last Thursday, thousands of people on the Eastern Seaboard felt the earth tremble. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory quickly concluded it was not an earthquake, but a military exercise.

by |February 4, 2016
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In the Southern Ocean, a Carbon-Dioxide Mystery Comes Clear

Twenty thousand years ago, low concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere allowed the earth to fall into the grip of an ice age. But despite decades of research, the reasons why levels of the greenhouse gas were so low then have been difficult to piece together. New research, published today in the leading journal Nature, shows that a big part of the answer lies at the bottom of the world.

by |February 3, 2016