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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The Salt
3:55 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Revealed: The Ocean's Tiniest Life At The Bottom Of The Food Chain

Plankton collected in the Pacific Ocean with a 0.1mm mesh net. Seen here is a mix of multicellular organisms β€” small zooplanktonic animals, larvae and single protists (diatoms, dinoflagellates, radiolarians) β€” the nearly invisible universe at the bottom of the marine food chain.
Christian Sardet/CNRS/Tara Expeditions

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 5:54 pm

What's at the bottom of the bottom of the food chain? Well, think small ... smaller than you can see.

Tiny life forms in the ocean, too small for the naked eye to see.

There are (and scientists have done the math) trillions of microorganisms in the ocean: plankton, bacteria, krill (they're maybe bigger than "micro," but not by much), viruses, protists and archaea (they're like bacteria, but they aren't bacteria).

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Science
5:37 pm
Thu March 26, 2015

Big Shelves Of Antarctic Ice Melting Faster Than Scientists Thought

A 2008 view of the leading edge of the Larsen B ice shelf, extending into the northwest part of the Weddell Sea. Huge, floating ice shelves that line the Antarctic coast help hold back sheets of ice that cover land.
Mariano Caravaca Reuters/Landov

Originally published on Thu March 26, 2015 8:01 pm

The Antarctic is far away, freezing and buried under a patchwork of ice sheets and glaciers. But a warming climate is altering that mosaic in unpredictable ways β€” research published Thursday shows that the pace of change in parts of the Antarctic is accelerating.

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Science
3:35 am
Thu March 19, 2015

Scientists Catch Up On The Sex Life Of Coral To Help Reefs Survive

Staghorn coral planted by scientists in the Florida Keys. Researchers hope to give the same sort of boost to the world's shrinking population of pillar coral, now that they can raise the creatures in a laboratory.
Joe Berg/Way Down Video/Mote

Originally published on Thu March 19, 2015 7:54 am

For the first time, biologists have caught a rare type of coral in the act of reproducing, and they were able to collect its sperm and eggs and breed the coral in the laboratory.

The success is part of an effort to stem the decline in many types of coral around the world.

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World
5:34 am
Tue March 17, 2015

Four Tropical Cyclones At Once: How Unusual Is That?

Originally published on Tue March 17, 2015 7:25 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

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Science
3:02 pm
Wed March 11, 2015

Think Man-Sized Swimming Centipede β€” And Be Glad It's A Fossil

Reconstruction of the giant filter feeder, scooping up a plankton cloud. Aegirocassis benmoulae was one of the biggest arthropods that ever lived. Family members include today's insects, spiders and lobsters.
Marianne Collins/ArtofFact

Originally published on Tue March 31, 2015 8:31 pm

If living long and prospering is a measure of success, then the arthropods are life's winners. These are the most common form of life: insects, spiders, crustaceans and centipedes, to name but a few.

And now scientists have their hands on the remains of one of the first ever. It lived 480 million years ago, and it was big and strange.

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Science
3:45 am
Thu March 5, 2015

Jaw Fossil In Ethiopia Likely Oldest Ever Found In Human Line

With the help of researcher Sabudo Boraru (right), anthropologist Chris Campisano, of Arizona State University, takes samples from the fossil-filled Ledi-Geraru project area in Ethiopia. The jawbone was found nearby.
Courtesy of J RamΓ³n Arrowsmith

Originally published on Thu March 5, 2015 12:55 pm

Scientists working in Ethiopia say they've found the earliest known fossil on the ancestral line that led to humans. It's part of a lower jaw with several teeth, and it's about 2.8 million years old. Anthropologists say the fossil fills an important gap in the record of human evolution.

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Science
12:11 pm
Fri February 27, 2015

U.S. Biologists Keen To Explore, Help Protect Cuba's Wild Places

Shoal of tropical fish over a coral reef in the Caribbean Sea. From pristine forests to vivid reefs, Cuba "has it all," say ecologists eager to study the island habitats.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon March 2, 2015 8:15 pm

As diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba thaw, the island could see a new wave of tourism β€” with visitors treated to music and scenery that has been closed to most U.S. residents for more than half a century.

