Where Does Climate Change Data Come From?

A Web of Satellites Provides Massive Amounts of Information—And Proof That Global Collaboration Is Possible

It’s starting to feel as though scientists and governments announce new policies and predictions for our warming planet every week. But where do the data undergirding the alarming headlines and dire futurecasts come from? A great deal of what we understand about climate change comes from above. Satellites are one of our best tools for detailing how our actions are impacting the planet.

For decades, scientists have placed specialized sensors aboard orbiting spacecraft to better understand the world we live in. Approximately 4,000 active satellites currently orbit Earth. Most are military-related. …

The Puerto Rican Trees That Can Stand Up to Hurricanes

In El Yunque, the Tropical Rainforest Has Evolved to Shed Its Limbs to the Wind—But Stay Upright

El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico is one of the jewels of the United States system of national forests—and its only tropical rainforest. When talking about El Yunque, forest …

The Weather Scientists Who Can Forecast a National Security Threat

The Federal Air Resources Lab Quietly Helps Prevent Plane Crashes and Chemical Attacks

You’ve probably never heard of the Air Resources Laboratory. I hadn’t until two years ago, when I was hired to preserve a trove of oral histories recorded in the early …

America’s Coasts Can Already Taste the Danger of Rising Sea Levels

High Tides and Record Flooding Are Just the Rehearsal for a Troubling Future

In June 2009, the coming of summer brought beautiful sunny days up and down the eastern seaboard of the U.S. But then something weird, almost creepy, happened in the mid-Atlantic …

Can Rain Hold Us Hostage?

I Barely Made It Through England's Wettest Year. Now El Niño Looms Over My California Dream.

We’ve bought sand bags at Home Depot, installed new gutters, and patched up the roof of our house in Los Angeles. We’ve asked a plumber to check our industrial-grade sump …

The Magic of Squeezing Water Out of the Sky

A Hundred Years Ago, Charles Hatfield Cashed in on America’s Weakness for Quick Fixes—Even if They Seem Too Good to Be True

In the 1956 film The Rainmaker, a slick-talking stranger played by Burt Lancaster shows up in a drought-stricken town. Clad in a black cowboy hat and red neckerchief, he woos …