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

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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
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Upcoming Scientific Fieldwork, 2016 and Beyond

  On every continent and ocean, Earth Institute field researchers are studying the dynamics of climate, geology, natural hazards and ecology, and their practical applications to modern problems. Below, a list of expeditions in rough chronological order. Work in and around New York City and the U.S. Northeast is listed separately toward bottom. Unless otherwise stated, projects originate with… read more

by |February 2, 2016
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American Geophysical Union 2015: Key Earth Institute Events

Scientists at Columbia University’s Earth Institute will present important findings at the American Geophysical Union fall 2015 meeting, Dec. 14-18–the world’s largest gathering of earth and space scientists.

by |December 3, 2015
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Photo Essay: Land, Lava, People

On Hawaii, lava is a way of life. The whole island is made of the stuff. Eruptions from Kilauea volcano have been adding new land and wiping out old for all of human time, and far before. In recent decades, lava flows have wiped out communities and major roads. The latest eruption, which began in June 2014, now… read more

by |November 24, 2015