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The Salt
5:48 pm
Mon February 23, 2015

Acidifying Waters Are Endangering Your Oysters And Mussels

Crew members pull an oyster dredge in Tangier Sound of the Chesapeake Bay near Deal Island, Md., in 2013. A study found that the Chesapeake Bay shellfishery is a "hot zone" for ocean acidification.
Patrick Semansky AP

Bad news for bivalves comes this week from scientists studying ocean acidification.

Ocean water in parts of the world is changing. Its chemistry is very slowly becoming more acidic, like lemon juice, and less alkaline, a la baking soda.

The change so far is small β€” you wouldn't notice if you swam in the ocean or even drank it (not recommended, in any case). But numerous scientific studies show that it could get worse. One reason is that as humans produce more carbon dioxide, a lot is absorbed into the oceans. That makes the water more acidic.

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Science
4:39 pm
Thu February 12, 2015

8 Million Tons Of Plastic Clutter Our Seas

A fisherman collects water on a beach littered with trash at an ecological reserve south of Manila in 2013.
Francis R. Malasig EPA/Landov

Originally published on Fri February 20, 2015 3:13 pm

Plastic is one of those inventions that transformed the world. It's light, durable and you can make lots of things with it.

But it's also transforming Earth's oceans β€” and not in a good way. A lot of plastic ends up there. Scientists are just now getting a handle on how much plastic has gone to sea.

Up until now, estimates have been very rough. It's hard to measure waste in the oceans; after all, salt water covers 70 percent of the planet.

But another way to figure out what's out there is to measure how much debris is coming off the land.

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The Salt
5:04 am
Thu February 5, 2015

Gotcha: Satellites Help Strip Seafood Pirates Of Their Booty

Fish on ice in Palau Misa Island, Indonesia. Thanks to satellite data, John Amos of SkyTruth can track fishing activity near the Pacific island nation from his office in West Virginia.
Randy Olson National Geographic/Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 5, 2015 10:17 am

Most of the seafood Americans eat comes from abroad. And a lot of that is caught illegally β€” by vessels that ignore catch limits, or that fish in areas off-limits to fishing.

No one knows how much of it is illegal, because the oceans are too big to patrol. Or at least, they were. Now environmental groups have harnessed satellite technology to watch pirate fishing vessels from space β€” and they've already caught some of them.

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The Two-Way
3:34 am
Thu December 25, 2014

Unexpected Life Found In The Ocean's Deepest Trench

Schmidt Ocean Institute/HADES YouTube

Originally published on Fri December 26, 2014 5:39 pm

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Science
4:02 am
Fri December 19, 2014

7 Miles Beneath The Sea's Surface: Who Goes There?

The research vessel Falkor in August 2013.
Courtesy of Mark Schrope

Originally published on Fri December 19, 2014 10:11 am

A ship full of marine scientists is floating over the deepest part of the world: the Pacific Ocean's Mariana Trench. They're sending down probes to study life in one of the most hostile environments on the planet.

This week the researchers are targeting the two deepest spots in the trench β€” the Sirena Deep and the Challenger Deep β€” which each extend down about 7 miles beneath the ocean's surface.

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Science
3:36 am
Thu December 18, 2014

Arctic Is Warming Twice As Fast As World Average

A lone polar bear poses on a block of arctic sea ice in Russia's Franz Josef Land.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Wed February 11, 2015 7:37 am

The latest word from scientists studying the Arctic is that the polar region is warming twice as fast as the average rise on the rest of the planet. And researchers say the trend isn't letting up. That's the latest from the 2014 Arctic Report Card β€” a compilation of recent research from more than 60 scientists in 13 countries. The report was released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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The Salt
5:06 pm
Thu December 11, 2014

Why The White House Wants To Go After Seafood Pirates

A crab pot full of snow crabs, fished out of the Bering Sea.
Josh Thomas Courtesy of WWF

Originally published on Sun December 14, 2014 10:02 pm

Americans eat more seafood than just about anyone else. Most of it is imported from abroad. And a lot of it β€” perhaps 25 percent of wild-caught seafood imports, according to fisheries experts β€” is illegally caught.

The White House is now drafting recommendations on what to do about that. Fisheries experts say they hope the administration will devote more resources to fight seafood piracy.

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Environment
5:11 am
Tue December 9, 2014

Scientists Track Down Serious Methane Leaks In Natural Gas Wells

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 12:27 pm

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

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